Witnessing the Changing Roles of Women

My Mom was the fourth of thirteen children and the oldest daughter.  She is looked upon by some of her younger siblings as a mother figure.  Her family was poor and they didn’t have much.  She graduated from high school in 1959 and married my Dad shortly after.

She was naive when she married at 18.  Most 18 year old’s are. They were married on a Saturday afternoon and attended a revival at the church that evening. Yes it was their wedding night, but that’s what she thought they were suppose to do. She said she was just happy to have a whole side of the bed to herself, rather than sharing with four or five sisters.  She enjoyed grocery shopping after getting married.  Except for, my dad wouldn’t let her buy lettuce.  He thought lettuce on a sandwich was an extravagance.

Like me, my Mom is a little stubborn. My Dad was working two jobs when she was pregnant with me. She wanted a Christmas tree, but my Dad didn’t have the time to get one and probably didn’t want to waste the money on it.  My Mom likes to tell the story of walking down Sylvania and buying a Christmas tree and dragging it home. She passed a little boy playing in his yard, he asked her “Lady can I have your Christmas tree?”  She told him “No, its mine.”  She was determined to have a Christmas tree in her little house when her baby was born at the end of December.

That’s just the way she has always been.  When she wants something, she just goes and gets it. I think she was just very determined to live a very different life than the one she was brought up in. She has always worked.  After I was born she went back to work at a furniture store.  She worked days and my Dad worked nights. There was a lady who came in the morning and took care of me.  When my Dad woke up he would take over.  My mom would get off the bus and walk up the street to find my Dad sitting with me on the front porch.

My mom didn’t drive. On Saturdays she would take a bus to the grocery store and ride in a taxi home with the groceries, while my dad stayed home with my sister and I. I was in elementary school when she learned to drive.  She took lessons at night while my dad worked.

My mom really became her own person during the late 60’s and early 70’s. She worked at General Dynamics during this time period.  Women weren’t allowed to wear pantsuits at first.  There was a small uproar when they did begin wearing them.  A supervisor said that women should dress “appropriately” for the men. We all know how that story ended.

Also during that time women couldn’t get credit in their own names.  All credit cards were issued under the husband’s name.  My mom worked and felt, rightly so, that she should be able to spend some of her money as she saw fit. The credit card bills would come addressed to “Kennith Mitchell”. That upset my dad to receive bills in the mail for things he wasn’t aware of.  When my Dad attempted to tell my mother, much like you would tell a child, not to use the charge card anymore she informed him “That as long as I am working I am going to charge, charge, charge!!!”

At that time my parents checking account was under the name “Mr and Mrs Kennith Mitchell”. You should have been there when checks arrived with the name “Kennith or Betty Mitchell” on them. I remember my dad saying “If you don’t want to be Mrs. Kennith Mitchell maybe I should just leave.” My mom replied just as loudly “Anyone could be Mrs. Kennith Mitchell, I am Betty Mitchell.  That is my name and that is who I am.”

My mom is not one to protest things. She has her opinions, some of which would surprise people who think they know her. I think she taught my sister and I to be independent and rely upon ourselves. Like all women we struggled to find ourselves, but we did.  I think my mom is proud of the women my sister and I became.  I also know for a fact that my grandfather and my father were very proud of the woman my mother became. 


  1. I really enjoyed that, Anna! Keep 'em coming! I wish I had known your Mom. I don't think I ever met her. She sounds a lot like my Mom. LOVE the Christmas tree part! – Natalie

  2. I love this. You should write a book. Thank you for sharing. I did not know your mother did not drive until after you and Trish were born. Wow,

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