Friday, March 12, 2010

Women's History Month: Working Girl

Today's installment of the Fearless Females theme from Lisa Alzo is "Working Girl."

My mother worked right out of high school, during the Depression, in Pensacola, Florida, as a secretary. She did not say who she worked for. She did not work during marriage to my father, but when he died in 1954, she had to go back to work. Having been out of the workforce for so long, she first had to go to secretarial school, and then to work. She was able to go to school while handling all the responsibilities of a mortgage and three children because she received a pension as a Navy widow. It was only after my father died that my mother had a house of her own. All during their marriage, they always rented their homes, never buying any.

She worked first for a lumber company in Jacksonville, Florida. Later, she decided she wanted a specialty, so she took courses to become a medical secretary. She worked at Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville (now Baptist Medical Center) from the time it was built in 1955 into the mid-1960s, when she changed to working for doctors in private practice. She enjoyed being a medical secretary, and I think part of it was that medical folks have such a pawky sense of humor!

She was the secretary in the surgery department at Baptist, and wore scrubs during work hours, as was required of everyone who worked in that area. One evening, after she had changed back into her own clothes and was walking down the corridor to the elevators, one of the surgeons saw her, and exclaimed, "Why, Martha! I almost didn't recognize you with your clothes on!" She thought that was terrifically funny.

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