Year of the Woman
by Luke Osteen
Slip on your dancing shoes! The Laurel will be celebrating The Year of the Woman with every issue.
Welcome to 2020! And here at Laurel, welcome to the Year of the Woman!
It’s, of course, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted American women the right to vote.
But if you’ve been browsing Laurel’s pages over the years and read Jane Nardy’s chronicles of life in the early days of Southern Jackson County, or Donna Rhodes’ presentations of tales from Ran Shaffner’s “Heart of the Blue Ridge,” you know that women have always played a substantial role in life on the Plateau.
Matriarchs, pioneering doctors, emboldened businesswomen who understood the value of hard work and honest dealings – they were all setting the stage for what we enjoy today upon this little corner of Western North Carolina. And they didn’t need permission from the US Constitution to assert themselves.
In fact, the magazine that you’re browsing through at this moment is itself a product of the example set by those women.
Eighteen years ago, Janet Cummings and Marjorie Christiansen envisioned a magazine that would chronicle life here on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.
They were, of course, told by many, that they were too ambitious, didn’t quite grasp the nuances of publishing, and, if the concept really were viable, then why hadn’t someone, done it before?
Yet here we are.
That’s why, throughout this year, we’re going to spotlight the women of the Plateau who’ve really made a difference, whether right here or on the other side of the globe.
For instance, consider the source of this month’s recipe, Wilma Gordon. She’s a true Highlander, beloved by generations of local children who passed through her Highlands Preschool (now known as The Wilma Gordon Center and to which she still serves at 87). Miss Wilma, as she’ll always be known around here, began her tireless, compassionate educational career at a trio of so-remote-you-had-to-fly-into-them Eskimo villages in the 1950s and 60s.
That’s the sort of woman we’ll be focusing on.
Or we don’t even have to spotlight them. Browse through The Laurel with fresh eyes and you’ll discover how women are still making their energy and ideas felt in the twin communities.
They’re behind the events that give shape and savor to life here.
Their tireless energy keeps so many community organizations alive and focused.
Imagine life without them. Not very pretty, is it?
And in our next issue, you’ll learn how a group of local women will be making the impact of the 19th Amendment resonate today, 100 years later.