Friday, June 30, 2006

Real Women

It was 1936 and Mary, my mom, was playing high school basketball in Rochester, NY. Though only 5’4” she was quick and had a good two-hand set shot. And she loved the game. Her sisters Grace and Gloria also played sports and the three were good lookers to boot.

On the Lama side, my fathers sister’s all looked like German farm women. Francis was built like a linebacker but Dolly and Virginia were petite while Judy, Marie and Maybelle were tall, athletic, blond and beautiful. Aunt Bello was a ballerina and Broadway show star until she married and moved back to Rochester to raise her kids. To keep in shape she opened a dance studio and all my cousins, boys included, were required to take lessons. I was 10 and it was an experience I’d like to forget.

What got me thinking about these real women was the obit in today’s la times. She was called "the First Lady of Iron," "America's Barbelle" and "the Queen of Muscle Beach." Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton, a pioneer female weightlifter who helped put Santa Monica's Muscle Beach on the map died Monday at her home in Santa Monica. She was 88.

"In those days, lifting weights was considered unfeminine," Stockton told Sports Illustrated. "People used to say that if women worked out, they would become masculine-looking or wouldn't be able to get pregnant. We just laughed because we knew they were wrong."

These were women who grew up during the Great Depression, married and had children while their husbands went to war, and took jobs to aid the war effort. These were the women of the Greatest Generation.

The Santa Monica-born Abbye Stockton was a 19-year-old telephone operator in the late 1930s when she and future husband Les Stockton began frequenting the area just south of the Santa Monica Pier established for devotees of "physical culture." She had earned the nickname Pudgy as a young child, but she soon developed what many considered the most impressive female body on Muscle Beach. She and Les performed various routines, including the crowd-pleasing "high press," in which Pudgy lifted a 100-pound barbell over her head while balancing atop Les' upstretched hands.

My Mom and Aunts Grace and Gloria are still with us, as are Aunts Judy, Maybelle and Marie. Bless them and the other real women who never accepted that work and sports were unfeminine, or that raising children was unfullfilling.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as long as they stay in the house during peacetime, I'm okay with it! That's a woman's place, even if the feminazis deny it to their dying breath. Great post!

4:28 PM  
Blogger gary daily said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:04 PM  
Blogger gary daily said...

Bill. I love this post. Sorry one of your Taliban influenced "anonymous said . . ." commentators chooses to ruin the mood. I had a mother and aunts who sound a lot like yours. Strong women who practiced independence outside as well as inside the home all of their long lives. I would love to see what would have happened to some idiot who called my Aunt Liz a "feminazi."

8:06 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Thank you. I have the greatest respect for my Aunts and I see that you do too. We were both lucky.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just Beautiful Bill..It reminds me of my MOM. She worked hard on the farm and could lift as much as my dad....You are right they are REAL WOMEN!!


4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting family stories…make me think, I’d better write them down too!


10:19 PM  

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