In 1969 I was secretary to Robert B. Choate, an antihunger crusader. He and the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Health, led by George McGovern and Ted Kennedy, expanded food stamp eligibility and nutrition labeling and made sure the public was aware that America was “a nation of nutritional illiterates.”
In September we attended a meeting of publishers and other opinion leaders in New York. Being so close, I had to join the demonstration at the Miss America Pageant and support my sisters in the cause of women’s liberation. It was the year after the bra burnings of 1968. What would happen? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I arrived at the boardwalk in my office attire, a sleeveless navy blue linen minidress with a starched white collar, carrying my tapestry attache case. I asked a policeman if he’d keep an eye on it for me and sat down to enjoy the show.
Today I looked online for photos from that day. Here’s what I found. Many thanks to Jo Freeman of http://www.jofreeman.com/ for capturing the event and, amazingly, including me in one of the pictures.
One of my favorite historical documents is the restraining order handed to each demonstrator as we got off the bus. The lawyers were ready for the “irreparable harm and damage” to the pageant that would result from the “alleged contemplated illegal activities” of the demonstrators. By God, this piece of paper was going to prevent us from
burning material and clothing in public, emitting noxious odors, and exploding, lighting and distributing any device causing or calculated to cause emission of such odors and gases [and from] using loud and/or offensive language either orally or in writing.
I don’t remember what my sisters did in 1968 that emitted noxious odors, but the pageant people sure didn’t want us to do it again. This is the document that was supposed to reduce us to helplessness.