Finally, My Day Has Come
By Patrick F. Cannon
I greeted the news that the Boy Scouts of America had decided to admit girls to their rolls with unalloyed joy. Now at last I would have hope that one of my long cherished dreams might come true – and all without having to undergo sexual reassignment treatment or that final frontier, surgery.
Perhaps a little background might be helpful. Many years ago, my sainted grandmother Donnelly (when did grannies stop being “sainted”?) told me that she was descended from Betsy Ross, she of the nimble fingers who had sewn the first Stars & Stripes. Granny was my mother’s mother, and her maiden name was Brown. Now, I happen to know where my father’s family came from – an island off the West coast of Ireland called Inishbofin (which is supposed to mean “Island of the White Cow” but that could just be a bit of Irish humor).
I have actually been to the island and the cemetery is full of Concannons (our real name) and Murrays, my fraternal grandmother’s name. (By the way, if you like sheep and rocks, Inishbofin is just the place for you). I know very little, however, of Granny Donnelly’s Irish ancestors. One of my aunts used to correspond with one of them in Ireland, and I recall it was in the North. Now, the name Brown is fairly common among the Scots, so it may be that there is some Scotch-Irish blood lurking in the family tree. As I recall, Ms. Ross was of that heritage. I suppose I could check it out, but it’s getting close to lunch time and one must rations ones time.
I take it as a given then that I’m descended from her. Sainted grandmothers do not lie, particularly those who went to Mass every day of their long lives. On my father’s side, by the way, I was told that the mighty kings of Ireland lurked somewhere in our family tree, but then most Irishmen make similar claims. What I’m actually getting at is this: if I’m related to the legendary seamstress Betsy Ross, then I have a claim to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution! For how can they hold out against the inexorable tides of history when the Boy Scouts cannot?
As you know, virtually every former all male organization now (more or less) happily admits women. I worked for one of them for many years – the International Association of Lions Clubs – and they soon discovered that women could roar with the best of them, and bounced far fewer dues checks than did the men. Is it not now time for these seemingly exempt all female organizations to stop hiding behind their sex, and enter the brave new world of gender equality? (By the way, I haven’t bounced a check since 1965.)
After breaching the walls of that bastion of female WASP exclusivity, I may seek membership in the American Association of University Women and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (although the latter might exclude me on a technicality). I would, however, hesitate to seek affiliation with the Colonial Dames, as I’m told you are required to sing their official song – Their Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Dame – at every meeting.
Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon
4 thoughts on “Finally, My Day Has Come”
The poor Boy Scouts. It’s been one indignity after another.
But I wouldn’t start celebrating just yet. The Scouts are small potatoes compared to the DAR. A group of kids and their leaders all running around in short pants. They probably don’t even know how to start fires or tie knots anymore. And they always had to vie for attention with their female counterpart. The DAR is another matter. I know because my wife Jill qualifies as one. Their history is solid. They can verify their maternal lineage. They don’t wear short pants.
When we were in Pittsburgh recently we visited the Fort Pitt museum. Across the lawn from the museum is the one remaining structure from the Fort, a 1764 blockhouse in its original location. It was saved from demolition and preserved (the area became a busy railroad yard with factories and warehouses) by none other than the DAR, who acquired the deed to it in 1894 and took a firm stand against the government and powerful industrialists who wanted to move the structure elsewhere. They even turned down an offer by Henry Frick to buy it for $25,000, a lot of money in 1902. The blockhouse is a museum unto itself. Inside, a DAR member gives tours and recounts the history. She is a formidable individual. I would say, even if you are descended from Betsy Ross, and possess her very needle and thread, the DAR will not admit you. Certain forces transcend gender politics.
As for me, the best I can hope for is to join the Sons of Italy. But they are not as active as they once were, if at all. Besides, I don’t care for soccer and I don’t want to risk association with that racist, capitalist, genocidal monster Columbus.
Ah, the Sons of Italy! I recall that in good old McKeesport, it (and the nearby GAPA, or Greek American Protective Association) became quite lively after Midnight on Saturday when the Blue Laws went into effect. Both offered one day memberships to any other ethnic groups (except blacks) who wished to continue their revels into the wee hours.
A quick online check reveals the Sons are still quite active with 600,000 members. They elected their first female lodge president in 1965, their first female board member in 1985 and their first woman as national president in 1993. Condoleza Rice was recently honored by their foundation. I can’t speak for the McKeesport chapter but I know Lions clubs in Illinois were none too friendly toward blacks, especially my old club in Berwyn. But then, how many whites were members of the Mystic Knights of the Sea?
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Frankly, I always wondered about Kingfish.