When the Women Went on
The menfolk of Dixon guffawed when the women said they were taking over the town. But the smiles faded when the pickets appeared at Flora Mae’s. Would the men surrender
WHEN THEY get around to writing the life history of that lady mayor down at Ottawa, I hope they won’t forget to tell about what happened here at Dixon. More than likely she’s forgot all about it herself. A lady that makes as many speeches as she does and gets mixed up in as many fights isn’t likely to remember a little place like Dixon. But she was here all right and us folks won’t ever forget it.
It was the Women’s Study Club got her to come. And there was a real good turnout to hear her, too. She was fresh from that big shindig they had out at the Sewage Disposal Plant and her name was news. Why, they say she shook hands with the Governor-General out there with her nose as high as though it had been the Crystal Palace!
Some of us men went along to hear her speak, mostly just to please our wives. And it wasn’t too bad at all. She told the women about how they had to take their place in world affairs instead of just sticking in their kitchens all the time. She said they ought to be getting into politics. Right on up from the local school board to the Federal House, she said, and then maybe into the Senate to shake that up a bit. Everybody clapped the roof down when she was through. Especially the women. We had a cup of tea and some fancy sandwiches. Then we went on home and forgot all about it. Leastways the men did.
But it was right after that the trouble started. Nomination night was just the week after and what did those fool women do but nominate Caroline Perkins for mayor! I remember Clerk Bidewell just about upset the inkwell, he laughed so hard filling out that nomination paper.
Not that Caroline isn’t a fine woman. She’s been a widow now for about seven years—talked her husband to death, some folks say— but she’s a real capable woman. After Steve died she bought the big Jackson house and turned it into a tourist home. Summers, she had as many as fifteen or twenty folks staying there overnight on their way to Lake Kashawingo for a holiday.
But Merv Tillbury’d been our mayor for nine years and he had a pretty strong organization. We couldn’t see Caroline Perkins upsetting him. And she didn’t. She got eighty-three votes. And at that she did better than was expected.
What got us was the way she took it. Seemed like she had expected to win. She had sandwiches made and tea and fruitcake and was all set for a big victory blowout. That’s how we do it here in Dixon. Merv Tillbury nearly killed himself laughing when he heard about it. He had sandwiches, too, but he ran short and
just for a gag Bob Clarke went over and asked Caroline for the loan of some. She slammed the door in his face pretty hard. She didn’t speak to Merv for a month or two but of course nobody can stay mad at him very long, especially a lady.
She stayed mad at Bob Clarke, though. She wrote a letter to the Chronicle saying as how he only got the job as foreman of the Board of Works because he was Merv’s brother-in-law. She said the streets of Dixon were a disgrace, summer and winter, and that Bob Clarke was incompetent.
Well, sir, when Bob read that he got out the snowplow and personally plowed out every inch of the street in front of Caroline’s house. He can run a snowplow as slick as most women wheel a baby carriage. The only thing was he accidentally filled in Caroline’s sidewalk and driveway every morning for over a month. Once he buried her garbage pail so deep you couldn’t even see it was there. Caroline certainly raised a row about that but there wasn’t much she could do about it.
Well, after the election things went on about the same for another year. I do remember my wife Maude seemed to have twice as many meetings this fall as she usually does. But I didn’t pay much attention to that. Women are always having meetings, missions and rummage sales and teas and things. And Maude seemed to take me up pretty short Continued on page 66 once or twice. She always used to be a real sweet-tempered woman but she was kind of uppity, now that 1 remember back. 1 was afraid maybe she’d found out . . . well, never mind what I thought. The thing is, none of us men noticed anything. That’s what gets me about the whole thing. To think that many women could all keep so quiet about something. It shakes a man.
Not a woman in Dixon had come ta. work that day hut those posters were tacked on every hydro pole in town.
WHEN nomination night rolled round again and the women marched in, we started to laugh. Clerk Bidewell got an extra nomination paper out just as nice as could be, though. He was hardly smiling at all. Mayor Tillbury winked at him but he kept bis face pretty straight considering.
And they nominated Caroline Perkins again for mayor. We felt kind of sorry for them. They couldn’t win but you had to admire them for trying.
Then they asked for some more nomination papers. Clerk Bidewell just about had a fit when he saw what they were doing with them. They went right down the slate and nominated women for every single office. Six for aldermen —alderwomen, I guess I should say— and six for the school board, as well as Caroline for mayor. My wife, Maude, was one nominated for alderwoman.
I felt pretty embarrassed. Merv Tillbury didn’t feel so good either, when he saw his wife was with them. Percy Evans, who lives next to Tillburys’, heard some pretty loud talk over there about 11 that night, so we figured he laid down the law to Elbe pretty hard. He seemed all right next day, though, and he just laughed when we kidded him about it.
Next thing we knew was when we saw Bob Clarke going down to the clerk’s office hell for leather with a copy of the Chronicle. He was all excited and he talked with Bidewell awhile and then he got excited and they phoned Merv Tillbury. He came right down.
Merv didn’t get excited, though. Bob showed him the full-page ad the women had in but Merv didn’t turn a hair. He said he fully realized the power of advertising and that he was fixing up a little ad himself. But it was votes that counted, he said, and the women didn’t have enough even if they all voted the one way, which they never would, he said, on account of women couldn’t stick together more than a day at a time. He said for Bob to quit worrying and for Bidewell to calm down. They did, too. Bob went on back to work looking kind of sheepish.
The ad was a whopper all right. You could read it from back about six blocks. And the women had got Bill Enderby, the editor, to run off handhills the same and they had them all over the telephone poles till you got sort of sick just looking at them.
The ad said they were fed up with the way the men were running the town and they were going to take over. Yes, that’s what they said. Just as bold and blunt as that. Not a word about promises, or “to the best of their ability” or “solicit your support” or anything like that. They just listed the women who were running and said they were taking over after the election. And at the bottom of the ad, in print about a foot high, they had this slogan: WOMEN CAN DO IT BETTER. We could see why Bob had been upset. We knew they couldn’t do it, of course, but it made us mad just the same.
I saw the ad at noon and I decided to have a few words with Maude right away. A fellow doesn’t like to see his wife make a spectacle of herself. Only when I got, home, she wasn’t there. There was no dinner on the table and the dishes weren’t done and the beds weren’t made and Maude wasn’t there. Neither was little Susie, who is only three and mostly goes where her mother goes.
Our boy Tim came in from school and the two of us got some soup heated up and found some chocolate cake. I could have sworn Maude had done a lot of baking the day before but we couldn’t find anything but a couple of pieces of stale cake. We made out but it was pretty cheerless. When we finished, Maude still wasn’t home. Then I phoned over to McClellans’. .lean McClellan is Maude’s best friend. Pete answered the phone.
“I was just picking up the phone to call you,’’ he says. “No, Maude isn’t here and vhat’s more Jean isn’t either. Looks like she hasn’t been here since breakfast The dishes are still on the table. And little Pete must be with her.”
“That’s funny,” I tell him. “Did you call anybody else?”
“Yes,” he says, “I called over to Parkers’ but Bill says Marion isn’t home either and he hasn’t seen Jean. Where tfe hell you think they are?”
“Damned if I know,” I say. “Maude sometimes comes in late from a church meeting hut they don’t ever hold meetings in the morning that I know of.”
“Well,” Pete laughs. “I guess they’ll come home when they get ready.”
“Sure,” I tell him. And we hang up. And that was one thing we certainly were right about.
]1 JAUDE wasn’t home at supperIfJLtime. In a way I wasn’t surprised. Because that afternoon I couldn’t find a married man in Dixon whose wife had been home for dinner except Clayton Kelly and his wife’s that done up with art hritis she can’t get out of bed. Clayt said she pretended to be asleep all the time he was home and didn’t say boo. And Peggy Martin, who looks after her, ran out the door when Clayt, came in and called something back to him he didn’t hear and there was no dinner ready for him any more than there was for us.
There was something new at the house, though. Spread across the dining-room table was this great big sign: WOMEN CAN DO IT BETTER.
When I saw that, I sent Tim down to the Coffee Cup for some hamburgers for our supper. The minute he was out the door I phoned over to Tillburys’. Merv answered and he sounded like a bear waked out of a winter’s sleep.
“Elbe there?” I ask, just as innocent as I can manage.
He doesn’t say anything for a minute. Then he gives that hearty laugh of his that, all the women like so much.
“Why, she just stepped out for a minute,” he tells me. “But when she gets back I’ll tell her the handsomest man in Dixon has been calling her up.” And he laughs again and hangs up.
I waited and waited and waited for Tim to get back with the hamburgers and when he came in it was nearly seven.
“Couldn’t help it, Dad. Gloria didn’t come in to work today and neither did Joan and everybody in town wanted hamburgers and Kelly was trying to make (hem all himself and he burned some because he got excited. I had to make our own and I’m not sure they’re cooked in the middle.”
They weren’t either but we ate them. And we had some milk and we put the dishes in the sink. I read the Medway Mirror and the pictures of all the women running for election were in it. Maude looked real nice. She’s a fine-
looking woman, if I do say it as shouldn’t. But Caroline Perkins had a sort of grim look around the mouth, I thought.
Maude still wasn’t home so Tim and I went to the movies. Things were in a flurry down there. Pearl Patterson, the cashier, hadn’t showed up and neither had the two usherettes, Millie Perkins and Tiny Carter. Tim and I had to stand in the line-up for a while and I got talking to Jibber Sutherland. He said there hadn’t been a woman in his grocery store all day. And nobody had ordered anything except Caroline
Perkins. She had ordered twenty loaves of bread, sliced.
“Last week she asked me to get her five big hams,” Jibber tells me. “Said her women’s group was catering to a supper. But I’ll bet that ham and that bread got together today. What do you think?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me much,” I answer him. “Might be a good idea if you didn’t deliver any more bread to those women.”
He shakes his head, mournful like.
“That Caroline Perkins can turn out baked bread that would set you drool-
ing,” he tells me gloomily. “Beside I’ve got bread stacked on the shelves that wasn’t bought today and another lot coming in tomorrow. I can’t afford to turn down the one sale I might make all day. A man has to think of his business.”
I could see that Caroline Perkins was going to get all the bread she wanted.
Finally Ed, the theatre manager, got in the box himself and we all went in to see the show.
It was nearly eleven when Maude came tiptoeing into our bedroom. I kept my eyes almost shut and didn’t V a word. 1 figured she’d start talkg when she got into bed. The trouble ’as, she didn’t get in. She took some icings out of the clothes closet and tipoed out again. After a while I got put ;>f bed and had a look around. The pare bedroom was locked up tight and here was no light but I knew Maude was in there.
1GOT UP a bit earlier in the morning than usual hut Maude and Susie were gone. Tim asked a lot of questions about them and I had a tough time answering them.
When I got downtown there were little groups of men all over the street and some of them were shouting and waving their arms around. Everybody was talking at once and it was a while before I could make any sense out of it. But finally I got it into my head that nearly half the population of the town had gone on strike. Not one woman in Dixon who had a job had come to work that day. But everywhere you looked there were these here WOMEN CAN DO IT BETTER posters.
Jim Pettigrew was really dancing up
and down. He’s the lawyer in Dixon and he had a whole raft of legal stuff that needed typing right away and Jane Ellis hadn’t showed up. She’s worked for Jim Pettigrew for nine years and some folks say she’s sweet on him-he’s a widower, you know—and she was the last person in the world Jim ever expected would let him down.
“The assizes are coming up in less than three weeks,” he rages, “and Jane knows more about those cases than I do and she won’t answer her phone and the door is locked and the blinds are down. What the devil can I do?”
“You’d better get a court order or something, Jim,” I tell him.
“Can’t,” he snaps. “Jane always makes those out too.”
The worst, though, was Bill Enderby, the Chronicle editor. His linotype operator is Lottie Carmichael. She’s set every word that has been in the Chronicle for eighteen years. And she’d only missed three days in all that time. But today she hadn’t come in.
“Biggest news story I ever had,” Bill moans. “And two full pages of election ads, besides all the usual stuff, and the only thing that’s set is the women’s ad for this week. I’m helpless, that’s what I am. Helpless! Thank God the ballots are printed !”
And he jumps in his car with all kinds of papers and things and sets off toward Medway. He figured maybe he could get one of their operators to help him out.
By and by the crowd kind of automatically veered off toward the Town Hall. Clerk Bidewell was there, looking pretty flustered, and Mayor Tillbury was there too. They had the voters’ list out and they were ticking off names and counting out loud as they went. We knew right away what the situation was and we kept quiet till they finished.
Merv’s face kept getting a little brighter all the time and when they turned the last page, he wiped his brow with his hand and gave that big laugh of his. We knew everything was all right.
“Well, boys,” he says, “if every woman that’s got a vote votes for the female candidates, which they won’t, they’ll be exactly 163 votes short. They can’t win.”
We all gave a kind of a cheer and then we started in to joke and laugh as if we’d never been worried at all.
“Still,” Pete McClellan points out, “we gotta be sure the men vote and vote right. We haven’t too big a margin.”
We all assured him he didn’t need to fret about that.
“And another thing,” lawyer Pettigrew says, “you married men had better put your feet down pretty hard. Hit ’em where it really hurts, in the poeketbook.”
“That’s right,” one of the younger men, not married yet, puts in. “Don’t give ’em any money till they quit this nonsense. That’ll bring them around in a hurry.”
I felt sort of funny when he said that. Just about a month ago Maude had talked me into setting up a joint account. She said that way, if anything happened to me, my account wouldn’t be frozen up and she and Tim and Susie could go on eating and get me buried proper and pay the bills. She was sort of cute about it and I let her have her way. Maude’s sensible with money and I didn’t have any fears on that score. But now I felt a bit uneasy. I slipped out of the crowd and headed over toward the bank. Then I noticed I was being followed. About fifty other fellows were coming along the same way. We all got to the bank about the same time.
“Maude drew out every cent yesterday morning, Ken,” Horace Phillips tells me. “I thought of calling you, but it was all aboveboard and it’s not up to me to interfere.”
I gulped and went over and sat on the bench by the wall for a while. I’m not a wealthy man but we’ve got just the two kids and Maude manages to keep expenses down. I’ve got my shop and my house and five thousand to boot. Except now Maude had the five thousand. And all perfectly legal, too. Come to think of it, we owned the house jointly as well.
When I came out of it a bit, I noticed every bench in the bank was full. Most of the men looked pale and I knew right away they were in the same fix as I was.
“I put the car and the business in Helen’s name,” Fred Burkitt says to nobody in particular. “I was going to beat the succession duties. Fm wiped out, boys. She owns the house, the car, the business and she’s drawn out the money.”
He put his head down in his hands and I thought he was going to cry. Then he gets up.
“Fm going to get drunk,” he tells the benchers. “That is if I’ve got enough change in my pockets to get drunk on.” And he walks out with determination in his eye.
THAT was the worst week the town of Dixon ever had or is ever likely to have unless we get the plague. Business came to a standstill. School was closed because every woman teacher sent word she was home sick—even old Miss Cartwright who hadn’t missed a day since she taught me thirty years back. You’d go into a shop and no girls came to wait on you. Usually the owner would be moping around trying to figure out where the stuff was because
Most men seem to share The unjust delusion ! That women’s clubs are
Just proand con-fusion.
he’d come to depend on the girls. The Chronicle came out with just four pages and most of that was pictures. The headline said, DIXON WOMEN GO ON STRIKE! You can bet that was news to us! The grocery stores might just as well have closed up. When it leaked out that Caroline Perkins had got 500 pounds of flour over at Medway, we got a sinking feeling in our stomachs.
Our stomachs weren’t acting right anyway. Nearly every man in Dixon was eating at the Chinese restaurant. Harry Lem did the best he could, with no girls to wait on the tables or wash dishes, but after a couple of days all the meals tasted the same. Our appetites just wilted away.
Dr. Shoulter sat beside me for supper two days before the election.
“How are things with you, Doc?” I asks.
“You know,” he says, “I just can’t understand it. Nobody’s been sick for over a week. Not a woman has been in my office with any kind of ache or pain. Not one kid has had a sore throat or busted his arm sleigh-riding or come down with mumps.”
“That’s too bad,” I sympathize.
“It’s grim,” he agrees. “Not that I’ll starve in a week, you understand, but if once they get the idea they don’t need me . . .” He shakes his head dolefully. “One good thing, though . . .” “What’s that?” I ask.
“The women are going to find they can’t get along without me pretty soon now. You know Nettie Adams?” “Sure, Bert Adams’ wife.”
“Yes. She’s four days overdue right now. The election isn’t till Monday and it’s almost bound to come before then. She had a run-in with Dr. Giles over at Medway, so she won’t go over there. So they’ll be calling me all right. And I’ve half a mind to give them a damn good scare when they do.”
“Go to it, Doc,” I urge him. “They deserve it.”
And we have to laugh when we think the women can’t get along without a man, even when the job is one strictly for women, so to speak.
But next day he looked pretty down in the mouth.
“Any news of Nettie?” I ask him hopefully.
“She had her baby last night,” he tells me sadly. “Nine-pound girl, 1 hear.”
“You hear?” I exclaim. “Don’t you know? Weren’t you there?”
“Oh, they called me,” he admits. “Caroline Perkins called me about two o’clock in the morning. 1 jumped into my duds and went right over. I bet I wasn’t ten minutes.”
“Caroline answered the door. She said I was too late. She said I should know how Nettie was with her babies by now and I should have got there quicker. She said the baby was born and everything was fine and they had no need of my services.”
“Yes. She said she ought to report me to the Medical Association for negligence. She said I could tell Bert Adams it was a nine-pound girl and Nettie planned to call it Caroline.”
And Doc shakes his head again and walks on back to his office, not hurrying like he used to. He knows there’s nobody waiting.
It was just after that the news about Flora Mae’s got around town. Flora Mae lived out at the edge of Dixon. Her house was back from the road a piece and some of the fellows used to go there from time to time to have a beer and chew the fat. Nothing really wrong with that, I suppose. But the women in town, all the wives and mothers, hated Flora Mae like poison. They wouldn’t speak to her on the street, the few times she came into town. Flora Mae would have been pretty lonesome if she’d had to depend on them for companionship, I can tell you.
Well, naturally, with all the women away and the men being so lonesome, some of them took it into their heads to drive out to Flora Mae’s. But when they got there, they drove right on past. Bert Adams came back looking pretty white.
“They’ve got two of the wives out there,” he tells us and his voice is shaking a bit. “They’re walking up and down in front of Flora Mae’s and they’ve got a banner to carry. It’s about three feet wide and it says UNFAIR TO ORGANIZED WOMEN.” He shakes his head pretty doleful. “They’re picketing her place, that’s what they’re doing! And the worst of it is, I think they saw me. When I drove by, they wrote something down in a little book.”
It had got so you didn’t know what the women would do any more. There didn’t seem to be much they wouldn’t do.
I think it was the business at Flora Mae’s though, that got Merv’s dander up. Because next thing we hear is that he’s holding a meeting over at the Town Hall. It went without saying that it was a men’s meeting. Merv was up at the front, smiling away, and the councilors were all sitting in a row and the Public Utilities Committee were ranged round a little table with a bunch of papers in front of them.
“Now, fellows,” Merv starts out in his hearty way, “this here situation in Dixon has reached what is known as major proportions.”
He coughs a bit and beams all round at evei*ybody. Then he says, “Your elected representatives feel that something should oughta be done. It has been suggested by the chairman of the Public Utilities”—and Merv bows toward Tom Lederer “that in the public interest it might be a good idea to cut off the power and water service to the residence of one Caroline Perkins in order to make some major repairs to the system. Now, far be it from me,” Merv goes on, “to inconvenience a lady, but the basis of our democratic system rests on the sacrifice of the minority to the good of the majority.”
We all nod at that and some fellows say “Hear, hear” and “Good old Merv” and you can see the men of Dixon are behind him, solid.
“Now what we want to know,” Merv
continues, and he isn’t smiling now, “is whether there is any fellow here likely to object to this power and water being cut off?”
There is a dead silence. Merv waits a minute. Then his big smile comes out again and he says, quite happy, “I take it we are in agreement.” Everybody cheers.
There is a little stir at the back of the room and Herb Pilton is on his feet. He’s the owner of the Dixon Pure Milk Dairy.
“I’ve been thinking along the same lines as our esteemed mayor,” Herb
starts out, “and I would like the men of Dixon to know that as of tomorrow there will be no more milk and butter delivered to the residence of Caroline Perkins.” Everybody cheers again and Herb sits down, wiping his face with his handkerchief and looking modest.
NONE of us men ever did hear just what did happen at Caroline’s when the power and water went off. They must have had quite a time of it stumbling around in the dark. We heard that the next afternoon six or seven of them went out to the Miller
sale on the fourth concession and bought up a whole bunch of oil lamps, all the kerosene he had around and his old wood stove. So it looked like they wouldn’t be too bad off.
It was about five o’clock that day when Sam West came roaring into town in his big car. He was red in the face and just choking with rage when he pulled up to the Post Office where some of us men were standing around chewing the rag. He was so mad we could hardly understand him.
Sam is the biggest dairy farmer in these parts and his Holstein herd is one of the finest anywhere in Ontario. Sam’s been aiming at taking the butterfat record this year with his cow. She has some highfalutin name like Abbekirk Royal Shady Buttercup but mostly Sam calls her Buttercup. He’s been nursing her along and keeping records of every drop of milk she gave and what she ate and timing her and weighing her and scrubbing her till you’d have thought she was a new Cadillac instead of a cow. Anyway, when he stopped sputtering long enough, we made out that the women had stolen Buttercup. You couldn’t really call it stealing, I guess, because the note they left was signed by his wife. “Am borrowing Buttercup, love, Barbara” was what it said.
Sam was wild ! He had to keep his records every day, regular as clockwork and here they’d taken Buttercup and were drinking her milk, sure as God made little apples, and butterfat along with it! Then he heard Marco Polo raising a ruckus. Marco Polo is Sam’s bull, Grand Reserve Champion at the CNE last year. He was pawing the floor and puffing and blowing and butting his head and pretty soon Sam saw why. The women had hung a big sign around his neck. There was this big picture of a bottle of milk and their same old slogan, WOMEN CAN DO IT BETTER.
THE NIGHT before the election 1 went up to the house to get Tim’s supper. The minute I opened the door, it hit me. Maude was home. The whole house was alive. The smell of baking filled the front hall. I could hear steak frying. There’s no sound in the world like steak frying. I went into the kitchen. Maude had her back to me, still working at the stove. Two lemon pies were sitting on the cupboard. The table was laid with the best dishes and there were roses on it. It sure looked nice. Tim was washed and he had on a clean shirt. I hardly knew him. Susie came running over to me.
“Hello, Ken,” Maude says, turning around. “Supper’s ready.” Just as though she’d never been away.
“Now, see here, Maude,” I says, “if you think this vanishing trick of yours is going to get my vote ...”
“Sit down, Ken,” she interrupts. “The steak’s done to a turn.”
It was, too. And the pie was the best she ever made. I helped her with the dishes. When we were finished, I asked her right out, “Where’s my five thousand, Maude?”
“Otr five thousand,” she corrects me, still sweet as pie. “Why, I’ve got it.”
“Dm’t you think it would be safer back Ji the bank?” I ask, kind of sharp.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” she answers, “and I thought that after the election—if everything goes all right, that b—we might set up two accounts, one for you and one for me, and split the money fifty-fifty.”
“I see,” I tell her, slowly.
“I’m glad you do, Ken,” she smiles.
We had a pleasant evening, me listening to the radio and Maude ironing shirts for me and Tim. When we went upstairs she never even glanced toward the guest room.
“It sure is nice to have you back, Maude,” I tell her, and I’m glad Merv Tillbury isn’t there to hear me say it, but I can’t help myself.
“I hope I won’t have to go away again.” she whispers, kissing me.
But next morning when I get up, she’s gone. And I wonder if I dreamed it that she was home at all.
“Gse whiz,” Tim says, when he comes down to breakfast. “Gee whiz, Dad!” And I know just how he feels.
Wtll, election day was a busy day, I can tell you. So busy that none oi us fellows had a chance to talk to one another. We hauled every man that was able to be moved to the polls. And we saw lots of women. They brought Clayl Kelly’s wife out of her bed and old Mrs. Simmons from the hospital and darned if Nettie Adams wasn’t there, too, and her baby only a few days old. Flora Mae was driving for us, but somebody kept letting the air out of her tires every place she stopped and it slowed her up. The women were all laughing and joking and jolly as could be. The men never opened their mouths.
Long about four o’clock Merv Tillbury got a bunch of us together and we went over to his house to make sandwiches. We made kind of a mess of that. And we hunted out cups and saucers and spoons and things. Then we went back down to wait for the results.
It was a record vote in Dixon. Out of thirteen hundred possible votes, 1,203 were recorded. The women got 1,123 of them.
The funny thing was that when Merv Tillbury personally asked every man in town if he voted for the women every man jack of them denied it. I denied it too.
The party over at Caroline Perkins’ was just about the best this town will ever see. At first there were just women at it. Then Merv Tillbury, fortified with a good stiff drink, went over to congratulate the new mayor. Some of the rest of us tagged along. The women were all flushed and chattering like magpies and they all crowded around Merv just like they used to do when he won. Finally he sat down and then some of the fellows came by to see what was keeping us so long and what with one thing and another, we sent over to Merv’s for the sandwiches. The lights came on about then and things really got going. It was nearly four o’clock when Maude and I got home and next morning Maude brought me my breakfast in bed.
Well, sir, the Christmas spirit got hold of us about then and it lasted right up till New Year’s. Yesterday the women were all sworn in over at the Town Hall. We had newspaper people here from a hundred miles around and flashbulbs were popping all over Dixon. Caroline’s first official act as mayor was to slap a business
tax on Flora Mae’s place. Maude was appointed chairman of the Board of Works. She was pretty thrilled. It was quite a day. And it turned out to be quite a night, too.
It began snowing about suppertime, big soft flakes. Then the wind began to howl. By nine o’clock it was a real blizzard. Joe Atkins didn’t make it home from Medway till past two o’clock I hear, and it was still coming down then. Trucks in the ditch all along the way, he said. Drove five miles with his head out the window.
When I got up this morning, you
could hardly see out. Couldn’t see the sidewalks at all or where the street was, even. And still snowing.
When I came down to breakfast, our phone was ringing off the wall. Maude was sitting in a chair in the kitchen, not answering it, and she was crying her eyes out.
“Everybody’s phoning me about the snow plows,” she sobs. “The roads are all blocked, you can’t get in or out of Dixon. And the main street is plugged up. And some of the telephone wires are down and the whole east section has no hydro and half the
plumbing is frozen up and the phone just rings and rings and somebody swore at me . . .”
“Well, don’t just sit there,” I snaps at her. “Phone Bob Clarke and get the snow plows moving. That’s all you have to do.”
She only cries harder.
“I did phone him,” she says. “I even yelled at him a little and he said . . . he said . . .”
“Well, what did he say?” I ask her, all impatient.
“He said ‘WOMEN CAN DO IT BETTER!’” *