Voices of Minnesota: Elmer Anderson and Kay Hills

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Hour 2 of Midmorning featuring Voices of Minnesota with Elmer Anderson, Kay Hills, author of "From Pocahontas to Power Suits: Everything You Need to Know about Women's History in America." Also, women comment on violence against women at rally in Loring Park.

Transcripts

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KAREN BARTA: From the FM News Station, I'm Karen Barta. A pioneer in transplant surgery is scheduled to be arraigned today in a Minneapolis federal court. Prosecutors say Dr. John Najarian disregarded federal laws in connection with his work on an anti-rejection drug.

The Metropolitan Council Transit Operation is cutting bus routes in the Twin Cities area in an effort to deal with the $6.1 million budget shortfall this year. Bob Givens of the MTCO says the changes which took effect over the weekend are the first in a series of cutbacks which will result in a 5% reduction in bus service by the end of the year.

BOB GIVENS: It looks like in September we'll have to go through another round of route cutting. We have a $6.1 million deficit that we're trying to cope with this year, and the picture for future years of funding looks difficult as well. Our budget is about $134 million. We get about $6.5 million federal operating subsidy, and it looks like that's going to leave us. Property tax growth is nearly stagnant, and that's a principal source of our funding as well.

KAREN BARTA: Givens says the route cutbacks will save the MCTO about $1 million a year. Senate committees today take up a host of tax and spending bills. Measures up for consideration include funding for higher education, health care, and natural resources.

The state forecast includes a winter weather advisory for the Southwest today and a winter storm watch for the Southwest into West Central Minnesota tonight. Mostly cloudy in the far northeast, occasional snow in the southwest, possibly mixed with sleet or freezing drizzle. For the Twin Cities this morning, windy with scattered light snow or flurries.

Around the region in Rochester, there's sleet. It's 29 degrees. It's cloudy and 32 in Duluth. Cloudy and 31 in Saint Cloud. And in the Twin cities, flurries and 34. That's news. I'm Karen Barta on the FM News Station. It's 6 minutes past 10 o'clock. Today's programming is made possible in part by the advocates of Minnesota Public Radio. Contributors include Rosemont Incorporated and First Banks, the Regions Financial partner for 62 years.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

PAULA SCHROEDER: Midmorning continues on the FM News Station. I'm Paula Schroeder. The label Liberal Republican is regarded by many these days as a contradiction, but Elmer L. Andersen wears the label with pride. Today, on Midmorning, we bring you a conversation with the former Minnesota governor, state lawmaker, civic leader, and businessman.

This is the first in a series of conversations with Minnesotans of diverse background who've had an influence on the people, policies, and culture of the state. We'll bring you these conversations every Monday at this time as part of midmorning. Elmer Andersen is now 86 years old, served one term as Minnesota Governor from 1961 to '63.

His bid for re-election resulted in the closest vote ever in the state. And after six months of recounts and court challenges, he lost the seat to DFLer Karl Rolvaag. Prior to his term as governor, he served 10 years in the state legislature. Following his defeat as governor, he returned to the company for which he had worked since 1934, and he headed the H.B. Fuller Company, the Saint Paul adhesives manufacturer until his retirement in 1994.

He was a civic and education leader as well, serving on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for 10 years, chairing the Bush Foundation for 13. He was head of the Minnesota Orchestral Association and chairman of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He has an abiding interest in the environment and continues to work to preserve the North Shore of Lake Superior.

He's been honored more times than you can count. His accomplishments could fill a book. But perhaps most notable about this man is his character, integrity, warmth, and graciousness. I had the great privilege of visiting Andersen at his home in Arden Hills recently. He had coffee and muffins ready in his well-appointed library lined with the rare books he's been collecting over the years with piles of papers and magazines stacked on a large table waiting to be used in the next project he embarks on.

Age has not slowed Andersen's activity or diminished his intellect, though he does walk slowly, a result of his bout with polio when he was a child. He had recently returned from Washington, where he had visited with Republican party leaders. Andersen says he is concerned about how partisan politics have become since he was in office.

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: After the election, the partisanship kind of disappeared, and you worked with people who were of one mind and program, and there wasn't such a big difference. I remember working with people like Tom Vukelich on junior college state programs and working with Don Frazier. When Don was in the Senate, I remember interesting times when we worked together on workers compensation.

And I still think of myself as a Liberal, though, I like to define the term and not accept somebody else's the term as being taken over as the word gay was taken over to mean something other than it traditionally or dictionary did. And so I still think of myself as a Liberal Republican. Some staunch Democrats I know say, Elmer, that's really the best of all worlds.

[LAUGHS]

PAULA SCHROEDER: How do you define liberal?

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: I define liberal as one who is reaching out for new truth, willing to change, willing to be open-minded, willing to consider what the demand is, and a certain pragmatic to it. Those are the kinds of words I think of as liberal. I don't think of him as irresponsible, spendthrifts that turn to government for everything.

I think freedom of the individual is very a liberal idea. And then I think of the freedom of the mind. "Liber" in liberal comes from really book as the root word. And so I think of books and learning and liberal and change and open-mindedness. That's my idea of what a liberal is. That's what I like to be.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, in fact, you were back in 1957 when you sponsored the Fair Employment Act that bans discrimination based on race.

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Well, I really-- in '57, I handled-- I was main author in the Senate on the Fair Employment Practices Act, and Minnesota was the fifth state in the country to pass it. And it's one of the happiest memories, most touching, moving memories I have is leaving the Senate chamber late one night when we'd had a harsh debate and finally won, and it was clear the bill was going to pass.

And as I left the chamber, a fine black man who was serving as the sergeant-at-arms I could see he wanted to talk to me as I left. And so I paused and greeted him. And he said, you know, senator, tonight for the first time, I felt like a real man. And that's a tremendous thing when another human being has had to feel that somehow they're not quite human, or they're not quite up to other people, that's a dreadful thing.

And now when people are impatient with different minority groups, when you think of the generations of deprivation and discrimination, and then they're get impatient if something doesn't happen overnight, I think we have to figure it may take generations to really get integrated where we don't see color in other people, and where we just accept each other as human beings and realize that in every person there's great opportunity for potential.

It's dreadful, when you think back on it, how our wonderful country could have been started based on slavery and accepting slaves as property. It's hard to imagine. It's hard to imagine anything that's old and obsolete when you have new knowledge.

I think the greatest challenge to life is to be ready to accept new knowledge and to accept change. That's the hardest thing. And when people are so sure they're right, and particularly when I think of people I think of having a messianic complex when they think somehow they're guided by God to take a very narrow, harsh position and to do dreadful things in the name of God, that's sad.

PAULA SCHROEDER: So are you concerned about where the Republican Party is going today?

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: I certainly am. Certainly am. I think it's a long-- the National Republican Party is a long way from the Minnesota Republican heritage. And the Minnesota Republican Party has become very narrowly focused and quite a ways away from what the party used to be.

As a long-time Senator told me the other day in Washington that the Republicans may think they've taken over the South, but what has really happened is that the Southern Democrat conservatives have turned Republican, and they've taken over the Republican Party. So the Republican Party today is a Southern Conservative Party. And much as we like everybody in our country, the record of enlightenment is not shining most brightly in the South.

And this idea of turning everything back to the states, it was Humphrey, who I think in his brightest moment at a national Democrat convention, said, it's time to come out from the shadow of state rights into the sunshine of human rights. And Minnesota's record is so good in so many areas that I hate to see it dragged down to some national level that's much lower than what it has been.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You have also said in the past that any new idea is not going to come to fruition immediately, that it often takes decades for that to happen.

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Yes.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Have you seen anything that you wanted to see accomplished get accomplished?

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Oh, yes. I should say I have with great satisfaction. But tying one example into the factor of time, I became interested in our state having a national park and feeling that the area up on the border was ideal for that. And in 1960, when Conrad Wirth, who was the son of Theodore Wirth of Minneapolis Park history, was director of the National Park Service, we thought, here is our chance.

So in connection with dedicating some state parks, I think one was Bear Head Lake State Park when Conrad Wirth came out to speak, we got him to spend an extra day, and we went up and toured the Kabetogama Peninsula area to see if we could convince him that area was worthy enough of national park status to at least deserve a study.

That's all we asked for. That we thought this really ought to be a national park but would he at least agree to study the possibility and the potentiality and the qualification. And he agreed to do so. It took 10 years from 1960 to 1970 to gather public support in Minnesota to get the work done in Congress to get a bill passed that authorized the park.

That's only the beginning. It took 10 more years to get the land exchange and to get other state legislation and to get other things done that justified establishing the park. The first step is authorization. The second step is to really establish the park. And that was done in 1980.

Then it took seven more years to get the money to build a visitor center and other facilities, so somebody could drive in, and the facilities were there so they could really have a national park experience in Minnesota, the only water-based park in the whole park system.

And I was at the beginning in 1960 and worked on and off for 27 years on that project. And in 1987, I was there for the dedication of the Visitor Center. So I've come to have great patience about how long it takes. And I frequently have told folks, you never lose. You never really lose. When you work on a bill in the legislature, and you have to work and work and work, you never lose because all of the time you're making some contribution toward ultimate realization if it's a good idea, if it's sound, and if really ought to happen.

But one that didn't take quite so long that I just gained enormous satisfaction, in 1955, when I was in the state senate, I became chairman of a commission, interim commission, as we called it then, to study the problems of handicapped children in Minnesota.

We quickly learned that we shouldn't call them handicapped, we should call them special children because the gifted were as needing of special attention as those with disabilities. But, in any event, in 1957, we passed all of the legislation that was indicated in Minnesota. Immediately stepped out in the vanguard of the states. And it wasn't for about 20 years that national legislation caught up with the state of Minnesota in the field of special education.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You're listening to a conversation with former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen on Midmorning from the FM news station. I'm Paula Schroeder. It's 19 minutes past 10 o'clock right now. Fair to poor driving conditions across most of Southern Minnesota. 10 inches of snow fell in Tyler overnight and this morning.

And light snow, freezing rain, and sleet continues to plague drivers in that part of the state. The snow is going to be moving north across Minnesota. In fact, it's moving into the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities as we speak. So we'll keep you up to date on that throughout the morning.

Well, after Governor Andersen's defeat in the 1964 gubernatorial election, he returned to his business. H.B. Fuller, then a relatively small adhesives manufacturer in Saint Paul, and went on to become an influential business leader.

As CEO of H.B. Fuller Company, I know that your leadership of that company was seen as light years ahead of some other businesses, particularly around the country, one in which you had great respect for customers and employees before profits. which is kind of a new idea in America.

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Well, it certainly was at the time we started on it. It's gaining a little credence now, though, currently, again, we're in a state where it just bothers me so much that so many considerations relate to money. I think of money as a medium of exchange. It's important, and it's nice to have some. But it isn't the priority that it's now getting in company reports. It's just this quarter compared to last quarter, and it's all short-term money making.

It just makes me cringe to be at any meeting and have anybody say we're in business to make money because I have to speak up and say, well, we don't believe that. We're not in business to make money. And just briefly, our philosophy-- and I think every person, every institution, every business should have a philosophy-- our philosophy was that a corporation is a privileged form of organization. It has limited liability. It has all kinds of privileges granted it by the society that charters a corporation. Therefore, the corporation has responsibilities.

First, responsibility should be to the customer to be honest, to have a product or service that is needed and to provide it efficiently and effectively. Secondly, that it be the deliberate purpose of the corporation to benefit the people associated in the enterprise, that you concentrate as much on ideas of how to do better with the associates in the company as on new products or anything else.

And I stress that deliberate purpose of a corporation to benefit the people who are associated in it has meant a lot to me. Then, of course, you do have to make a profit, and it is important. But if you get it in the wrong order of priority, you're tempted to do the wrong things.

If all you're in business for is to make money, of course, it is a temptation to cheat the customer a little bit because it goes to the bottom line. I hate bottom line talk. And similarly, if all you're in business for is to make money, well, then you hire people as cheap as you can and invest as little as possible in them. And so on it's the wrong philosophy. It's the wrong priority.

Then we added as the fourth important priority is loyalty and concern about the community because the environment in which all of us live is important to all of us. And I would try to insist and instill in people the idea if you do the first priority about customers, and the second priority about the people you're associated with, the third one will happen. You will make profit. And that, of course, was the record of Fuller, which had a splendid record which has continued under my son Tony and his associates.

So they had a celebration here not so long ago for crossing the billion mark for the first time and to be a Fortune 500 company. But in 1987, when Fuller became Fortune 500 for the first time, I gained greater satisfaction out of a book that came out identifying the 100-- only 100 best firms to work for in the United States, 100.

And they singled out Fuller, which at that time was relatively obscure company. We didn't make a public product or have a lot of public advertising. We weren't that well known. But to be singled out as one of the best companies to work for, that meant more to me. I knew we were going to be in the Fortune 500 because we were growing faster than the threshold was going up. So it was just a matter of time until we caught up with Fortune 500.

And so I think that those in leadership positions, those leading corporations ought to really realize that it's in their own best interest to get off this tack that taxes are so high and that the poor people are getting too much and get around to the point that they're so privileged, they're so highly paid. They really enjoy so much.

And the society is strong. Society is so important to their future existence. They should be in the vanguard of making the American dream possible for everybody. Because if it isn't possible for everybody, it isn't secure for anybody. That's another feeling I've had so often that we have to make America great for everybody.

And we just have two large and growing complement of people who feel disenfranchised, who feel helpless, who feel neglected. And that isn't good, and so they don't even vote. So I think we have some pretty serious problems, even though we're great and wonderful country.

And for most of the people, it's just it just fabulously satisfying. But you cannot have a growing significant portion of people that are feeling the contrary. So the US is a wonderful country. We have to make it a better country for those who are of a mind that they're less favored right now.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You certainly came out of a difficult situation yourself having polio and spinal meningitis when you were 9, you weren't supposed to even live. Five years later, both of your parents died. What do you think it is that led you to the path that you were on? As you said, you were such an intense person, very hard working person. What drove you?

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Well, you know, how do we know where all the genes come from?

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: But I think I had a father who was a very hard worker, and I think he instilled a work ethic. He was born in Norway. He came over here, worked very hard and worked hard to provide opportunity for his children. Our mother was a very religious person. She used to spend a lot of time out looking for unchurched families to get children to Sunday school.

In fact, I think it was that led to the illness that took her life because she had overexposure in bad weather, got pneumonia and died at an age. Because at that time, pneumonia was a deathly disease where now it's fairly routine to cure it.

And I think the one factor was that we had a family solidarity. I had two older brothers and a younger sister, and we stayed together. I can remember some of those early housekeeping chores. I was kind of chief cook and bottle washer for a while.

And I remember once baking a cake, and I think I left out the baking powder or something, and instead of rising and getting fluffy and nice, it fell flat and was hard as a rock. And I didn't mind when the family couldn't eat it, but when I threw it in the chicken coop and the chickens wouldn't even eat it, I really felt hurt.

[LAUGHTER]

But in any event, we stayed together. And it never even occurred to us to look for any outside assistance. But I do remember one blessed event that would happen because ours was a very modest family. But while my mother was still living, she had had a classmate in school who had married someone who set up a piston ring company and grew up with the automobile industry, became very wealthy.

And she used to come at Christmas time with bags of goodies for our family. I remember we used to call her Piston Ring Johnson. When Mrs. Piston Ring Johnson came, that was a great day because she brought gifts and oranges, and having an orange was a Christmas occasion.

Of course, back in those days, which is now quite a long time ago, fruit for all families was much more limited than it is now. My goodness me, when we think today that we can have raspberries that come from Chile, it's incredible the blessings that we enjoy today. And I constantly am aware of how much we have to be thankful for. The work ethic was strongly ingrained in me, and I think it's a good ethic to enjoy working.

PAULA SCHROEDER: You have been married to the same woman for more than 60 years. I would imagine that she's had some influence on your life.

ELMER L. ANDERSEN: Oh, my, I just could not overemphasize the importance that my wife Eleanor has been in my life and work. We were married in 1932 at the bottom of the depression. She was 21. I was 23. So now for 62, in fact, we're into our 63rd year of that marriage, and all along the way, her love and her support, her counsel, her wisdom, her patience, her help in every conceivable way has made all the difference in the world. She's really quite a private person, but she's been incredibly helpful to me in all that I have been trying to do.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen in a conversation at his home in Arden Hills Next week at this time, as part of Midmorning, we'll hear from another Minnesota political figure, Rudy Boschwitz. We'll be bringing you these conversations every Monday at this time through May on Midmorning with Minnesotans from diverse backgrounds. We hope you enjoy them.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

It's 10:30.

SPEAKER 1: I know cancer is just a word, but once they use that and they're talking about you, it changes your life forever.

SPEAKER 2: 1 in 3 Americans will be told, you have cancer. During the last week in April, the FM News Station examines the battle against the disease that's killing 1 out of every 5 Americans. The Cancer War on the FM News Station, KNOW-FM 91.1 in the Twin Cities.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Women's history. up next on Midmorning. Here's Karen Barta with a look at the news.

KAREN BARTA: Good morning. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has formally declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in his home state of Kansas. Dole is 71 and is already the GOP front runner. An air traffic controller shortage in New York could affect summer airline travel. The New York Times says overtime pay for the controllers has already eaten up a chunk of the overtime budget for this year.

The state-mandated search for a site to store spent nuclear fuel from Northern states powers Prairie Island plant has eliminated two sites, leaving three potential places between Frontenac and Lake City. Jim Alders, NSP manager for Regulatory Projects says the search will be narrowed to two next month. Those two sites will be submitted for evaluation by the state environmental quality board. Alder says the search was mandated by state lawmakers as part of legislation allowing the company to store spent fuel in casks at the Prairie Island plant.

JIM ALDERS: We're confident that we can identify a facility that can be permitted. It's not something we would have proposed were it not for the Prairie Island legislation, but we're going to have to pursue it in good faith as laid out by the law.

KAREN BARTA: Alder says he expects continuing opposition from residents near the three remaining sites. The House higher education finance division deals with the upcoming higher education merger this afternoon. The panel will consider modifying several provisions that would clear the road for the merger.

The state forecast today includes a winter weather advisory for the southwest and a winter storm watch for the southwest into West Central Minnesota tonight. Mostly cloudy in the far northeast, occasional snow in the southwest, highs mainly in the 30s.

And for the Twin Cities this morning, windy with scattered light snow or flurries. This afternoon, cloudy and windy. A 50% chance of light snow, possibly mixed with sleet or light rain and a high around 40. Around the region in Rochester, there's sleet. It's 29 degrees. It's cloudy and 32 in Duluth. In Saint Cloud, it's cloudy and 31. And in the Twin cities, flurries and 34. Paula, that's a news update from the FM News Station.

PAULA SCHROEDER: All right, Karen. Thank you very much. I'm Paula Schroeder. This is Midmorning on the FM News Station. Karen mentioned, of course, that Bob Dole announced his run for the presidency this morning. And coming up on midday during the 11 o'clock hour, we'll find out what support for Dole is like in Minnesota. That and a lot more coming up on midday.

We're going to be talking about Women's History in the next few minutes here on Midmorning. It's only been about 20 years or so since women's studies classes first began to emerge on college campuses. Well, since then, they've become standard fare at institutions of higher learning.

But perhaps what's even more significant is that many regular history classes now include women in their coursework. That didn't used to be the case. More and more students from elementary to post-secondary schools are learning about people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Margaret Sanger. That's a long road from Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton.

Now, if any of those names don't ring a bell with you, you can brush up on your Women's History by picking up a copy of our guests book. From Pocahontas to power suits everything you need to know about Women's History in America. Kay Mills worked as a journalist for 25 years, many of them as an editorial writer at The Los Angeles Times before turning her attention to Women's History.

She's written a book called This Little Light of Mine, The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, who was, of course, a great leader of the Civil Rights movement that we didn't hear enough about and got great acclaim for that. And this is a very, very usable kind of a book.

It's designed as kind of a primer. It's got set up with questions followed by answers both about specific women and about issues that have affected their lives. And we'll talk about some of those today. Kay Mills, welcome. Thanks for coming in.

KAY MILLS: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Good. You say in your introduction to the book-- first of all, let me before I go into that, I have to say that when I first picked this up and read everything you need to know about Women's History, and I see a 300-page, fairly small book--

[LAUGHS]

KAY MILLS: Of course, it's not everything you need to know. It's everything you need to get started knowing about Women's History.

PAULA SCHROEDER: But it is. It's an incredible. Full compilation of information and very readable as well. So anyway, you say in your introduction to the book that if there is one clear message from almost centuries of Women's History in America, it is that the country still has not resolved its age-old ambivalence about a woman's place.

KAY MILLS: That's right.

PAULA SCHROEDER: What do you mean by that.

KAY MILLS: Absolutely. Well, we look at the treatment that Hillary Rodham Clinton gets in the press. I mean, one day she's taken seriously and she's too oriented toward policy, and the next day the press is worried about her hairstyle yet again. She's just one example.

Anita Hill was either a witch or a delusional or a heroine. I happen to think the latter. So we're just not clear. Any woman who seems to be willing to stick her neck out, still people aren't clear things they will say about a woman that they wouldn't say about a man.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, and one of the other things too that you say that may be the key question about Women's History is, do we have to keep reinventing it every time it comes

KAY MILLS: Up? Exactly. And we've had so many cycles that are much the same. We had a backlash after women started demanding the vote in the middle of the 19th century. We certainly are in the middle of a backlash period now. I think we have seen divisions within the women's movement along race lines, particularly that I hope is healing now, but it's happened several times.

We had divisions among-- certainly, you have among more radical women repeatedly. You have those divisions. And then what seemed radical 40 years ago is mainstream now, and then it's forgotten tomorrow. So this we repeat, often.

One of the reasons I wanted to do the book and one of the reasons I wanted to make it reader friendly was in hopes that we could pull people in to read it, at least get hooked on history, and then look at the sources maybe and go and read some of the biographies or read in more depth about it.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Isn't it a good thing, though, to keep reinventing that in a way? Because, as you mentioned, there are a lot of young women today who think 'twas always thus.

KAY MILLS: Well, unfortunately, they spend a lot of the time doing the same things that had to be done before. And if you-- I mean, it's good to have it rewritten. And one of the things about this book is that the scholarship that you mentioned over the last 20 years, this book couldn't have been written this way 20 years ago because so much I say in the introduction that when I studied history, we studied wars, tariffs, presidents.

Women didn't do that, weren't that. It wasn't until you got into the social history. Women working in canneries, women working in mills, Native American women and what they did, slavery and its effect on women, that you started to get women in history.

So I guess I want to see us continually rewriting history. But if we are having to reinvent it, it means an awful lot of people are going through the same stuff, that it would be nice if we were taking steps forward instead of always a couple back and then some more forward.

PAULA SCHROEDER: So it sounds to me like what you're saying is that Women's History still hasn't been absolutely accepted in history, the generic term history.

KAY MILLS: No, there's still an awful lot there. There still very definitely is the need for special courses on this until you get it fully integrated into the curriculum. And even in the mainstream curriculum, you still have special courses on Western history or literary history.

So there's room for any way you can get people hooked on history, I think is very important.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah, well, I've got to tell you that I was thrilled when my second-grade daughter came home. And they've been studying about colonial America and historical America as well, people of influence, Benjamin Franklin. And she knew about Susan B. Anthony.

KAY MILLS: Right. Great, yeah.

PAULA SCHROEDER: This is second grade. So there are some things that are changing.

KAY MILLS: And I think even Fannie Lou Hamer, you mentioned earlier, she's starting to get into the high school history books now as well she should because this was a brave woman who put her life on the line to try to help African-Americans in the South register to vote.

PAULA SCHROEDER: It's 21 minutes before 11:00 o'clock. You're listening to Midmorning on the FM News Station. And we are talking with Kay Mills who's written a book called From Pocahontas to Power Suits, Everything You Need to Know About Women's History in America. Let's talk a little bit about Pocahontas. There's a big Disney movie coming out.

KAY MILLS: I never dreamed when we made up the title that this was going to happen. I hope it doesn't end up trivializing the book or her story. It will be interesting to see how the myth of Pocahontas is handled because there was in legend a familiar story at the time of Pocahontas about the beautiful princess saving the stranger.

Now, this may have been an initiation rite. But, at any rate, what we do know about Pocahontas, and there was a real Pocahontas, was that she was the daughter of Chief Powhatan in Virginia. She was captured by the British perhaps after this event with John Smith. Kept on shipboard for about a year, converted to Christianity. There's even a portrait of her in Elizabethan dress.

She married a British man, John Rolfe. They had a child. And in about 1618, they sailed to England because the Virginia colony was floundering and they needed to get support from the King and Queen. They paid a visit to court. And Pocahontas either got smallpox or the British weather did her in. She died in England and is buried in a British churchyard.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah.

KAY MILLS: So it will be interesting to see how the movie handles the story.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, in fact, there are Native American women who say, of course, she's the only one-- or she is always portrayed as a princess because that is the only way that white culture could, of course, have any contact with it.

KAY MILLS: And I tried to put-- I wanted to start with Pocahontas for two reasons. I mean, I wanted to start with a Native American woman, because, after all, they were here before the White settlers arrived. I also wanted to start with Pocahontas because she's the first name that we all remember from our classes. But I've got other Native American women in there, Sarah Winnemucca from the Paiute tribe and actually Dakota. I got a little Minnesota in there too with the work that the women did in the Dakota tribe.

PAULA SCHROEDER: What do you think-- maybe instead of asking you what you think is the most significant event in women's history, I'll tell you what I think.

KAY MILLS: That would be hard to single out.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Because it seems that what everyone focuses on is when women got the right to vote, that was a real turning point.

KAY MILLS: Extremely significant, yes

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah for women. And do you think that everything else that they did before they could become a part of that mainstream political system was ignored and has been ignored?

KAY MILLS: That certainly was a contributing factor. If you weren't part of the political structure, you weren't involved in the tariffs and the being president and being elected to things. And your work-- I mean, women-- the old saying, women's place was in the home. And until women's place was in the house and Senate, they weren't taken as seriously. I'm sure that's true.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah. And yet women were very involved in the movement to abolish slavery.

KAY MILLS: Oh, absolutely. And in fact, women really got their start in activism, both in the temperance movement against alcohol consumption and the anti-slavery movement. The first women who spoke out in public were anti-slavery advocates in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and earlier than that, Fanny Wright, the Grimké sisters from South Carolina who had seen slavery firsthand.

So that was the launching pad. And again, talking about the parallels, you had the anti-slavery movement that somewhat begat the women's movement in the 19th century. And in the 1960s, you had the civil rights movement that then helped launch the women's movement when contemporary women saw what organizing and activism had done for African-Americans, then they got busy, too.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Is it safe to say that women had the most impact on social issues?

KAY MILLS: Oh, yes, I think so. Because if you will allow that to be social, political issues, of course. Because military, for example, women weren't in any numbers in the military until World War II and even then it was separate services.

PAULA SCHROEDER: I want to go back to the Seneca Falls Convention at which women took a vote on whether women should have the vote. And even at that, it was--

KAY MILLS: It was revolutionary and radical.

PAULA SCHROEDER: --yeah radical. Yeah, it was the closest vote that they took on there-- what did they call it? Their principles--

KAY MILLS: Declaration of Sentiments--

PAULA SCHROEDER: Right, Declaration of Sentiments

KAY MILLS: --which was closely modeled after the Declaration of Independence, which, as we will recall, said that all men were created equal.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah,

KAY MILLS: But that wasn't the case in the Declaration of Sentiments.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of course, was one of the key players in that convention. Here she is a mother of 7 but really a supporter of women's rights. I just had to read this quote that, "the closest vote came on the resolution urging women to secure the right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton saved some of her toughest language for this debate saying that if drunkards, idiots, horse-racing, rum-selling rowdies, ignorant foreigners, and silly boys had the vote, women should be insulted if they did not."

KAY MILLS: Really pulled her punches, didn't she?

[LAUGHS]

Well, she was viewed as quite radical all through her life. I mean, here was a woman with seven children who wouldn't stay home and in her later years particularly took on organized religion. And the more moderate suffragists wanted to censure her because they felt, and this is the case of the radical versus the moderate, they felt she was going to give them a bad name, as much the same as some of the radical feminists today get frowned upon by the moderates. Same kind of thing.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Yeah. We've only got about a minute or so left in our conversation. We were talking with Kay Mills, by the way, whose book is called From Pocahontas to Power Suits, Everything You Need to Know About Women's History in America.

Who do you think is making history today?

KAY MILLS: Oh, I think the women in the Cabinet, in the Senate.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Donna Shalala.

KAY MILLS: I'm not sure, though, what-- it probably isn't some of the writers and thinkers who will probably-- and some of the activists, or some of the just bystanders who come along. I think we're going to remember Anita Hill probably long after we'll remember some of the women in Congress.

Hillary Clinton certainly is going to be remembered. It will be interesting to see, and I suppose it will depend on whether there's a second term for Clinton, as to whether she ranks with Eleanor Roosevelt. But we can't always tell, but sometimes it's going to be the writers. Toni Morrison we'll remember long after we've forgotten some of the people that are sort of in the headlines temporarily.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Right Well, Kay Mills, the book really is fascinating and along with some of the factual information, great anecdotes as well about some of the women who really have shaped our country. Thanks for writing it.

KAY MILLS: Well, Thank you for having me. I enjoyed talking about it.

PAULA SCHROEDER: The book is called From Pocahontas to Power Suits. And it is published by. Plume, which is a division of Penguin. And it's in paperback, so it's not going to cost you an arm and a leg. [LAUGHS] OK. Thanks, Kay.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

It's 11 and 1/2 minutes before 11:00 o'clock. A reminder that there is a winter weather advisory in effect for the southern part of the state today and that snow, sleet, and freezing rain is going to be moving north across the rest of the state by tonight. We could see some heavy snow tonight along the border with North and South Dakota.

And there is now poor and fair driving conditions in the Southern Minnesota area south of Highway 12. So be aware of that if you're going to be out and about. It's 33 degrees right now in the Twin Cities, and we've got snow right now outside our studio windows here in Downtown Saint Paul. This is Midmorning. I'm Paula Schroeder.

Well, several Minnesota women's organizations put on a rally yesterday afternoon to coincide with one held in Washington, DC by the National Organization for Women. Speakers at Loring Park in Minneapolis urged listeners to become more active in fighting violence against women. The FM News Station's Joaqlin Estus was there and has this report.

JOAQLIN ESTUS: A wide assortment of people came, older women with scarves and shawls to guard against the cold, younger women with tattoos, shaved heads, and leather jackets, T-shirts, overalls, fur trimmed coats, long dresses, straight, gay, disabled, athletic and of all races, more than 600 people attended.

Men were outnumbered about 5 to 1. Banners flapped in a chilling wind, but most of the listeners stayed to hear speeches made to inform and inspire. Eileen Hudon of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women read a poem she wrote called "The Myth of Equality." She began by asking if her battering began when she walked into a courtroom, when she called the police, or when she asked for help.

EILEEN HUDON: "Do I begin my story as a mother escaping violence in the middle of the night, crawling through bushes with little children? No. Then is it when I was married? No. Was it when I was poked, touched, and prodded by boys in the halls of West High school? No. Maybe when I was born a girl? Maybe."

JOAQLIN ESTUS: Through her poem, Hudon talked about the attempt to hide the ugliness of battering with psychological terminology, the way she's been treated as an American-Indian woman, what she wants, equality, and what she expects.

EILEEN HUDON: "You agree to no longer be sucked in by my partner's pitiful past. When I did that, you called it learned helplessness. You agreed to no longer define me in relation to my obedience, to violence, terror, and abuse. When you are in a position to help me, I want this with a spirit of moving a log off the road so I can continue my journey.

You agreed to no longer define my experience with comfortable terminology and psychological slang. I'm worth much more than that. Whose esteem is regarded here? You agree to no longer participate in punishing me for having lived through an assault. You acknowledge a system of abuse to which you will not collude. This is where we begin."

JOAQLIN ESTUS: Hudon was one of a half dozen speakers at the rally. Others reiterated the thought that society has become complacent about violence against women, labeling, categorizing, preventing, treating, doing everything but stopping it. The founder of WHISPER, a Minneapolis organization created to stop the commercial exploitation of women through prostitution, pornography, and adult dancing, Evelina Giobbe says people should be angry about the sex industry in downtown Minneapolis.

EVELINA GIOBBE: Every day, we walk to our safe little jobs, silently passing concrete bunkers where high-school-age girls and college-age young women naked and shaved are compelled to squat over aging executives for a handful of loose bills. Where is our outrage about this?

JOAQLIN ESTUS: In Pretty Women, a popular film of a couple of years ago, actress Julia Roberts plays the part of a prostitute who ends up engaged to an attractive and fabulously wealthy man, one of her johns, played by Richard Gere. Nationally-known author Andrea Dworkin says violence against women isn't a fairy tale.

ANDREA DWORKIN: There is not going to be a happy ending, not to this war against women, unless we manage to dismantle the structures that allow the crimes to happen that protect the people who hurt us wherever they exist, wherever those institutions exist.

JOAQLIN ESTUS: Dworkin says people must change their thinking as well as laws, the entertainment world, and other industries that profit from the sexual exploitation of women. She's a nationally recognized author of several books about hatred and oppression of women and pornography. Dworkin is known locally for her 1980s work to develop anti-pornography ordinances in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. Both those ordinances were vetoed by the respective mayors. For the FM News Station, I'm Jacqueline Estes.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

PAULA SCHROEDER: It's 6 and a 1/2 minutes before 11:00 o'clock. You're listening to Midmorning on the FM News Station.

GARY EICHTEN: Medical science has learned so much. And yet, as Oliver Sacks has shown, there is still so much more to learn. Hi, this is Gary Eichten inviting you to join us for Midday today on the FM News Station. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose book Awakenings was turned into a major motion picture, is out with a new set of stories about unusual disorders and what they teach us.

And he'll be talking about those case studies today on Midday. Midday begins at 11:00 o'clock this morning on the FM News Station, KNOW-FM 91.1 in the Twin Cities.

PAULA SCHROEDER: Now, here's Garrison Keillor.

[PIANO MUSIC]

GARRISON KEILLOR: And here is the Writer's Almanac for Monday, April the 10th, 1995. It's the birthday of a whole varied list of characters. Today, the English essayist William Hazlitt born in 1778 who helped to move the essay a little farther away from the sermon and a little closer to something conversational.

It's the birthday in 1827, in Indiana of Lew Wallace, politician, a general in the Civil War, later a diplomat. And in 1880, he published his second novel, Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ. It sold about 2 million copies almost away. He wrote a later book, The Life of Benjamin Harrison. It wasn't nearly as big a success.

It's the birthday in Nottingham, England, in 1829 of William Booth, a Methodist preacher in the slums of London who founded the Salvation Army. It's the birthday of Eric Knight in 1897. He came from England to the United States and lived in this country the rest of his life. It was under the pen name Richard Harris he wrote in 1940 his book, Lassie Come Home.

It's the birthday in 1901 in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, of Glenway Wescott, expatriate American writer of the 1920s and '30s. His first book, a collection of stories entitled Goodbye Wisconsin in 1928. His novel, The Pilgrim Hawk, came out in 1940.

The novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux, born on this day in 1941, author of The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express and many other books. And it was on this day in 1945 that Allied troops just north of Weimar, Germany entered the Buchenwald concentration Camp and liberated it after some 56,000 persons had died there.

Here's a poem for today by Patricia Barone entitled "Schatzi Auster, The Nursing Home Nurse." "It was golden oldies night, and the grannies sang all six verses of "Don't Fence Me In." Then little Audrey Jean, who's 93, wouldn't even look at her pureed ham and peas. I'm clean dead, she wailed. So to check it out, I took her pulse.

You're going like 60, I told her, if you have a pulse, you can't be dead. It takes a little while, she said for the system to shut down. And I said, why don't you eat to pass the time? Can't eat if I'm dead, she said. Does this look like heaven, I asked her? And she said, no, but everyone looks dead to me. So there.

No one ever died from a change in the schedule. People get ideas, and you can't change them. So I changed the scene. Look lively, I told the other nurses, serve ice cream. I found a dietary, and we called off the doctors. Let the parrot out. Brought in kids with therapeutic pets.

And still Audrey cried, I'm dead. I didn't hold her Haldol. The dog ran in circles around the dayroom. The cat went on a tear. Art raised his Walker overhead. And then I said, party's over. Let's all go to bed. I might be dead, but I had fun, said Audrey." A poem by Patricia Barone, used here by permission of the author.

And that's the Writer's Almanac for Monday, April 10th, made possible by Coles Magazines, publishers of Vegetarian Times and other magazines. Be well, do good work and keep in touch.

[PIANO MUSIC]

PAULA SCHROEDER: Well, that's Midmorning for this Monday, April 10th. Yes, indeed, it's April 10th. Even though you see snow falling outside your window. If you live in the southern part of the state, that's going to continue with us through the rest of the day moving north across the state. We'll keep you up to date here on the FM News Station.

Our program is produced by Benita Edwards and Stephanie Curtis. Our technical director today was Denny Hansen. I'm Paula Schroeder. Thanks a lot for joining us today. Stay tuned. Midday is coming up next. We'll find out about Minnesota's support for the newly announced presidential candidate, Bob Dole.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SPEAKER 3: Any music, any time. One phone call. The Public Radio music source, 1-800-75-MUSIC.

(SINGING) When I grow too old

PAULA SCHROEDER: You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. It's 32 degrees at the FM News Station KNOW-FM, 91.1, Minneapolis, Saint Paul. The time is 11:00 o'clock.

[BELL DINGS]

GARY EICHTEN: Good morning. It's 11:00 o'clock. And this is Midday on the FM News Station. I'm Gary Eichten. In the news this morning, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole is the early front runner for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination.

Dole officially entered the race today, saying that if elected, he will cut taxes, balance the budget, and restore states' rights. University of Minnesota transplant surgeon John Najarian is making his first court appearance today on federal criminal charges. Najarian has been accused of fraud, theft, and tax evasion in connection with the University of Minnesota's ALG drug program.

The Carnegie Foundation is calling on elementary school educators to emphasize the tried and true. The foundation says elementary classes should be held at 20 students, elementary schools to 500 students to make sure students receive the individual attention they need. Those are some of the stories in the news today. Coming up, over the noon hour, we'll hear from world-famous neurologist Oliver Sacks, who for 40 years now has been exploring the frontiers of medical science.

SPEAKER 4: From National Public Radio News in Washington--

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