Interviewee: Anne W. Rehm
IWY SC 664
Interviewer: Kathie J. Carter
Date: June 11, 1977
Anne W. Rehm, of Camden, South Carolina, attended the IWY conference because she believed in equal rights for women and women taking responsibility for themselves. Rehm was 58-years-old. Interview includes Rehm’s impressions of other women’s meetings and her disappointment with IWY speakers who did not show up to the meeting. She also discussed her experience with special needs children and her time on the Kershaw County mental health board.
Kathie J. Carter: Give me your name and address, please.
Anne Rehm: My name is Ann Rehm, and I’m from Camden, South Carolina.
KC: What brought you to the meeting today, Ann? What brought you to this meeting today?
AR: Well, I believe, um, in equal rights for women. And I believe the only way women are going to get equal rights is to participate in things like this, and to take on responsibilities, um, because if you don’t take on the responsibility, you can’t have the goodies. And, though, I came for a learning experience.
KC: What is it you hope to learn?
AR: I have to learn to stand on my own feet, and take care of myself. And, um, it has been very easy for me to have somebody to take care of me, because people have always wanted to take care of me, and I just had to sit back and let them. And, so, I have to make experiences for myself, where I have to take care of myself. And this is one of them. And I have always, since I was a very tiny little girl, been just enraged at the differences between boys and girls. Girls had to do this, boys . . . could go sit in, and read the paper after dinner, but girls had to come clean up. Boys go to college, because they have to earn a living. Girls are going to get married, and they don’t have to go to college. And it has been all along the line. Boys can do this, and girls can’t. And I have always been just absolutely enraged, even when I was a tiny little girl.
KC: About the differences . . .
AR: . . . between . . . that it was . . . the unfairness of it all.
KC: Mmm. Well, what is it . . . you say part of your learning to be more responsible for your own person is, you know . . . learning to do that is coming to the meeting. What else might you have to learn today? Did you come yesterday?
AR: Yes, I did.
KC: This weekend . . .
KC: . . . what else might you have to learn? Hope to learn?
AR: Well, I am extremely afraid in, um, any situation where I, um . . . in an adult situation. I have been a cute kid all of my life, and I have been able to get away with it. And whenever I have to be something besides a party girl, cute kid, I’m terrified. And just the fact of coming and meeting – because nobody here cares about cute kids or party girls. And just the fact that I’m here, by myself, without a friend, or anybody to say, oh, you know, to bolster me up. If I get just nothing but the ounce of meeting that fear out of it, I will have gotten my money out of it.
KC: This interview is hard for you?
AR: Well, it’s not really hard for me, because this is one of the other problems, is I am basically a very open person. But, um, I’m fifty-eight years old, and when I was brought up, women were not allowed to be honest, and I have always felt extremely hypocritical. And, yet, I didn’t know how to break out of hypocrisy. Because, you know, you got clobbered if you did.
KC: You appear to me to be nervous, ‘cause you’re shaking.
AR: I’m nervous because I’m, you know, ever since . . . I’m nervous because I drove my car all the way over to Columbia, and try to park it, and so on.
KC: That was . . . even that was hard for you.
AR: Yeah. Um-hmm.
KC: What are you hoping to come out of the meetings?
AR: That I’ll just grow. I don’t expect anything. I will just wait and see what happens. But I will grow. And I don’t know. I just wait. Next day will bring something else.
KC: What’s been your impression of the activities here so far?
AR: Well, I was disappointed, because some of the speakers they said expected didn’t show. And I thought that was bad. I don’t think you should say so-and-so’s going to come, are we expect, um . . . and then not have them show. ‘Cause that’s a disappointment. And, um . . . I . . . one of the impressions – and I think it is with all women’s meetings, kind of thing, is they’re just not as organized as men. And I . . . I mean, it’s just . . . it’s not a criticism of women. It’s because they have never had to be. And they’ve . . . I’ve been . . . have belonged to organizations where there were mostly men. In fact, I would be just myself and another woman in the organization. And, um, there’s a big difference. I’ve been in organizations where they were all women. And it . . . and I don’t . . . not a criticism of women. It’s a criticism of the way they were brought up. For instance, um, when people nominated themselves. I thought that could have been handled much better. Faster, and so on.
And I think the men would have done it, not because men are any different, but because they’ve had the experience. And I think women coming to things like this, doing it, next year they’ll think about it and do it better. I think women have been told not to think. I know I was told not to think. Not, not in those words. But I was told, you can’t take care of yourself. You need somebody to do things for you. And that’s a very hard concept to get over.
KC: You said in your experience with other meetings that women have appeared to be, or indeed been, disorganized. What other kinds of meetings have you been to where the large majority of people there were female?
AR: Well, um, oh . . . in (unintelligible at 5:53) Like, the traditional things, like church and garden club, but also, um, I was, um . . . a room. We called it a “room mother” for retarded, trying to get a class for retarded children. Now, this has been about twenty-five years ago in Camden. At that time, we had nothing for the retarded children. And, um, they spent the whole day gossiping, and a sand… you know, lunch. And the . . . I was very busy at that time. And I was . . . the whole day spent for work that could have been done in about an hour’s time. And, uh, we planned things for these children, because, you know, there was no money, and so we planned parties and outings, and all for them. It could have been done in an hour’s time. It was spent talking about everybody in town, and eating, and drinking coffee, and so on.
And then I was also on the Kershaw County mental health board for a number of years, where it was basically men. And I was . . . myself and another women, were, had a little social club for, um, women who’d returned from mental hospital. And so we met once a week with, um, social workers, and psychologists, and so on, and discussed these women. And the difference . . . we ate lunch together and discussed these women, and the difference in the way business was handled here – I mean, for the retarded children and here – uh, two different things.
Now, garden club, church things, those sort of things are not their social. You know, heart-fund, dance. That’s social. And that’s ok. But the retarded children was not . . . I mean, school class of retarded children was not social. And the . . . it should have been handled in an hour’s time, so we could go on about our other business.
KC: Why do you think it was not handled more expeditiously?
AR: I don’t think they knew any better. I mean, these were mostly, um, older women. I don’t think . . . I just don’t think they knew it. I think that they were still part of their party. I think that women have been confined to the home, and that it’s, you know, their only out. You know, when you’re home alone all day long with nobody to talk to, uh, when you do get out, I guess . . . I mean, it’s like meeting at the watering.
(Break in audio at 8:20)
KC: Is, uh, there anything else you’d like to add for the record?
AR: Um, not really. Just, you know, keep on plugging away, and, yeah, doing the best you can each day, and being aware of what you’re doing, and learning. And I, I think the roots will start growing again.
KC: Well, thank you very much.
AR: You’re welcome.
End of Interview