Remembering EEWC-CFT Member Marillia Hinds

 

Marillia Hinds Celebrating Her 90th BirthdayOn May 29, 2013, long-time EEWC-CFT member Marillia Hinds passed away in Indianapolis.  A short obituary can be read here.

Marillia was a passionate feminist who made quite an impression on those who knew her.

We thought there would be no better way to honor Marillia’s life than to ask some of her EEWC friends to share their memories.   We hope you’ll share your own by leaving a comment.

Marg Herder shares her thoughts on Marillia’s life here, on the Where She Is blog.

Sharon Bowes and Becky Bender remembered Marillia by making contributions in her name to the general EEWC-CFT fund.  To make a contribution click here.

 

Sharon Bowes

Former EEWC Office Manager Sharon Bowes notified EEWC’s online community of Marillia’s death with these words:

Our long-time member and dear friend, Marillia Hinds has died.  She would have been ninety-three in July. She lived her long life well, but the last time I was with her I knew she was ready to move on to a peaceful, pain-free world.  Her daughter told me that Marillia requested there be no service, and she is honoring that request.

Marillia Hinds was a woman ahead of her time.  I remember her telling about injustices she became aware of through her reading, which prompted her to write to the CEO of the company or organization to share her opinion of the unfairness.  Sometimes she would receive a response.  I’d love to see her file of letters.  Such a strong woman, who cared deeply about women’s rights. 

When I visited her, though my plan was to be there just an hour or so, three hours later we still were not finished talking family, politics, the changing world, etc. 

Marillia, such a humble, supportive, caring woman—what wonderful memories you leave to those of us who have been touched by your life. 

 

 

Elizabeth Bowman

Marillia Hinds, one of  Indiana EWC’s* founding mothers, lived in southern Indianapolis.  She was an incredible woman, a fearless feminist, a natural humorist, and an all-around delightful human being. I really missed her after she became too old and infirm to come to our Indiana chapter meetings. She always livened up any gathering and kept us laughing constantly while making us think hard about gender equality. Marillia had worked as a bookkeeper much of her adult life and had some really amazing stories of workplace sexism from the 1940s through 1960s.  She was brilliant, read everything, and never missed noticing that she and women co-workers were paid more poorly than less knowledgeable or productive male workers who were promoted over the women.

I remember her coming to Indiana EWC chapter meetings and reading us letters she’d written on her old manual typewriter to presidents of large companies in which she owned small amounts of stock. She’d research the number of women on their boards of directors; if there were none, or few, she’d write to the presidents, saying she was a stockholder and wanted to know why there were not more women on their board. She’d let them know that she expected to see more representation by women on company boards in the future. I suspect she sometimes purchased small amounts of stock in male-dominated companies for the specific purpose of writing to leadership as a stockholder.  I, a physician on a medical school faculty, was sometimes astounded at her boldness in dressing down corporate CEOs about the lack of representation of women on their boards of directors. Some of them even answered her! We heard those letters, too.  I learned a lot from her about speaking truth to power. She thought she was nothing and idealized me as a member of a medical school faculty, but I was in awe of her.

Marillia disliked telephone communication and loved her old manual typewriter to which she clung long after electric typewriters and computers were available. On that old manual, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she blessed me with letters two to four times yearly. They are full of “Marillia-isms.” She sometimes began these letters with “Dear Elizabeth-the-New-Woman, I Hope.”  She really had a way with words.[Ed. Note – select the “Marillia’s Letters” tab above to see excerpts]

Like so many women of her era, Marillia struggled with a socialized discomfort with being praised.  When complimented, she often turned red, made devaluing remarks about herself and minimized her achievements and abilities.  I’m not surprised that she did not want a memorial service. She’d have been mortified to be the center of all that attention, even after death.  If there are manual typewriters in the afterlife, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a letter from her telling us to cut it out with all the remembrances! What a woman!  I’ll remember her forever.

* EEWC-CFT  was originally known as EWC —  Evangelical Women’s Caucus. We carried that name  during the years when Marillia was most active in the Indiana Chapter and nationally. In 1990, we added “Ecumenical” to become EEWC.

 

Juanita Wright PotterI’ve finally thought of what I would like to say about the truly amazing woman, Marillia Hinds.

I have found her obituary, which gives me evidence that I didn’t just dream this happened.

I’m really saddened at the news of her death – even though I have not seen her for quite a few years; our letters dwindled as e-mail (and now Facebook) took over my writing life, and she stayed with her typewriter.

And my, did she have a prolific, tempered typewriter with a mission! Somewhere in this house (stacked with papers and books) are letters I received from Marillia back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when we were both more active in EEWC-related work.  They would always be full of challenging thoughts, funny insights, amazing grace.

She loved writing Letters to the Editor to the newspapers – especially on matters of women’s rights.

She spoke clearly, succinctly, with wise wit – whether with her voice or her typewriter.

She is one of the most precious gifts I received from my time with EEWC.

She was a feminist par excellence.

However, one of my most poignant memories – and it may well have been the last time I had a long conversation with her – was when she and I got together with Becky Bender at Becky’s home in Indianapolis . . . I think this was maybe the spring/summer of 1996 or 1997.  I’m thinking 1997 – because one of the topics of conversation that came up was the challenge of figuring out how to go on with one’s life after one’s partner-in-life suddenly dies. Both Marillia and Becky had experienced this trauma;  I had not . . . .  yet. And I remember thinking to myself at the time – “I’m sitting here feeling guilty about being happy that I have nothing to say on this subject; I am not a member of this tribe called “widow”  . . . ”

Not too many months later . . . when my husband died suddenly, after falling on his way home from work . . .Marillia and Becky were two people who I turned to, because I had already heard their wise words preparing me, in a way, for this beyond-horrible turn of events.

And then this morning, I read this:

“All I know is that
things have happened that I don’t understand
that feel like the most important things
that have ever happened to me.

… The unendurable happens.
People we love die;
we’re going to die—
one day we are going to have to leave our children,
leave the plants, the sunlight,
the rain and all that.
It’s unendurable.

Art knows that
we’re both living and dying
at the same time.
It can hold it.

I thought, I can either let this crack my heart
open or closed.
I turned around and the
billion other people on this earth who’ve
lost a person they love—there they all were.
I turned around: I just joined you.

Welcome. There were millions of people;
I was glad to be with them.
We join each other;
We’re not alone.

Holding human stories up:
it’s so miraculous.

Everything is shared.”

—Marie Howe

I especially thought of Marillia when I read the words:

“I turned around; I just joined you.”

And heard her say:  “Welcome.”

Indeed, “Everything is shared.”

[Ed. Note – The poem above features the words spoken by renowned poet Marie Howe, in an interview presented by On Being.  An anonymous source arranged the words into a poem and posted it on the internet.  Used by permission.   View the entire poem here

 

Liz Bowman was kind enough to send us a few personal letters Marillia wrote to her in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  We wanted to share excerpts from some of these letters, because they are a good example of what feminist women were talking and thinking about during that time, and a good example of the things Marillia thought and cared about.

blueline

October 1, 1988

Dear Elizabeth-The-New-Woman-I-Hope:

Have I told you that this is my name for you? Probably. I do so hope that the New Women will be like you. I call Sharon: “Sharon-She-Knows-The-Score-Bowes.”

Thank you for sending “9.5 Feminist Theses.” To think that this was written in 1972. I agree that 9.5 should be in our next newsletter. It should also be nailed on the door of all churches. I’m enclosing copies with letters. [Ed. Note – Click here to read].

I wandered down the biography aisle at the Southport library two weeks ago, I began to think of Margaret Sanger. There was not a book about her. Damn. The woman who has done the most for women. The librarian found an autobiography published in 1938 and a biography published in 1979 at Central [Library].

I smiled when Margaret wrote, “Be like Vashti not like Esther.” Something that I hadn’t remembered was that in the early part of the century: abortion was more acceptable than birth control. Archbishop Hayes of New York proclaimed that abortion was sinful but birth control was satanic. Another fine gentleman in Europe commented, “We will not surrender population control to women; with abortion we are in control.” It would be nice if the autobiography was reprinted; the men of God are still saying what they said 75 years ago, especially those in the Catholic Church.

blueline

November 17, 1988

Elizabeth:

Thanks for your November 2nd letter. You type so well you can always get a job.

Iris Yob’s book is The Church and Feminism, published by Winsen Publications, 2735 S. Penn, Englewood, CO. 80110, I have ordered a copy and will be glad to share it with you.

I have asked Iris if she will talk to us about the Adventists and Australia. When she mentioned McGill College at our September meeting, you may recall that I immediately associated that school with murder. The central characters in the book Evil Angels were from McGill. Iris knew them well. The book has been made into a movie with Meryl Steep, Cry In The Dark.  One of the great witch hunts of the 20th century. A mother is convicted of murdering her baby, though she is innocent.

Talked to Becky tonight and she said we were meeting at Kay’s on the 29th about the NOW meeting. I have belonged to NOW for years but never attended a meeting, though I was in one of their 10-week consciousness-raising programs. Mostly I bitched about the church.

You have 6 speaking engagements? My first reaction was what a burden that would be. But on second thought, I’m so glad that you have the opportunity to spread the word that women are people. Bear up!

blueline

October 10, 1990

Dear Elizabeth The New Woman I Hope:

Thank you so much for calling. It was good news to hear that you now have a working schedule that permits you to think of Elizabeth sometimes, and that you are speaking before people who, I imagine, suffer culture shock at the sight and sound of a young, intelligent psychiatrist.  Hooray for Elizabeth.

The EWC Conference was a highlight of 1990. Meeting old friends. Meeting new friends–two from Canada. I’m corresponding with Diane Strong in Kingston. Sent you some material from her. Met Mary Henley and Melanie Fields from Anderson. Sent then invitations to the WIT meeting. Happy to see them there. Sent them reading lists and a book. After participating (that’s the right word; we didn’t just sit there and listen) in the EWC Sunday morning services by Rev. Karen Berns, Mary remarked “How can I return to my church after this?”

I suppose you noticed that AT&T is no longer giving Planned Parenthood $50,000 a year. A resolution was presented, and passed handily, at the annual meeting to discontinue this gift–a mere .001384% of the $30,426,888 that the company disburses to such worthy causes as meetings for diplomats, strategic studies, jazz organizations, volunteer lawyers for the arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance festival, Spoleto Festival, etc. The irony is that the resolution was presented by a woman; or more correctly, by a man who spoke for her. I presume that she has learned in church that she is not to speak. Looking at it positively, surely there are 1000 women in the US who can afford to give Planned Parenthood $50 a year, thereby replacing the gap left by AT&T. Perhaps the fundamentalist and Catholic churches threatened to switch to Sprint.

blueline

November 9, 1990

Dear Elizabeth:

Have you heard the quote from Barbara Walters: “You can have a great career and a great marriage, a great marriage and great kids, a great career and great kids, but you can’t have all three”?

I was pleased that Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas which had its first female governor in 1924. Miriam Wallace (Ma) Ferguson, mother of one daughter, campaigned with the slogan “Me for Ma” and was elected, though by law her husband was entitled to her salary.

blueline

July 7, 1991

Dear Elizabeth:

I was pleased to read that Flo Kennedy said “We’re going to Bork him” about Clarence Thomas. Flo Kennedy–bigger than life, radical, big mouth, civil rights lawyer forever. It is interesting that Kennedy is black but that she has aligned herself by sex and not race.

I looked at my name in UPDATE thinking what an odd name that was with all those l’s, i’s, and a’s before it dawned on me that it was my name.

The perception of age in women is very restrictive. perhaps I should say men’s perception of age in women. After all, most of what I have read has been written by men.

For instance:

“He seduced the Italian opera singer who at 35 was slightly past her prime.” By an Englishman.

“At 35 she was a little long in the tooth.” By a South Carolina Southern Baptist gentleman writing about Diane Fosse.

“If she’s 35 and a virgin, there’s nothing to do but shoot her.” By American troops during World War II as they approached a castle in Germany where a princess lived. I read this about 41 years ago.

35 is definitely the cut-off age for women.

But, hear this: “He is a boyish 42.” He is a youthful 54.” – Men describing men.

And women feel constrained to confess their age. Margaret Thatcher said on the David Frost show “I was born in 1925.” Isabel Allende stated that she is 48 in a recent interview about her books which are described as man-bashing, but which she says are about justice.

I’m 70.

blueline1

April 28, 1992

But you know the media persist… in presenting “scientific” articles about mothers endangering their health and that of their children by working outside the home. It is all so confusing for the weaker sex. On the one hand we are told that our health and that of our children will suffer if we have a pay check. On the other hand, our husbands insist that we work, or it may be necessary that we work because our husbands do not work or cannot be found.

I have difficulty with some of the statistics in Rosenfeld’s articles “In 1940, one-quarter of women worked. In 1940, 9% of married women worked.” Most of the women that I knew in 1940 worked if they could get a job. And it seemed to me when I was growing up in the 20’s and 30’s that all mothers worked. Maybe that was because my best friends’ mothers worked.

To my disgust I have run across another reference to Dr. Edward Strecker. This time in May Ms. He was psychiatric consultant to the U.S. armed forces in the WWII period and wrote Their Mothers’ Sons, enlightening the nation that “Mom was crippling her sons so that the very breath of democracy was nearly stilled.”

The good doctor had endeared himself to me years ago with “the great American Mom–a juggernaut whose toll of crippled lives is greater than all our wounded in the world wars.” Who is competent to raise the children?

[Ed. Note – interesting paper discussing Dr. Edward Strecker’s theory can be found here]

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