planpdx.org: Remarks by Sally Landauer
These remarks were made at a gathering organized by David Bragdon and friends called: Insurgents and Convergence. It was held at the Clinton Street Theater on June 14, 1994 to celebrate 25 years since June 14, 1969 and the early years of the Goldschmidt era.
That is precisely how Vera and I got into politics. We lived next door to each other. We were not in the 40 percent of women who worked outside the home in those days. We had small children and like most women who could afford to, we stayed home with the children. We learned to upholster; we made our own drapes; we wallpapered our apartments. We made our own clothes from patterns from Vogue. We were very proud of that. And we still are. We cooked gourmet meals. Our husbands had never eaten so well. We shared the gourmet meals that we cooked so that each night Mel and Bob came home to something delicious and different, cooked by each of us. It was wonderful. And we really and truly did (to each other) say that this is ridiculous, that this is the stupidest thing we have ever done--stripping wax off a rented floor. Let's do something else.
So she went to work for the Bobby Kennedy campaign and I went to work on the Eugene McCarthy campaign. (We couldn't do everything together!) She had her hopes dashed on June 5 of that year. (Was it June 6?) I had my hopes dashed when Gene McCarthy came to town (after I had spent months working on his campaign) I sat up in the Ballroom of I think the Hilton and he spoke. And I realized while I was sitting on the floor gazing up at the man to whom I had devoted the last 6 months of my life that he was an English professor, not a President... a very, very upsetting experience. So that's how we launched ourselves into politics. And I still say that is one of the best ways to meet people and one of the best ways to volunteer is politics. Politics is a great way to meet like-minded people. You get to reaffirm all of your prejudices by working with people who believe exactly the way you do. And you never have to change. It's really very nice, very secure and very reassuring.
So we spent the Summer sort of trying to find a new role, and of course discovered a wonderful person, Wayne Morse. He was then being challenged by Bob Packwood. Little did we know then. So we worked on the Morse campaign. And the next year Neil decided to run for the City Council. He came to Vera and me and asked us to work on his campaign. We happily said yes, and there we were totally involved in another campaign.
The next sort of significant thing that happened was the day after that election when the women who had worked on the Goldschmidt campaign met the women who had worked on the Walsh campaign. We met in order to console the Walsh workers and they met to congratulate us. And we met because we thought we would probably like each other because we had all worked on politics and for similar candidates. We met for lunch on a Wednesday; decided we liked each other;' and decided we should keep doing this. So for the next couple of years we met, as I recall, maybe every other Wednesday. We called ourselves the Wednesday Winos. We had our children, and we sat around, typically all afternoon, drinking wine, watching the children play and run around, and talked politics. Finally one day somebody (and I don't remember who it was, but it was probably Margo Perry) said, why don't we do something? Let's see what we can do about the City Club?
The City Club did not have any women members. The City Club had a tremendous influence in those days. It was the only think tank in town. It was the only sort of bastion of credibility (really) in town, in the city. At least that's the way I remember it. And so we decided that we should do something about that. And what was really fun was to picket it. So the Wednesday Winos became POW (Politically Oriented Women) or, as some of the men in the City Club called it, Penis Oriented Women. We picketed the City Club for at least two years. Every Friday we marched around the front of the Benson Hotel (the Hotel did not appreciate it!). That was where the City Club met even then. We carried our signs. We marched. We tried to interfere with the speakers. And we booed Sidney Lezak when he walked in because he was the great Liberal and he was still a member of the City Club, and he resigned. And we exerted pressure.
Then we decided that this was kind of fun for Friday, but what else can we do?
Perkins Pub. Ever heard of Perkins Pub? It was a men's-only restaurant in the old Lipman Wolf department store. So we decided we would go and sit in. They called the cops. They very quickly either went out of business or decided to let women in. I don't remember which happened first--it wasn't such a burning issue to us, but the City Club was. Eventually, of course, the City Club voted to admit women members.
In the meantime, Neil ran for Mayor. Vera Katz decided that she could run for the legislature. And I ran her campaigns.
All of this came from politics; all of it came from volunteering on our first campaigns; all of it came from a sense of (a) we can do something and (b) women can do something. We grew very quickly to positions of responsibility on campaigns because we had the leisure time and we were... we knew how to untie knots. And men don't know how to untie knots, women do. This is a sexist discussion, but it's true. Women were willing to put in the time and the hours. They were willing to do the scut work because women had always done the scut work in campaigns. Had. And we were appreciated by the men who ran those campaigns. It was a huge step forward in 1970.
And that's about all I have to say.