It's Women's History Month - My Aunt, the First Woman to Hold a Man's Job, among other Firsts!
I was raised by a very strong, Christian woman who was a success in all areas of her life, I have written about her on Mother's Day. I also was influenced by four other women who all had a long-lasting affect on me. My maternal grandmother, and mom's three sisters. From the time I was born until we moved from Roswell to Clovis, NM in 1971, my family, my grandparents and my uncle, and each of the other 3 "girls" families saw each other several times a week, after that as often as possible, we were a very close family.
As usual when there are multiple siblings, there was one sister who made her mark not only on the lives of those around her but made the newspapers with all her "escapades"! My aunt Joyce Lee Booth Ramsey Kirk, or as we call her Joycie. Joycie was the middle child of the 5 kids, just a few years younger than my mom. My mom always used to tell us when she was a child, she thought the song they sang at church , "Won't It Be Wonderful There" contained the lyrics "Joyce Lee singing, with heart bells all ringing" instead of "Joyously singing". I always think about that every time I hear the song now. Being mentioned in a song wasn't that far-fetched, Joycie loved to perform, usually it was a skit she had performed in a talent show in a skit entitled "Herman, My Lion" where she was a toddler chewing gum, she was a natural performer! And she won FIRST PLACE in the whole school!
Joycie married Leon Ramsey in December, 1958. Leon was originally from West Virginia and moved to Roswell due to his health. Leon was a member of the Morning Optimists Club Board of Directors, was the secretary of the First Church of the Nazarene and owned Rapid Printing Co.
Joycie worked at the printing company when she wasn''t working full-time for Mountain Bell Telephone.
Leon was in very poor health due to having emphysema (he was a non-smoker) and was in and out of the hospital. The whole family pitched in and helped Leon & Joycie during his hospitalization by either staying with them at the hospital or going to work at the printing company after getting off work from their own jobs. Leon passed in August of 1967. Joycie sold Rapid Printing and continued working at Mountain Bell Telephone.
Front Page News!
In December 1972, she made history by becoming the first woman to hold a historically man-held job of Frameman in Mountain Bell history. They didn't change it to Framewomen either! She made the front page of the Roswell Daily Record on December 10, 1972, with 2 pictures! That was a milestone, in those days women were usually only holding office jobs earning office job pay. I don't really remember how the family reacted, but I think it was one of shock. Correct me if I'm wrong!
First of the Family in Hot Pants & GoGo Boots!
Joycie went on to other firsts, not just in her work, put in her days off. Joycie inherited her love of cars from her father. So she started attending and working at the "drag races" that were held at the old Roswell airport. The family was shocked when the following picture and article appeared on page 17 of the June 15;, 1973 Roswell Daily Record under the caption "Dragway action is near". Here stood Joycie in her hot pants and gogo boots and more hair on her head than shorts on her body! The only thing I remember about the families reaction was the shock and that they were grateful it wasn't front page news.
An Honor, Particpation on a Panel of 6 Women!
Joycie was featured in another article in the Roswell Daily Record on May 1, 1974, page 6. Caption: "CWU sets special observance Friday". CWU stood for Church Women United and was associated with the First Christian Church in Roswell. Joycie and five other women representing six different occupations who were usually held by men made up a panel and were interviewed regarding their occupational choices. She represented Mountain Bell and was titled "the first woman to fill a former man's job", one was a physician, one a hospital administrator, one a psychologist, there was a counselor and one training to become a mechanic. It's hard today imagining any of those jobs only held by men, but in 1974 it was rare.
Women's Lib may have started in the 1960s, but it was slow getting to some places. Joycie was among the first of the women's libbers in Roswell and definitely in the family. She was famous for saying "No Man is Going to Tell Me What to Do!", along with being passionate about "The South Will Rise Again!"
I am very proud of Aunt Joycie, no woman had her passion or was as fearless as she was about anything. She lived by her own rules and morals, come what may. Joycie had a lot of sorrows and pain in her life but she lived her way.
Joycie is now suffering from Alzheimer's and lives in an assisted living center in Roswell. I'm sure she is creating as much drama as always, and I hope she still remembers and performs the talent show skit she did as a child. More importantly I hope she remembers me!
(For a copy of each article, click on the down arrow under each article and save to your computer)
My name is Vicky, and after researching my family history since 1999, I have found amazing stories that need to be told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!