Monday, March 1, 2010

Women's History Month

As we begin Women's History Month I wish to honor my mother. She was born Manuela Villa, in El Paso, Texas. From about 1915 through the early 1940s she lived in Pueblo, Colorado. For 40 years she lived in East L.A.; her last years were spent between Pasadena and Eagle Rock, California.

During her lifetime she was known as Manuelita, Aunt Nell, Nina, Nellie, Mrs. Martinez, Hon, Mom, and 'Uela.

She was my model for many things, but today I recall her role as a historian.

She had no degree in history, she wrote no articles, she had no blog, but she shared history every day. And it was a history that was meaningful to her so it often became truly meaningful to the listener. In her daily conversations she shared her life and the experiences of those she knew and loved as well as those she knew and definitely didn't love. In her tales she shared stories of men and women, of young and old, of English and Spanish speakers. If there was a good story in the mix, it was shared.

As a child I found her sharing annoying, as a young woman I was intrigued by how her tales fit into a larger history, as a mature woman who loves history, I wonder at the clarity of her memory.

I hope as we begin this month focused on Women's History, we review the stories of other women's lives and accomplishments, within the circle of our family and friends, local women and those active in our field of work. And I hope we make a point of including them in our conversations and stories. You never know what may come of that sharing.


  1. How nice of you to honor your mother. I had the same reaction to my mother's family stories when I was a child. I'm so thankful that I paid attention years later and found the stories valuable. I regret I never did an oral history with her.

    God bless all our mommies in Heaven!

  2. Amen, Ann. You know, with your gift with words you could still write her history. I'm sure your children and other family members would enjoy it.

  3. A wonderful post, and what a beautiful photo!

  4. Thanks. As I recall the picture dates to her first being in the Los Angeles area. Funny how things come 'round. What we now call a 'bump', she called a 'rat'. Her very full hair had significant support.