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Posts Tagged ‘portrait of Frances Perkins’

perkins2There is nothing witty or catchy you can say about Frances Perkins.  She was everyone’s grandmother in her felt hat, black coat, black strap purse, sensible shoes, and no makeup.  Who fully knew that she was the social conscience of FDR, that without her he would not have had enough of a domestic program to call “A Little Deal” let alone The New Deal?  Unfortunately for her it was a time of straight white chauvinist domination in everything, so her contributions were belittled or claimed by others.  She birthed, nurtured, and toilet trained what we consider the domestic achievements of the era, a better and more secure working career and retirement for the average American.

Kirstin Downey has written The Woman Behind The New Deal: The Life Of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary Of Labor And His Moral Conscience, a biography that makes you wonder how we ever achieve anything in Washington given whom we normally appoint and elect in office.  FDR, bless his political soul, knew he had a classy jumper in her even if he treated her like a wagon mule.  So if you want to know how a woman can make it in New York politics, then move on to become a historic cabinet secretary in Washington, read this book.

I did not get the feeling she was the most likable person in any room but she had many loyal friends and associates although they never matched the mass of her detractors.  Added to that imbalance she was burdened with a mentally unstable husband as well as a disfunctional and unstable daughter.  She when she found a friend she kept them if at all possible.  If you read the book you will agree that she deserves more than a postage stamp, a federal building, or the fledgling Frances Perkins Center at The Brick House, her ancestral homestead in Newcastle ME.  I say put her face on our Social Security checks.

For more information about the Center and its future, go to www.francesperkinscenter.org/  If you have Perkins ephemera this is the perfect place to receive it before you or your heirs lose  or scatter it.  They will also not decline a cash donation.  Charles Marlin

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