Continued from You are not just an average person
Between December 1943 and March 1944 Yry lodged at The Frederick Hotel, room 308, in Huntington, West Virginia. She spent Christmas with her friends Eloise and Jim and their kids. It was a simpler environment; no explanations needed, gentle understanding available, and Eloise, having been through childbirth twice, was like a mother-in-absentia during the challenges and changes of the last trimester of a first pregnancy. Yry still had every intention of returning to Wyoming, where she felt her life’s work was yet to begin.
In her journal, Yry vented energetically in a tirade against the proposed Austin-Wadsworth National War Service Act, a form of Civilian Selective Service, which would have imposed mandatory two-year domestic work assignments for women ages 18-50 and for men 18-65. The theory was to mobilize an untapped workforce, thus freeing up men from critical industry jobs for military service.
To live and work on a ranch, the free and open life and association with living things, the physical exercise which brings joy and satisfaction of mental and spiritual nature has become a necessity to my life. In fact it is the only thing I have to live for; take that from me and there is nothing left to live for. I am now thirty and too old to put off my life work any longer. I do not have the time to fool around with factory or office or any other kind of work so it would be useless for me to volunteer for anything as these city jobs are all immaterial to me…and what dirty politician would take the trouble to help me get to ranch work 2,500 miles out westward from here when ranch work is not even recognized as proper work for a woman. Yes, women can work drills and what not of heavy work in factories but let one try to punch cattle and the laugh is on, though the actual work is no harder.
Put me on my honor and I’ll work; Force me and I’m the mother of rebellion itself. That’s the way I’m made, the pioneer spirit of my ancestors come to light again, maybe. That is probably why I got on so well with westerners, because they still have spunk enough to stand up and fight for their free rights and tell a usurping government where to get off . . .
I was planning for more study at U of W next winter, but of course this bill would upset that entirely since study would not be considered an exemption at my age. Anyway, I’m returning there as soon as my business in NY is completed by hook or crook, even if I have to turn a criminal to be there.
This explains why my mother held Rosie the Riveters in contempt. She considered their contributions trivial.
On Christmas day, Herman wrote a chatty letter informing Yry that since they were still without household help, he and Norah had chosen to dine out for Christmas Eve. They’d encountered a clutch of couples whose robust holiday cheer spurred them to finish their meal without hesitation and to move on to a Christmas service. He ruminated about religion and faith and hoped she’d had a good holiday.
The next letter acknowledged the end of another year, and as always, included some tidbits of Herman-wisdom, encouraging Yry to make the best of life by rendering it useful. “What we so often desire we must learn to renounce!” he chided. And, “we should not hunger after that what we are denied.” A check for $125 was enclosed with the letter.