Women Leaders and Activists
Experiences of Women Leaders and Activists as told by CGCC Students in partnership with Chandler Museum's Public History Program
Describe your family background.

Narrator: Nancy Marion
Interviewer: Ashley Kearn

AK: What is the name of your mother?
NM: My mom's name was Wanda. Actually, her entire name was Mary Wanda Jean Cook; then she married my dad and went to Wanda Watson. So she shortened it considerably.

AK: And where was she from?
NM: She's from Texas. Actually, she was born in California but was raised most of her life in Texas. Then, after they [my parents] married, they moved to Idaho which is where I was born.

AK: Did she work outside the home?
NM: My parents were from the generation that moms stayed at home and so, this sounds kind of sexist, but my mom was not allowed to find employment outside of the home until the children were at an age where we no longer needed her every day. Basically when my youngest sibling got to high school she went out and started working for the school district and worked there for twenty-five years.

AK: What did she do?
NM: She was a lunch lady.

AK: Oh, really? Did she enjoy it?
NM: She did. She loved being with kids. My entire family has always had a passion for kids, so it worked out wonderfully for her.

AK: How did your parents meet?
NM: They were family friends and, very typical, just got to know each other, fell in love and got married.

AK: So they got to fall in love? It wasn't arranged?
NM: Well, we're not my father's first family because before I came along, before my mom came along, my dad was married to a Caucasian lady and, in those times, as my dad was born in 1904 and was a Native American, Caucasian women did not marry Native American men; that was a "substandard." Really, it was discrimination at its finest and their marriage was annulled because of the ethnicity issue. So he met and married my mom and moved to Idaho where it was a little more laid back and you didn't have to deal with those kinds of things. You could just be you and not have to worry about what your ethnicity was.

Narrator: Frances Pickett
Interviewer: Elias Ewert

EE: What is the name of your father?
FP: Charles M. Brandon.

EE: Where was he from?
FP: He was born in Georgia.

EE: What is the name of your mother?
FP: My mother is Lalier Cawthon Brandon.

EE: Where was she from?
FP: My mother was born in Tennessee.

EE: How did your parents meet, and when did they get married?
FP: They met in Oklahoma. They only saw each other 3 times before they got married. Her uncle had a store in Oklahoma and she was visiting him when she met my father. And 2 years after they were married he had to go off to war. On his return home... they came to Arizona because of the price of cotton and the boweavels were eating all the crop in Oklahoma.

EE: When were you born?
FP: I was born in 1927 in this old house that was pulled up then. My father was farming the ground for Mr. Duncan, since he collected the house. He lived in Phoenix and he didn't have any money to farm, so he asked my father if he would farm the ground for him. My father went to farming the ground and eventually he bought half of this ground from him in years later, but this house was pulled up at where the well was and that's where my father and mother lived for 2 years. I was born in that old house, and it was first a mule skinner shack, then it was the first school... Later on it was turned into a barn. The old house had a big long history to it.

Narrator: Kathy McAvoy
Interviewer: John Flores

JF: And you grew up in Cleveland?
KM: Yes...I grew up in Cleveland.

JF: I've never been to Cleveland... if you could maybe describe the city or town where you grew up; what was it like?
KM: Cleveland is a depressing place. It is a place where the skies are partly cloudy every day. And in Cleveland, partly cloudy means that there is no sunshine showing. Here partly cloudy means partly sunny, as far as I'm concerned, but the skies are very gray and that's also the color I'd paint the whole city. It's a blue-collar town... it's an industrial town. It has a significant amount of poverty. I think that there was a lot of urban flight. So the suburbs grew up around Cleveland and it's unfortunate because Cleveland is on a lake and I think it could have been something quite beautiful and vital, but it's not.

Narrator: Mary Tucker
Interviewer: Cara O'Dowd

CO: What was it like when you were growing up?
MT: Well it was in the 1940s and 1950s; it was a very conformist time. While my mother in particular was progressive, I never heard about abortion for sure…but you believed in your government. It was a very conformist time, just after WWII. We believed and trusted in our government. I was born and raised pretty much a 50s existence, and it wasn't until the Watergate scandal and the Pentagon Papers that I started to question my government.

Photos courtesy of the families.

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Frances Pickett and family