Celebrating 50 years in the beautiful state of Arizona


On October 1st, 1972, our family pulled up in front of a rental house in the small town of Prescott, Arizona. This was a big deal for a 16-year-old me. Such bad timing…I had left all of my friends in Syracuse, New York; the friends I planned on graduating with the next May.

My new book, Uprooted: A New Life in the Arizona Sun, is about that tumultuous time and much more, including how I found my way into the life of a wildland firefighter. For any of you that are interested, it’s widely available online and locally. But today I just wanted to share some photos from back then.

Thank you, my friends, for taking a look!

Me, Horatio, my sister Cindy Easter Sunday 1959 Syracuse, NY

My sister Cindy, Me, my sister Elaine 1963 Syracuse, NY

Our home in Syracuse, NY

Me at the age of 14, Chittnango Falls, NY

Our new home in Prescott, AZ under construction 1973

My Dad and Me, Prescott, AZ 1975

Me in my firefighting clothes, Prescott, AZ 1977




A chat with Writer Advice


 Please join me on B. Lynn Goodwin's Writer Advice website where she asks me some great questions about my new memoir, Uprooted: A New Life in the Arizona Sun, including the challenges many memoir writers face: finding a publisher, how to deal with real people in the book, and more!

Authors over 50 podcast




Come join me where Julia Daily and I talk about how I ended up writing a book about my career as a wildland firefighter. Listen on Apple, Spotify, YouTube and Google, or on YouTube.

"You've Come a Long Way Baby" or maybe not...


The other day I found a TV channel that plays reruns of the 1960s game show, Password. The host, Allen Lundt, asked the first contestant, a man, "So what do you do for a living?"

The man replied, "I'm an executive in a major marketing company."

Mr. Lundt said, "That's very impressive!"

The host turned to the other contestant, a woman, and said, "So what does your husband do for a living?"

The woman’s jaw drops. Then she speaks in a voice that is barely audible.

I have no memory of what she said because I was still processing the unbelievably chauvinistic question. True, this is the 1960s, so for the host to assume the woman did not work outside of the home is probably not out of line, but still. It was pretty rude.

While on the topic of the 60s, I also recently saw a reference to the 1968 Virginia Slims cigarette slogan: “You've Come a Long Way, Baby.” This struck me as rather timely. How far have women come? At least in 1968 we came as far to have an equal opportunity to get lung cancer.

Dry humor aside, many people do not realize how late women landed the rights women now have. If you’re thinking late 1800s to early 1900s, think again. While some progress was made in the late 1960s, it would take another decade for significant changes.


At the age of 18 in the early 1970s, I blamed the lack of job opportunities more on my age and my having only a high school education than anything else. I didn’t know I would enter a man’s world when I accepted a wildland firefighting job with the U.S. Forest Service in 1976. The words discrimination or sexual harassment were not even in my vocabulary—at least not at first. That summer, one crewmate told me that women belonged barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Another told me women were weak and helpless, and I should quit and go home. And after several years of experience, a supervisor told me I couldn’t work on his fire crew because “he didn’t hire girls.” Those comments didn’t stop me from working six additional summers, though.

While working on my memoir, Summers of Fire, and later the prequel, Uprooted, I decided to take a look at women in the 1970s. It’s not as though I lived under a rock back then. I do remember proudly subscribing to New Woman magazine because I considered myself a new woman not only because I took on a man’s job, but also because I didn’t see any rush to get married and have kids. The editor invited readers to send in a response to the question: “How did you meet your “new” man?” They would publish replies in a later issue. Because I was dating the man I met on my first fire, of course I sent one in. What a thrill to see it in print a few months later. I also remember following abortion rights in women’s magazines, but not diligently.

Some of what I found I already knew, but there were plenty of history making landmarks that I had no idea had been so recent.

Before 1978, employers could legally refuse to hire a pregnant woman. If she wasn’t and later got pregnant, she could have been fired. Even worse, if a woman was simply of child-bearing age when she applied for a job, employers worried about the “risk” that she could get pregnant, and often would not hire her “just in case.”

An unmarried woman could not obtain contraceptives until 1972—despite the fact that “the pill” became available years earlier. Married women had access to this form of contraception, but it was frowned upon unless their menstrual periods were “unusually difficult.” I could find no references as to what constituted unusually difficult periods and who made that decision. No doubt her male physician.

The first state to allow abortion was New York State in 1970, with remaining states not following suit until the monumental court case Roe vs. Wade. The case led to the Supreme Court decision that the Constitution protects a woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without “overly restrictive” government intervention. I won’t get into the recent overturning of that landmark case here. While I think the overturning is appalling and scary, I want to focus on other recently acquired rights.

Credit cards. Did you know that before 1970 a single woman could not obtain a credit and a married woman couldn’t have one without her husband as a cosigner?

When we think of human beings as the property of other human beings, the first thing that comes to mind is slavery, and rightfully so. But did you know that not that long ago, women were considered to be her husband’s “property,” and she had to sacrifice many personal freedoms we now take for granted? How about the right to say “no” if the wife did not want to have sex with her husband. Unbelievably, it took until 1993 before marital rape became a criminal offense.

The Divorce Reform Act, passed in 1969, changed the end of a marriage in a significant way. Divorces could now be based on “irreconcilable differences,” eliminating finger pointing and fault-finding which often resulted in expensive and lengthy divorce litigation. This act initiated the long overdue 50/50 settlement.

Another bias I’d never thought about was jury duty. It took until 1975 for all U.S. states to allow women jurors. Why? Because men thought that women were too frail and emotional to hear detailed testimony surrounding violent crimes.

What about a college degree? Before the late 1960s, if a woman wanted a degree from a prestigious college, she had to set her sights low. No Ivy League colleges allowed women. Harvard skirted around the problem by creating Radcliffe in 1969, but it took 11 more years for all Ivy League colleges to allow women to enroll.

And what about workplace hassles in the 60s and 70s? Not only did women fear losing their job simply because they wanted children, but they either had to put up with sexual harassment or quit. Sadly, many women could not afford to quit, or simply thought it was just part of a normal day at the office. It wasn’t until 1977 that legal recourse against sexual harassment at work finally became available.

As for discrimination in the hiring process? The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Act of 1972 expanded Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to increase protection of minorities and women in both public and private-sector employment. At last, women could not be denied a job just because they were female. Not that it still didn’t happen and still does happen, I’m sad to say. It was hard to prove 40 years ago, and it still is.

And last, but not least, it took until 2013 for women to be allowed into combat duty—a controversial decision to this day.

It’s now 2022. What’s going on? Roe vs. Wade has been rescinded. The wage gap between men and women is sitting at women earning 22% less than men. This discrepancy sure isn’t because of education. Stats show that women do better in college than men. Not only do more women have degrees, but more women advance to obtain graduate and doctorate degrees, and if that’s not enough, they graduate with honors.

Remember that slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby?” Well, apparently women came a long way, and now have taken several huge steps backwards. What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.