It is a bitter,cold winter night in the heart of Minnesota. Smoke curls from the chimney of a white salt box at the top of Alderman Hill. Through the frosted window pane a dark apparition emerges.
Force meeting force; neither cowering. The sharp wind buffets the figure. With dogged determination the form continues forward meeting the challenge. The person does not tuck their head down or cower from the icy fingers. Kicking at the snow and stomping onward. The gait is undeterred and the rigid posture shows anger, but there is a softness as well. Something is sheltered under the coat. It is apparent now that the figure is that of a girl. She is careful to hold what she is sheltering steady. Occasionally whispering as if to calm whatever is tucked safely next to her breast.
Julie Alderman stomped up to the door, cursing the cold as her breath turned to ice on the scarf covering her face. She burst into the warmth of the mud porch stomping the snow off her boots and swearing. " This damn weather's not fit for man nor beast. I hope Bess put the cows in while I was out chasing her dog because I'm not likely to go out there again!" She gently put the miniature collie down on the floor and tried to brush the ice and snow from its coat. Sam escapes and runs around her feet, shaking and barking. "Bess should have had Sam in two hours ago. Just look at her. She's practically frozen."
Far looked over the top of his glasses with brows barely raised and remarked calmly, "Bess is young and she's been reminded of her responsibility. You'd best watch your language and go help your mother."
Julie looked sharply toward her father then thought better of the retort burning on her tongue. She turned and stalked through the hall to the kitchen.
Mon was busy stirring a pot on the stove and looked up with a weary smile. " Thanks for going after Sam, Jules. Bess is up in her room, beside herself with thinking that poor Sam is dead. Would you mind taking Sam up and letting her know that he's ok?" Jules glanced at her mother and felt guilty for getting so worked up. Mon was six months pregnant and didn't need her stopping around growling at her little sister. She turned away and heard mon say, "Go easy on her Jules."
Julie patted her leg and Sam followed her up the narrow steps to Bess's room. She was lying face down on the pillow, sobbing. Julie sat the dog next to her sister and he playfully dug at her hair and tried to lick her face. Bess turned and squealed hugging Sam close. "Oh thank you Jules. You saved him. I thought sure he was out there frozen to death and I would never have forgiven myself for leaving him outside. You're right I don't deserve a pet. I'm too self-centered and awful to have Sam."
Julie realized that she may have been a little too harsh. She had been so steamed when far had sent her out to find the dog that she might have said more that she should have. "It's ok Bess. Sam's fine and he didn't get too far. I shouldn't have yelled at you. I remember when I was seven and forgot to feed my goldfish. His name was Corker and I thought he would die, but....well, sometimes things happen so we can learn from them. I bet you will never forget to bring Sam in again and I never forgot to feed Corker again."
"Oh I won't Jules, I promise. I put the cows in right after you left so you wouldn't have to go back out."
"Thanks Bess. You really are a pretty good kid. Lets go help Mon. She looks really tired."
Julie walked into Whittier Rural High School. She went through the motions, smiling and nudging friends but her mind was already skipping to 3rd. hour. Petitioning to be the first girl allowed to become a member of the all boys F.F.A. organization was all she could think about. Future Farmers of America was going to be a big part of her future and she knew she had to present a convincing argument.
In 1965 F.F.A. merged with New Farmers of America, which was a huge effort for desegregation. The New Farmers were primarily African. The time for women had come and Julie is determined to be a part of it.
She ran over her words in her head, "Women have always been an integral part of farming. The future of farming depends on women as much as men. With the future so uncertain for the young men, who could be called to war at any moment, women need to be informed. We can bring so much to the table with our perspectives first hand, instead of behind the scenes and heard only through the words of our husbands and fathers. I, along with many other young girls and women are prepared to go all the way to Kansas to the National Convention to get our voices heard. I have letters of support from our State Senators to the Governor."
Julie was bumped out of her reverie, "Hi Jules, I just saw Colin and He was sooooo cute. He smiled at me and I couldn't even talk. Are you gonna ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance?"
" I can't think about that now Laura. I'm scheduled to give my speech at the F.F.A. meeting in two hours and I have to be focused. "
"You've got to be kidding." Laura was dumbfounded. "What if someone else asks him? Laura whined. You might not have a date to the dance. If Colin King even looked my way I would die and you can only think about farming?"
"Girl you are certifiable."
"Laura, I know you don't understand but this is more important than a dance. This could shape my future. I might have a chance to make history; to give the women of America a voice in agriculture. I can't think about Colin right now. If he can't wait...well then I guess he just won't be part of my future right now. He knows that this is really important to me."
Laura just shook her head and walked away. " See ya later Jules. Knock'em dead. I know this means a lot to you, I just think you need to be a kid in high school right now."
Julie watched as Laura walked away. She loved her friends but they just didn't understand her passion for the land. She wanted to be a part of the farm community as a independent woman. Sure, she hoped to marry some day but it would be a man who understood that she would be actively involved in the operations of the farm. She wouldn't be just cooking meals and giving him support.
She wanted to get her hands in the daily operations of running the farm and improving production and yields.
"Oh well. I guess they don't have to get me," Julie thought. "I"m not just the nerdy farm girl that thinks she can make a difference. I'm more like Scarlet when her father says, "land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts."
" I will own our farm someday and I will be the one that makes it productive." With those thoughts Julie strides down the polished hall.
Two hours later Julie confidently enters the Industrial Arts classroom. She is armed with the letters of recommendation from the national branch of the F.F.A. and letters of support from the political officials.
"Well, it's now or never," she thinks and puts on her brightest smile and takes her place at the front of the room.
Word count: 1328