Dorothy Putnam was born in Massachusetts in 1895. As a young woman, Putnam moved to Los Angeles, where she developed an interest in automobiles. In 1918, she became the first licensed female chauffeur in California, her clients including Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. She also won a number of driving contests in L.A. during the 1920s.
In the 1930s Dorothy met her lifelong partner Lois Mercer. They both served in the Air Force during WW2 and moved into a Los Angeles apartment together after the war. Louis became a bookkeeper and Dorothy started working for the LA Sheriff’s Department. They stayed together for the rest of their lives.
Louis died in 1989 at the age of 94, Dorothy less than two years later at the age of 95. They were together for over 50 years.
There were two women that lived together in our town, and they were accepted by the community. Mom said, “Well, one of them’s got to be the man.” So I realized as a kid that women did that, but there weren’t any men that I knew of. There were two guys, two miles from us, that lived together for years and died together, but as a kid I just passed that off. When Dad needed help at harvest time he told me to go get them, because they didn’t have a car. Everybody said they were brothers, but they didn’t have the same last name.
I’m reading a book called Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest, and this man was born in 1937, so the time period he’s talking about re: his childhood is, at most, the mid 1940s - early 50s. I found this paragraph pretty interesting because it shows that for some people, it wasn’t all death and heartbreak and misery. Some gay women and men were able to live peaceful lives until the end of their days with their partners, even back then, even in a supposedly intolerant environment. It wasn’t always Brokeback Mountain.
I realize now how very short life is, because I’ve got to be considered
to be in the home stretch. But I won’t waste time on recriminations and
regrets. And the same goes for my shortcomings and my own failures.
Eldred Gregory Peck (April 5th, 1916 - June 12th, 2003)
“Oh, what the hell did I know? I went to the set the first day in full makeup and the director told me to take it off. So I did the film without makeup. I had nothing to do with anything I did. I never understood why I was so famous.”