“When a girl was born in 1910, her mother sighed…”
Women’s History Month kicks off today, so we’re highlighting a former Angeleno who was once hailed as “a living symbol of the new Chinese woman”: journalist Betty Wang, who arrived in L.A. in 1934 to study at USC.
You might think 2000 was ancient – think “Oops! … I Did It Again” and clunky CD players – but try going eight decades back.
Chinese women were once “something to be owned” – first by her parents, then her husband, Wang wrote in an article published in 1934 in the L.A. Times.
“Tradition bound our feet. Home was our world. We had a dozen men to rule us.”
And what did Chinese women do, other than homemaking? “She tottered around, embroidered, read poems if she was educated, and sat.”
So it’s easy to see how Betty was a symbol of modernity in 1934. She majored in sociology and graduated from the University of Shanghai. Then she worked as a reporter for the China Press in Shanghai before coming to Los Angeles to study at USC.
“Now, the world is our home. Thank god – for your Western World. Chinese women have changed.”
Sure, there’s still progress to be made – in California, women make 84 cents for every man’s dollar – but women have made amazing strides toward equality since then. Women are CEOs. Women lead countries. Women head school districts, create businesses and spearhead humanitarian efforts around the world. Next year, a woman might even become the next president of the United
SP 4412 GS-2 Daylight, SLO-Horseshoe Curve July 4th, 1937
The curve near Cuesta has just been reballasted. As the new Daylight tried to round the upgrade curve the locomotive drivers could not gain traction. Finally a 2-10-2 was called out from San Luis Obispo to add a little tractive effort.
When members of Southern California’s German community chose to name a
park for Hindenburg after his death in 1934, they had many famous
Germans to choose from — Beethoven the composer; Goethe the poet; or
even Remarque, the bestselling author of the pacifist novel “All Quiet
on the Western Front.” Instead, they chose a militaristic authoritarian
who aimed to restore “German greatness.” These were the same values held
by the pro-Nazi Bund movement, America’s own anti-Semitic fascist
movement that rose in the 1930s — including here in Southern California.
It was no coincidence that the Bund held rallies at Hindenburg Park in
The decision to name the park after Hindenburg was
as misguided back in the 1930s as it is today. Yes, it was a product of
its time, but the 1930s were problematic times, when a tendency to be
swept away by pageantry, rallies and calls to restore national greatness
led ordinary people to ignore the dangers of racial bigotry.
Americans were not the only ones swept away by these attitudes. As an
undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the early 1990s, I stumbled across a
collection of old Cal yearbooks in the library and pulled the 1936
volume off the shelf. Its pages were full of swastikas celebrating the
new and exciting movement in Nazi Germany, host of the Olympic games
that year. Racial exclusion, moreover, was not the monopoly of Nazi
Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Californians too lived in a world of
anti-Semitism, restrictive racial covenants and redlining. While
Americans fought bravely to defeat Nazi Germany, we cannot forget that
Southern California has a long history of racism whose legacies persist
SP 9346 with Amtrak Train 5, the San Francisco Zephyr, coming into Colfax, CA. Shot from HWY 174 bridge. The dirt road in the lower right is the ROW of the Nevada Co. Narrow Guage, in August 1980 by Marty Bernard Via Flickr: A Roger Puta Photograph
2 Amtraks Coming Off Donner the Same Sunday – 2 Photos by Marty Bernard Via Flickr: These are Roger Puta’s taken at Yuba Pass, CA in March 1980. This is SP 9157 with Amtrak Train 5, the San Francisco Zephyr, just before the train got Superliners and still sometime before the train got back its real name, California Zephyr.