Monday, May 24, 2010

Babo Beavers

Can you believe this one?

Scene: Mid-1970s. Low. U.S. deep in the throes of a major depression. Losing the Viet Nam 'skirmish' brought the military-industrial complex fueled economy to its knees. Arab sheiks in flowy white floor length dishdasha thobe and red checked shimagh head scarf conspired to stop us dead in our tracks. OPEC oil embargo sent the stock market diving.

The big 3 in Detroit lobbied Congress hard. Big bucks were invested in a developing a spiderweb of interstates criss-crossing the country to the detriment (and subsequent deterioration) of our rails upon which our proud nation expanded west from sea to shining sea. Highway littering now a misdemeanor. Thanks Lady Bird.

Jerry Ford, our illustrious less-than-one-term prez, directed his staffers to design what would soon become a doomed PR ploy. To lift the sagging spirits of a spoiled nation out of the crapper. WIN! Yep. Pom-poms and confetti. A high school pep rally. Whip Inflation Now. Good god. Our intelligences once again insulted. Gheesh.

A handful of intrepid female souls, snuck into the ranks of the all male graduate school bastions. Hadn't Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug ... and a whole slew of bra-burning, birth control pill poppin' women freed us a decade earlier? You bet.

And we were smart. Very. Just couldn't get jobs. The real ones. The ones that bypassed steno pools for those of us who couldn't type a lick and offered a route to the corner office. The glass ceiling looming large. Out to the stratosphere. Too far far away to bump our now coiffed noggins.

So with need-to-get-there-anyway-I-can, applied in person to b-school. Wanted one of those freshly minted MBAs. A fast track to the pay tier that would fund the style to which I was accustomed. What's 78 cents to the dollar of our male counterparts between friends?

Finally, no one would care if we typed 15 words per minute. Or, had zero Dictaphone transcribing speed. Timer be damned. We were arriving. fast. Inductees. Wannabees no longer. Nope. We'd become integral contributing, card carrying member of the club. Floppy ties and man-tailored suits. The skirts were arriving. Look out boardrooms!

Talked myself into Babson's MBA program in leafy, verdant Wellesley Hills. Famed for their sole not-so-winning sports team. Swimming ... the Beavers!

Armed with my college transcripts earned several years earlier at BU I marched confidently into Dean Burak's office. Asked for a coveted place in the MBA class of 1979. Just asked. Brass ones, I tell ya. Hadn't taken the GMATs. Couldn't read the stock quotes in the Wall Street Journal. Or decipher graphs. But hey, the way I figured it this newly co-ed program needed double Xs. Right place at the right time.

I matriculated with Gale and Peggy and Julie and Judy. We banded together. Thick as thieves. Joined study groups. Stuck out like sore thumbs. Beat the guys at their own game. Aced one class after another. Sistahs.

Gale and her dear husband asleep in my guest room. Visiting from their Colorado Rocky Mountain home. Friends for life. Thirty one years post ivy covered halls when computers were the size of my dining room. In and out of high powered, high octane careers. Time off to raise our babies into confident, successful men and women. Picking up almost where we'd leave off. Wiser. Seasoned. Integrity intact. We had it all. Not the huge bank rolls. But the utter contentment that comes with a life well spent. Choices well made.

Here we are. Sitting around a candle lit table assembling fish tacos. We know where we are ... still darling friends ... after a life time of careers, child rearing and arthritic knees. Gale and I share a familiarity born deep in our womanhood. And for that I am deeply grateful.

Cheers to the Babson Beavers ... the ones of us who rose above the din!


  1. Man, what a great post! I am from the between generation--between the Baby Boom and the Xers... the very small few who RECOGNIZE what you had to do for us to have had the opportunities we have... the Xers and later don't get it... it is forgotten because they think it's done already.

    Doesn't mean my husband had a comfortable time of being the at home parent--no siree. Doesn't mean my income is what it would be were I male--no way man. Doesn't mean that in spite of more women than men graduating med school or b-school that the salaries have equalized even in the upper echelon. Just that those kids don't get it anymore. There is more yet to be done before we live in a civilized country. I however, want to THANK YOU that at least I never had to type very well. The steps that have been taken were forged with you and your sisters.

  2. Sounds like a great bunch of friends. I am rather envious, having practically none from my youth or school or uni.

  3. You make me want to be a Babson Beaver!

  4. I am the Gale who is honored to have Alice/Allie as my friend. Above all, I am so grateful to her for her MEMORY of all the things we did at Babson: the all female study groups, the invigorating case analyses (some of them) - and doing very well academically. But the most important thing Alice reminded me of during our recent visit together is that although we may not have achieved a lofty corporate title and huge salary, we did well in several jobs during our careers - while we raised some pretty well-adjusted children. And these (now) adult children respect us not only for how we "cook", but for how we think. Here's to our continuing friendship, Allie!