IR: …backpacking, all of the above. And, when I was in Africa, I had quite a bit of opportunity to travel, and traveled a lot in Africa. And, then came home and I, that was the fall of 1970, and I went - I got an accidental job, someone quit - I got an accidental job in the middle of the year teaching at Xavier High School and was teaching English at Xavier High School in 1970. Just come home from the Peace Corps, and so my contacts in Washington were pretty tight, because a lot of the Peace Corps people went to Washington. And, I went to Washington in the winter of 1970, the beginning of 1971, somewhere around in there, and through these Peace Corps friends met Representative Martha Griffiths, who was the person who was going to start the Equal Rights Amendment and was very impressed with her. And, in 1971, I went back to Washington. I was married, and my husband was fortunately employed enough to support me, and I went there, and I stayed about, I don’t know, six weeks, something like that, with a friend, and simply volunteered in Martha Griffiths’ office to help, and ran errands, and collated things, and made phone calls, and so forth, and helped her. I came home in - I don’t remember the chronology of something like that - but the Equal Rights Amendment was pretty darn near sure going to pass Congress by that time. And, I had a wonderful “in”, my husband, his name was John Lyons, was an attorney at Fennimore, Craig, Van Amman and Udall. He was an associate, and in that - in those days the associates were assigned to a senior partner, kind of acted as their assistant while the senior partner trained them. And, he worked directly for John O’Connor, who was a partner at Fennimore, Craig, Van Amman, and Udall. And, John O’Connor’s wife was Mrs. O’Connor, who during that time, was appointed to the Arizona Senate to an empty seat, and then, by 1972, she was the Majority Leader, the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate. I knew her personally because, Mr. O’Connor, John, was very good about doing things for us, and we were in their home many times. Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor were wonderful hosts, and they gave lovely dinner parties, and so forth, and they had two little boys at the time. And, they invited us to a lot of these dinner parties, because we were kind of exotic, we had just come back from the Peace Corps, and we had just been to Europe and so we could add stories to it. And, Mrs. O’Connor was more than a little of an elitist, and she simply didn’t know any young working women, period. And, the only young women that she knew were the wives of the partners - the associates at Fennimore, Craig - and so, Mrs. O’Connor recommended me for a number of things, this seminar, and this convention, and so forth. When she was in the Senate and they would call and say I need a woman to be on this committee or go to this, and she recommended me for a whole bunch of things, not necessarily because she knew me, or liked me, or approved of me, or anything, but because she didn’t know anyone else, and I was there, and I was socially acceptable. So, I got a lot of perks through her, and went to a number of committees and various kinds of things as the appointee of the Majority Leader of the Senate. And, during that time, I began to talk politics with Mrs. O’Connor, and she found out that I was not of her persuasion, at which point she was not quite as thrilled with me as she had been before, but she wasn’t stupid, she understood, you know, I’d been in the Peace Corps. And so, in 1972, the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment heated up in Congress, when they came back after the December recess, and it went on through February, and I remember it - you have it passed in March, I was thinking it was February - but it doesn’t matter, and it passed that spring. I kept in contact with these Peace Corps friends in Washington, and understood by that time, that ratification process was going to be quick, immediate. They had written into the amendment that as soon as the Congress passed it, it went to the states, and the states could begin to pass it. So I, not knowing diddily about politics, but being a political animal, went on my own, with not knowing any - not having any lateral contacts, not having any Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, not belonging to NOW, nothing - went down to the legislature, and I talked to Mrs. O’Connor, and I said, “Mrs. O’Connor, let’s do this, it looks like it’s going to pass right away.” And she kind of patted me on the head and she said, “Yes, honey, I’m the Majority Leader of the Republican Senate, I’ll get it passed within the first 24 hours of the time it passed Congress.” I said “right on, that’s great,” and it passed Congress, and she had the power to - this is where I am a little, a little fuzzy in my chronology - she had the power to set the agendas for the committees because she was the Majority Leader. And, like within 24 hours of the time it passed in Congress, all the states said “we’re passing it, immediately, we’re in a hurry to be the first or the fifth or the whatever,” and we wanted to be among the top ten to pass it. And, so, in order for it to go through the process, it had to go first to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, I don’t know whether Senator O’Connor controlled the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee or not, but she asked that it be put on, and I think it was maybe the next day, it was very quickly after passing Congress, within 24 hours. And so the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Mrs. O’Connor sat, and was chaired by a man that I’ve been digging through my memory to come up with his name, and I think his name was John Conlan, a very handsome, blond, and vicious young Republican - got defeated in a Republican primary later, and his career went down the drain. But, he was very ambitious, and he was very smart, and he was very good looking. And, so I went to that committee meeting by myself, I didn’t know anyone, and at that committee meeting, there were three or four other people who were just like me; they were alone, they didn’t know anyone else, they just knew that this was the place to be. And, the Equal Rights Amendment came up on the agenda in the Judiciary Committee, and John Conlan said something very mild like, “you know, this is a big national deal, I don’t think we should rush into this, I think we should study it, and hold some hearings, and talk about it, what do you think Majority Leader O’Connor?” And, without batting an eye, she gave in, and at that moment, we almost lost it in Arizona. There was another couple of facts. But, she had the power at that instant to get it passed. She had the situational power as the majority leader, and she chose to be, to “get along, go along, to be good girl,” to follow the Republican process. And, more than anything, as has been shown by her votes since, especially her vote in the Florida case, that her primary loyalty has always been to the Republican Party, and her primary loyalty has always been to the status quo: to “get along, go along.” And, she was not going to shake things up; she was not going to make any statements, nothing. So, I have a lot of resentment left over from that day over the years, because Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wasn’t known as “Day” in those days – we didn’t know her name was Sandra Day - had a lot of mileage ever since then as being an Equal Rights Amendment supporter, and so forth, and in fact, she was not and she had the power and she didn’t exercise it, and she allowed a ambitious man to overwhelm her, and I’ve always resented her for that, because it was, you know, classic pre-feminist stuff, you know “be a good girl, do what you’re suppose to do, don’t’ wield your power,” and she didn’t wield her power that she had. And, for which she became useless after that, I’m not sure that she ever made a strong statement, I don’t recall, but she was pointless from that point on. So, Mrs. O’Connor, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s role in it has been exploited by her, and exploited by the Republicans, and exploited by President Reagan, and all that as being appointing one of our own and all that when in fact, she was neither feminist, nor a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, nor a believer in women’s political power. She was very situational in her political power. I remained personal sort of contacts with her, and later on I had a baby and when my daughter was eight, Mrs. O’Connor had just been appointed to the Supreme Court, and I made a big deal out of taking my daughter to Washington, going to the Supreme Court, taking her into the Supreme Court to meet Mrs. O’Connor, “see, women can be Supreme Court Justices,” and Sandra was very gracious. She took her by the hand, and she walked her around the Supreme Court and she introduced her to people, and she took us to lunch in the Justices’ dining room, and you know, blah, blah, blah. And, it was very good for Rachel because she did see the power that a single woman had gained for herself. But, Sandra Day O’Connor has been no friend to either the feminist agenda, or the Equal Rights Amendment. We passed in 1972, and I was right there, confused, trying to make sense out of it, very, very alone, not making any sense out of anything.
CP: Now, were you in Washington D.C. at this time?
IR: No, I was living here, my husband was working. I was teaching high school at Xavier High School, and I had only gone for that little bit of time.
IR: And so, somewhere right in there, really close in that time period…somebody called me, I don’t know who, I can’t remember it, and we went to someone’s house and we kind of sat around and the National Women’s Political Caucus had just been formed, and we were kind of building a National Women’s Political Caucus here, but we didn’t know shit, we were just kids and didn’t know anything, and somewhere right along in there Betty Freidan came to Arizona to make a speech. We didn’t sponsor her, I don’t remember, I think maybe somebody like the League of Women Voters, or I don’t know - Shirley Odegaard would know - probably the American Association of University Women, YWCA, someone like that. And, the…it was in the basement of a building that at that time was a bank and now sells pianos on the northeast corner of Camelback and 20th St. It was a relatively small room, and, you know, it was just a speech by somebody who recently had a sort of best selling book, you know. Nobody had heard of her… nobody knew much about her. And, something like 2,000 people showed up, I mean, just overwhelming. She hit the exact moment in time when women were looking for other women; they were looking for the feminist movement; they were looking for women’s lib; they were finding somewhere to connect. And at that, we did recruitment for the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, signed up a bunch of names, and in May of that year - something like May 20th of 1972 - we had an organizational meeting down in Tucson where we formed the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus. It was a very interesting meeting because the people who formed this meeting were all over the place. They were - the woman who chaired was from Tucson, and she was fasting for peace, and she kept drinking juice all day, and being half faint, and you know, there was just all this various kind of hippie, liberal stuff going on, I mean it was just all over the place, very unorganized. Lot of teachers involved with it, and so there was all kinds of talk about by-laws and stuff like that. And we went down there the night before, and the Tucson women hosted us and found us places to sleep in people’s houses, and we got together at someone’s house, and I don’t have any idea where we were, and we sat around on the floor and drank jug wine and bonded. Lot of very young women, hot college women, lot of Tucson, U of A college women; everybody was very poor, there was all this beginning consciousness raising stuff about…
(Tape 1: Side B)
IR: Ok, my chronology is a little vague, I’m an old lady and my brain is a little slipping these days, so my memory was that that meeting in Tucson was May 20th 1972, I’m not sure. We sat around on the floor, and bonded with each other, and drank jug wine, and talked about sisterhood and so forth, and it was a very college-y, hippie sort of evening. We all had Levi’s on, and so forth, and we got up in the morning and virtually all of these women got up and, you know, combed their hair and brushed their teeth and had their Levi’s and there Indian tie dyed shirts and went to the meeting. I of course, being a young wife of young lawyer of substance, went in and got dressed in serious political clothes. I had this navy blue, two-piece suit with a sailor collar, I had navy blue tights, I had navy blue high heels, I had my hair out to here, and I was serious junior league person. I mean, I was so out of style people saw me come out of the bathroom and said “who is this person.” [laughs] And, I was on the agenda to explain and talk about the Equal Rights Amendment. That meeting was all over the place, all kinds of consciousness raising, all kinds of Phoenix Tucson by-law issues, all kinds of stuff. And, I had a little forty minute gig in the afternoon of some sort to talk about the Equal Rights Amendment. And I went straight to the politics, I ignored all the feminist stuff, and went right to the vote count, and said, “here’s the situation, here’s the Arizona legislature, here’s how many Republicans, here’s how many Democrats, here’s those that we know are in favor, and those that are not, blah, blah, blah, and the only way that we can do anything about it is to go straight at the legislature.” That group was more political than most groups because it’s the Women’s Political Caucus, but they weren’t quite ready to hear that, they wanted more bonding and so forth. And so, I was kind of alone, I mean, this was not an overwhelmingly popular issue at that moment. In 1972, I, you know, put my money where my mouth is and immediately went to work on Betty Morrison – put it on pause for a moment; I got this stuff out [reaching for papers]. Betty Morrison, who was a school teacher and a Democrat and her husband was a school teacher, and they were both involved with the teachers union, she ran, whoops, [microphone unhooks] you’re losing me, hang on, ok, am I back?
CP: You’re back
IR: Ok, Betty Morrison ran for the Senate, and so it was a mess, I mean, nobody had it together at all, but I jumped right in, and I knew that the thing that was important was the money, so I was the treasurer of her campaign. And I raised money for her and she was elected to the Arizona Senate.
CP: And this was in ‘72?
IR: And she served one term, no…she must have served two terms because I also worked on it in ’74; chronology is getting a little lost here. But, she was a feminist, but she was kind of out of it, you know, she was a teacher. And, so somewhere along in there in, let me look at the chronology here …somewhere along in the summer of ’72, the spring of ‘73, all that kind of stuff, summer of ’72, I, on my own, without much support, but in the name of the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, went on the road. I probably made 200 speeches at least, if not more. I spoke to every Rotary Club that would listen to me, every Kiwanis Club that would listen to me, every Soroptimist Club in the state. I mean anybody that I could get, boards of directors of non-profit organizations, because I, naïve soul that I was at that moment, thought that we were building a big movement that education would be the answer, that if we simply educated the general public that they would demand that their legislators, that they follow along if they really understood it. And I had this sign, that was on a piece of paper that had I made, there’s my little dress with the sailor collar [pointing to a newspaper photograph] and I made that speech…I’ll bet at least 200 times, everywhere, anyplace, and everyplace that I could get to listen to me, and I became, I became kind of famous because of that, I mean, people had heard of me, and I ran into a reporter during that time named Connie Koenenn and, as you do this, you ought to contact her.
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From the collection of the History and Archives Division, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Copyright and/or publication rights for all items in this collection are retained by this institution.