Thursday, 29 January 2015

Courageous Women Through Time Even In Our Small Burgenland Village.

Somehow it's mostly the small things that pack a punch!

Strong and courageous women, or talking about them seems to be in favour again. Wherever your glance happens to fall, there is a story of one. The tide of this popular subject rolls onto shore every decade or so. The eighties used its ridiculous dress code to clad women with a pair of shoulder pads. Maybe society thought that inner strength needed to be enhanced visually?

Gosh, my shoulder pads were treasured and hauled out for any and all tops. When any of us look back upon that unfortunate dress code, we tend to cringe in shame about our " linebacker " shoulders enhanced by that over teased hairstyles.

How much ozone damage did we cause by our constant need to have our hair stand up in that powerful halo? Going to a disco meant taking a travel size hairspray along in your handbag and spraying liberally...Ladies bathrooms in the eighties were dominated by wafting troughs of cheap hairspray.
It seems a miracle that any of us found husbands because we must have looked rather scary and invincible! The one saving grace in the whole eighties dress debacle was that online ( Facebook & co ) was still a twinkle in the developer's eyes.

The tide of strong women has this time brought along leaders of major companies, government, online newspapers and places of influence. All well and good, but courage and strength in a woman needn't be linked to how much influence, money or power she has. On the contrary, often it's the average woman, the one you hear about in a passing conversation, that makes you sit up and have admiration.

One of my part time jobs is being a sort of social liaison in our village. Hats off to the village committee for being so progressive. Many times this affords me the privilege to have the most brilliant conversations with the older and at times lonely villagers. With all our modern technology and ways we do tend to forget that having an ordinary conversation with people is the best way to feel good.

Yesterday afternoon I visited a lady in our village. As we were hurtling down an avenue of conversation which by the way had many off shoots, this delightful lady ( in her mid seventies ) told me in passing about her Grandmother who had left to find work in America. Do you also like to make mental images of things you hear? I was sitting there with such admiration of this lady's Grandmother and already shaping my mental picture of her.

We sat there and with the aid of her mother's birth date and her excellent memory, ( it might surprise you how detailed and vast the memory of a pensioner is ) tried to put a date and time on this adventure and settled on more or less a few years after the turn of the century. And no, not the 21st but the 20th one.

Our village is tiny even now but I can imagine that it was even tinier back then. As with any emigration wave, it has to do with finding work. Eh, not to be too blunt, but back then people relied on themselves and not the government in all its various guises. No work to be had? Go further afield to find some.

I keep on picturing this courageous young woman starting off on her adventure. Remember, that in those days there were no aeroplanes, no telephones and no electricity expect for the privileged few. When you start to fill out the mental image of this gigantic undertaking, you cannot help but give a mental bow.

Fast forward a century and to all the modern technology it contains and'll agree that moving to different continents or even different cities in your own country is almost as easy as snapping your fingers. Through television, Internet and books you have some sort of idea what awaits you.

Back in 1905, travelling as a young woman to America from a rural village in Burgenland meant that you had to have courage, determination and strength and somehow that makes me wonder what any Burgenland woman of that ilk could have achieved in our modern time?