Meet Penny Colman

Tonight I was organizing files on my computer (long overdue task!!) and discovered Meet Penny Colman, a 2011 6-minute video filmed and edited by Vicki Cobb, president of iNK  (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) Think Tank, a web site with resources galore for readers and teachers of nonfiction literature. Watching myself three years later is a bit embarrassing but still an accurate glimpse of “where I write.”


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Delicious juicy peaches at our local Farmers’ Market this year!!  Wait, I told Linda as she was about to cover this peach and pecan pie that we made for dinner with a friend tonight, I’ve got to take a picture.  The rest of the menu is: grilled salmon; corn on the corn; a vegetable medley; and raisin, nut pumpernickel bread–all from a Farmers’ Market, long may they stay in business!!! peaches

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What Have I Been Up To?

Quick update via a question and answer format to fill in the gap between my 2/15  and 9/3 posts, although I did post on August 26th, Women’s Equality Day:

Have you been speaking?

Penny:  Yes–13 illustrated programs between then and now in various venues and on different topics–”Celebrating Women,”  Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made a Difference, and  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World.  In March, I was delighted to give the keynote speech at an event honoring World War II women who had served in the military and the workforce (co-sponsored by Bergen County, NJ and the League of Women Voters).  The link to my 18-minute keynote speech and slide show is on YouTube:
The photos are: Barbara Ward Christianson, Marine; Beverly Rosenstein, WAC (Army); and Dorothy Dempsey, SPAR (Coast Guard), who is shown receiving a medal and commendation from Kathleen Donovan, the County Executive.Marinesmall

WACsmallSPARsmall(My Fall calendar is posted on my website with my talks on Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II to Corpses, Coffins and Crypts: A History of Burial, and Thanksgiving: The True Story).

Have you been writing?

Penny: Yes! I am about finished with Listen!: Wise Words from Our Foremothers.  I am wrapping up revising and updating a new edition of my 2000 bestselling book Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America.  My book, The Truth About How Women Got the Vote, is underway.  If you want to receive email updates about these projects, including when they’ll be available, please contact me at

Did you have fun?

Penny: Yes, from 19 days in Alaska, which include a visit with my sister Cam and her husband Rich, to lots of grandmothering. Photos are: me and Linda at the Mendehall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, me and Linda at Girls on the Run event with 10-year-old Sophie, her daddy Jon and Uncle Steve;  me on Mothers’ Day with 3-month-old Quinn and Balan: Quinn and Balan at the Jersey Shore for the first time & not quite sure what to make of it, 8/25/14. plmendensmallS,J,S,P,LgirlsQ:B:PmotherdaysmallQuinnshoresmallBalanshoresmall

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Lucky and happy me! I had two birthday celebrations this year with all three of my sons and their families, including 10-year-old Sophie & 6-month-old Balan and Quinn! First the weekend with my brother Kip (his b-day is two days before mine) and family at Bemus Point, NY, on Lake Chautauqua, then last night at home in Englewood, NJ. Photos: our excursion to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum & Center for Comedy in Jamestown, NY (l-r front row: Aunt Joyce with Balan, Penny, Nickie with Quinn, Linda, Sophie; back row: David (over Nickie’s shoulder), Steve, Ursula (over Linda’s shoulder), Jon, Katrin).  Me and Kip on 8/30 opening the box of once-read thriller that Linda and I passed on to him; me with Quinn and Sophie on 9/2 familylucyabout to blow out candles on a rapidly melting ice cream cake.P&KCandles

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Women’s Equality Day

August 26th!! It’s Women’s Equality Day established by Congress to celebrate the day in 1920 when the the Nineteenth Amendment was certified. The long, hard struggle against enormous resistance was over; women had won the right to vote!! CattVictoryNYCsmallThe photo is of an exuberant Carrie Chapman Catt, a key strategist in the final decades of the fight, at the victory march in New York City. “The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty . . . Prize it!

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Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, so Happy Birthday to Susan B! “I wonder,” she once wrote to a young women, “if when I am under the sod–or cremated and floating in the air–I shall have to stir you and others up. How can you not be all on fire?”  She is 32 years old in the image, which is from a daguerreotype. SBAage32

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A Pete Seeger Story

A Peter Seeger story: Wow! I exclaimed when I read Robert Shlasko’s letter to the editor in today’s “New York Times.”  A student at Brooklyn College in 1950, Shlasko attended a rehearsal led by Pete Seeger, who died this week.   While rehearsing the song he had recently written, “If I had a Hammer,” with the phrase in the chorus “between all of my brothers,” a woman asked–”What about women?”  The male chorus members, including Shlasko, groaned.  Pete Seeger, however, said she had a point and added “and my sisters,” a lyric I’ve always taken for granted. With Shlasko’s story, however, it takes on special meaning– a woman speaking up & a man making a change. Linda and I were at the 90th birthday gala celebration for Pete Seeger at Madison Square Garden, a event I’ll always remember.

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Pioneering Woman Scientist

“My idea is that the American man gives over to the woman all the things he is profoundly disinterested in, and keeps business and politics to himself.” Alice Hamilton made that observation when she was in her sixties, after a career in the male worlds of factories, laboratories, and as the first woman professor at Harvard University.  One of the amazing women I wrote about in  “Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made a Difference,” Hamilton was a pioneering scientist who exposed disease-causing toxic substances, including lead, TNT, and benzene. AliceHamiltonage90small The photo is of her at age ninety. “Life is interesting,” she wrote when she was eighty-eight. “I should hate to leave it and not know what will happen next. Maybe we can sit on a cloud and watch.”

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Elizabeth Cady Stanton recalled in her “Reminiscences”  what she and her sisters would find in their stockings that “were pinned on a broomstick, laid across two chairs in front of our fireplace . . . .a little paper of candy, one of raisins, another of nuts, a red apple, an “olie-koek,” and a bright silver quarter of a dollar in the toe.”  Although, she confessed, since she was often “guilty of any erratic performances during the year,” her stocking “often” only held a stick! At our house today we’ll be celebrating with gifts–no sticks!–food, games, music, walks, conversations, checking our urban backyard for wildlife (5 deer & 3 turkeys yesterday): Elizabeth wrote that they “would take a drive over the snow-clad hills and valleys in a long red lumber sleigh. All the children it could hold made the forests echo with their songs and laughter.”

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Jingle Bells

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle prejudice away . . . .A “Sing-In” was held by the National Organization for Women in San Francisco on 12/19/1968 to protest two newspapers that continued to run two columns–”male” & “female” for “help wanted” ads, despite the EEOC’s ruling against that practice. Here are their revised lyrics for “Jingle bells”: “Jingle bells, jingle bell,/Jingle prejudice away/Oh, what fun it would be to find/A de-sex-egrated job today./ Plowing through the ads,/In the paper classified/Searching for a job/How our souls are tried!/ Male and female headings/Just do not satisfy/If we can do the job/Why not let us try?/Why must we be constricted/To any kind of role/When we have all the talent/To fill any help wanted goal?/ If we can do the job/Just give us half a chance/Ability does not depend/ On who is ‘wearing pants.’”
Thanks to David Dismore for this wonderful story!

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