The Breakout

July 23, 2008

From an early age (3), Random Granddaughter has been considering her career options. In reverse order, she seems to lean toward becoming 3) a ferry captain, 2) a railroad engineer, or 1) a fire captain.

Now that she has reached the ripe old age of 4, she seems to be sticking with these career goals. However, I don’t want her to get “pigeonholed” by these fairly narrow and typecast possibilities, which might fall into the category of “feminist stereotypes.” Although she’s not much of a fashion-obsessed person yet, I do think she should consider careers where she might be able to wear pretty, feminine clothes. RG has been known to put on a dress now and then.

My wife and I will be providing daycare for our granddaughter during the last week of August because day camp is ending and her new pre-school (based in the home of one of her mommies’ friends) hasn’t started yet.

I thought I might read to her from Bedside Book of Bad Girls: Outlaw Women of the American West by Michael Rutter, a book I snatched up when I recently came across it in a library.

I was immediately struck by the picture on the cover, showing Anna Emmaline McDoulet and Jennie Stevens. Jennie, better known in her time (1890s) as “Little Britches,” showed a lamentable tendency to dress up in jeans. However, her partner in would-be crime, Anna Emmaline McDoulet, who became better known as “Cattle Annie” after she decided to take a whirl at cattle rustling, poses in the picture wearing a dress while holding a carbine by her side.

RG sometimes gets headed off before she can really get into an activity she would really like to pursue, much as Little Britches was frustrated when after the two desperadoes were pursued by a couple of lawmen, Marshall Bill Tilghman caught up with her after a long chase. Although Little Britches shot at him as he chased her, he was reluctant to shoot a woman, so he shot her horse dead instead.

She was said to have thrown dirt in his face and bit and scratched him, until he finally overpowered her and aggravated beyond all measure, gave her a spanking. (Although our family does not spank, I’m sure RG will identify with Little Britches’ frustration and humiliation.)

Although both young female desperadoes rode with the famous Dalton and Doolin gangs, they had trouble getting the male outlaws to fully accept them. The men had a tendency to let them mend their clothes and do the cooking. By the time they were sixteen, the law authorities were tired of two teenagers’ juvenile delinquency antics and both were sentenced to prison (sent from Kansas to Massachusetts).

Little Britches died of consumption a year after her release, but Cattle Annie settled down and “went straight.” In fact a descendent of her posted the following on a web page:

Cattle Annie was my aunt – she did not remain ‘back east’ after reform school. She returned to Oklahoma, married, had 2 sons (who were mainly raised by their father & paternal grandparents), divorced, traveled with the XIT Wild West Show, remarried, became a devout Christian, devoted wife & very respected member of the community. She remained very active right up to the end. She learned to water ski the summer she was 72 (after having had a broken hip), but had to give it up because it made her ‘too tired’. She went surfing with her great grandson at age 80, because according to her, her grandson was too big a ‘fuddy duddy’. She was truly a remarkable lady. She lived in Oklahoma City up to the time of her death & is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

–Ann S.E.

If the mommies don’t want me to read the Cat in the Hat to RG just yet, I suspect that the story of Little Britches and Cattle Annie would go over even less well. I will restrain myself.