Firm in reliance, laugh a defiance, Laugh in hope, for sure is the end, March, march - many as one Shoulder to shoulder and friend to friend.
- "March of the Women," 1911
IN 1977 IT takes a songsheet of the printed words to prompt a group sing. But in 1917 there were 5,000 women on Pennysylvania Avenue singing from memory the many verses of the National Woman's Party marching song, as they strode, all in white, their banners in white, purple and gold, asking for women's suffrage.
Hazel Hunkins Hallinan is a survivor. The sprightly woman, short in stature, tall in spirit, is the last of the sturdy band of women suffragettes of the National Woman's Party, who picketed the White House and disturbed Woodrow Wilson with persistent demands for the passage of the 19th Amendment for voting rights for women.
Suffrage was the major objective - and a volatile issue - of the women's movement for the first two decades of the 20th century. The National Woman's Party, guided by Alice Paul, pioneered in militant tactics, picketing the White House and staging massive parades and demonstrations. The group suffered ridicule and abuse and was the butt of cartoons and caricatures. Alice Paul was to write the resolution introduced in Congress in 1923 and heard for 49 sessions until 1972 when Congress passed the Equal Right Amendment.
Alice Paul died this year at 92, still battling for ratification of the Equal Right Amendment. Now from the old guard there is just her friend, Hazel, who had marched shoulder to shoulder for more than 60 years and came from London to join in a tribute to her fighting companion. And right now Hazel is asking how she can reach the current residents of the White House, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, outside of picketing like in the old days. She insists the battle is not over, it's not even joined.
On Friday, for one thing, she is joining the March for Equal Rights parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the National Archives to the White House, as more than 30 organizations follow a symbolic white horse to salute the anniversary of the Aug. 26, 1920, adoption of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. Once more they march in white, carrying the white banners lettered in gold and purple, many of them originals from the early battles, as they reenact the suffrage march of the early 1900s.
There is a quiet intense manner, her blue eyes sharp, as she repeats, "Equal rights is so clear-cut; it's fundamental - a basic change. It really shouldn't be muddled up with anything else - no side issues. All the other little injustices can be taken on later. For half a cent I would stay here and campaign."
But the 87-year-old feminist is returning to London, her home for the past 57 years. She intends to keep up an on-going siege of Parliament - to get enforcement of the Equal Pay and the Anti-discrimination Acts, both passed in 1975. She works through the Six Point Group. "We started in 1922 with six points to be achieved. As we got a point, we added another point, so we're actually never done," she declares triumphantly. She spent 18 years as a chairman and is now vice president. "It's just one step up and less duty."
She was born in Aspen, Colo., and grew up in Billings, Mont., the only child of Civil War veteran Lewis and Anne Whittingham Hunkins. "I hated being an only child, I used to ask for a little brother."
She remembers that in her childhood President Theodore Roosevelt visited Billings - "must have been about 1904. He appeared on the train's observation car and spoke to the crowd. Someone spotted his daughter Alice. "She's smoking a cigarette - she's smoking a cigarette' - the low words ran through the crowd like the sound of a train starting up. I didn't care, but that's all I remember about his visit."
After her 1913 graduation from Vassar she taught in the chemistry department of the University of Missouri but resigned in January, 1916, to return to Billings because of her mother's illness. In the spring she was ready for another job. "I had decided I wanted to be a chemist, not a teacher again. I applied from New York to California, answering every ad relating to chemists. I got stacks of letters back. A big stack. Every single one read, 'You are qualified, but we do not employ women.' I was indignant!"
It was at that time Anna Louise Rowe arrived in Billings and talked about suffrage. "I joined up. In six months I was the Montana state chairman of the National Woman's Party."
That same year, 1916, she went to Colorado Springs, Colo. "We were there to launch the campaign of the National Woman's Party. We were on street corners, all open air. I was standing by Alice Paul. She turned to me and said, 'Go on, say something.' I looked at her. She had such blue eyes, no they were so dark, they were purple.One didn't disobey Alice Paul. She was such a compelling person. I got on the truck and have no idea what I said. Later she told me I was wonderful.
"The next thing I was in Washington at the headquarters, it was in the Dolly Madison House on Lafayette Square, working for 'AP.' We all called her that, but never said it to her."
She smiles a moment and recalls, "Washington was a little town then. You knew everyone. We used to rent canoes on Sunday and portage on the river and paddle down the canal. Sometimes we did it the other way.
"Later we crossed over to Jefferson Place and we called it 'Yellow Peril.' We had the dining room for foolks to come eat in - they had to eat someplace. It went like a bang, very successful. But it was painted this terrible yellow.
"I remember when Katharine Hepburn came with her three little girls - that's her mother, Katharine Hepburn's, I'm speaking of. We all took turns taking care of the little girls.
"Our group was militant, but we never sanctioned violence. It was anathema to Alice Paul. Ours was peaceful picketing, although violence was put upon us. We were clubbed by the police, had our clothing torn and our banners ripped from the poles.
"I remember when I was speaking in Lafayette Square being pelted with eggs. My coat was dripping when I finished."
In the spring of 1917 the women appeared at the White House gates. On their white banners "we had all the words President Wilson used as he went across the country getting support for the war. We used democracy, freedom, liberty, justice and then we added, 'Mr. President, What Are You Doing For Women?"
"We always had four pickets, two at each gate, every day, summer and winter. Sometimes there were eight because it took two to hold a big banner." The press of the day dubbed the pickets "Silent Sentinels."
"We were arrested for our picketing. Oh, many times. I can't even remember how many. Once when we were arrested, the judge sentenced us to jail. About 20 of us for 30 days. Off we went to Occoquan Jail. It was closed down except for some Negro prisoners on the upper decks. The warders were dreadful men. The food was terrible - oatmeal full of worms. We all went on a hunger strike. We slept in the corridor in a long row, side by side on the cold, damp floor, all rolled up in blankets. Within the week President Wilson pardoned us."
In 1920 she married Charles Thomas Hallinan, a Chicago reporter. When they sailed for London on a year's sabbatical, ratification was rolling for the 19th Amendment and Hazel knew that one battle had been won for a multitude of women who had maintained the struggle. Hallinan fell in love with England. He later became European financial editor for UPI, and she became London stringer for The Chicago Tribune - as Hazel Hunkins.' She chuckles, "He used to say he was an emigre but I remained an immigrant."
There were four children born in England in true equality, two sons, two daughters. Nancy, a novelist, whose latest is "Night Swimmers," and business executive Joyce followed their mother to Vassar. Urbanologist Timothy attended Harvard and later Oxford and engineer Mark went to Cambridge in England, requiring her to wear a light blue and a dark blue rosette for the boat races. She now takes great delight in five granddaughters and four grandsons.
She says that two dreadful years of drought affected her 131-year-old house in London, which was built on solid clay. A wall cracked and tilted. Then five stories of ledges started crumbling, a brick archway in the hall fell. In four months time, two tons of bricks were carried out, three steel plates were bolted to stain the wall "It was like a Bailes bridge," she sighs. After a moment he goes on, "I love roses, have lots on them, some as big as cabbages. They are floribundas with 10 and 12 bloom on the stem. They get so heavy I have to prop them up. I'm not a rosarian, you understand, I just raise roses."
The woman with a new leftover childhood freckles and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] blonde hair, - "it's tinted, you row" - calls herself a feminist - that nans pro-female, she reminds. She hinks consciousness-raising a great development and says, "It makes everything bearable when one gets rid of anti-woman feelings."
What is it like to be a survivor" "They're all gone now. It's loely - oh yes, it's lonely." She hold her glasses in one hand, taps her other hand for a moment. She slowly names her friends - Lucy Burns, Anna Kelton Wiley, Mable Vernon, Evelyn Walsh McLean, Anne Martin, Sue White, Bayard Hilles, Abby Scott Baker - and now Alice Paul. But Hazel Hunkins Hallinan is determined that the drums bang faster for the parade that started so long ago.It just must be that in America "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex."
When Hallinan died in 1971, at age 71, Hazel took his ashes to Billings for burial beside her parents. Since their grave statues had deteriorated, she decided to have four identical stones made, including her own, which she asked the stone mason to store for the future. When she visited Billings later, "I called my best friend, Helena O'Donnell, to get together. Her friend said, 'Hazel? Good heavens, I thought you were dead. I saw your tombsone in the cemetery.'"