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  • While I'm not sure who the author was, I firmly believe there was a "Mother's Manual" produced and distributed during the 1950's. I believe it had certain core principles, such as never ask a boy out first, never say I love you first, seem interested (no matter how bone crushingly bored you might be)… I believe that the core manual was adapted for various religions and ethnic backgrounds and while I'm sure the pages are yellowed with age, it still exists in some primitive form today. As an Irish Catholic girl who attended school with the nuns from grade school through college, I received an excellent education from some very bright, very savvy, very independent women. That's why I was always confused when these same sharp thinkers gave me their version of "the rules."

    1. My kisses are worth more than a hamburger (always taken out of economic context)
    2. Never wear patent leather shoes. They reflect up.
    3. Be aware when out to dinner that white table cloths are reminders of bed sheets and one image leads to another and next thing you know…
    4. Boys are hostage to their hormones. It is a girl's duty not to lead them astray.
    5. My body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. (still working to understand that one)

    The list went on. At first I was amused (still am actually) until I saw the serious look on my mother's face. The nuns were apparently giving her her money's worth and she was quite pleased. When we cleaned out the family home I searched in vain for her copy of the manual. Everyone from my generation seemed to know about the manual, we just never actually saw a copy. (perhaps they were locked up with all the National Geographic magazines?)

    Today I can joke about the rules, but there is still a place not so deep down, that is thankful for the courage of those who sacrificed their reputations, family acceptance and social standing to break those rules and give women a voice in living their own lives.

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