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Essay

Backstory: "Life as It Really Is"

By Sarah Lunnie, Literary Director

IDA. You know I ran for Albany County Clerk?
RONETTE. Wow
IDA. Before women ran for things
RONETTE. How old were / you
IDA. I did things, not just mommy things
RONETTE. Ah
IDA. Was never going to win, but–
RONETTE. Gotta start somewhere
The Treasurer by Max Posner

Like the character Ida in The Treasurer, Max Posner’s grandmother ran for Albany County Clerk as the Republican-AIM candidate in 1967 (the first woman in the city’s history to do so), losing only narrowly to the Democratic incumbent after a spirited campaign. During an early workshop for this production, Max shared with us a trove of family memorabilia — photographs, news clippings, handwritten notes — many of which date from her bid for elected office. Among them were her own typewritten notes for a speech she delivered on the campaign trail. The notes (featured below) don’t record the location or occasion of the speech, but they do suggest that she was preparing to address a group of women. Forty years later, her words echo as much as a personal vision statement as a public rallying cry. In tribute to her campaign, and to the woman herself, we thought we’d share a portion of her speech here. We’ve preserved her original punctuation and emphasis.

I’d like to turn that around and consider with you a moment the whole concept of woman power...
I’d like to make the extravagant… statement that how we use our woman power will determine the future of our society as we know it.
That may sound awfully feminist, but I submit that we women are the great untapped resource of America today.
We here in this room… have to a degree, identified our power and are using it to the best of our ability… but there are thousands of us all over the country who, instead of contributing to society are drawing from it..
I believe that women really must take to heart the famous words of President John F. Kennedy… “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
America is in a state of great crisis today… We talk about the economic crisis, the war crisis and the urban crisis.
We hear much talk about New Morality, New Values
We all have had the experience of trying to communicate with our kids.. I don’t believe there is a NEW morality... But I do believe there is a new emphasis on HONESTY.... AND Honest relationships.... honest approach to work and service..... honest estimations of where the satisfaction is...
I think that we, as women, understand that kind of HONESTY..... because we LIVE it .... in our relationships at home and in our motivation for being out in the world working…
We do not underestimate the economic motivation of work
But I don’t believe, as women, we over-estimate it either...
How many women establish as their goal… early in life.... the mixed blessing of retirement?
Not many, I submit. I believe that most of us work as an end in itself.... For the satisfaction of the experience… and the service we are rendering our community....
I believe we have come to grips with life as it really is…. and that we’ve learned that the true love in life have [sic] to do with being a productive person whose goal is to try to make this world a better place because we passed through…
This is a harried..... hurried world…
There is no room in it for the drainers….
the damners....
and the downers!
I think the time is now for the
Productive Pollyanna’s
to step forward and be heard.....
without embarrassment....
to tell it like it is...
and I believe that we American women .... have that responsibility .... and if we assume it that’s woman power
And that kind of woman power can be translated in as many ways as there are problems to be solved.. in this world..

 Click to see more images from her speech.