Dear Carrel, a Letter from Nancy Dredge
My first memory of you, Carrel, is from that funny young marrieds ward Paul and I were in when we first moved to Boston in 1969, bishoped by Richard Bushman. You seemed young and hippie-ish and interesting. But then, we were put in different wards, and I lost track of you for a bit—until Judy Gilliland announced in my student ward Relief Society that a group of women were looking into aspects of early Mormon women’s history to present an Institute class on the topic. I had heard of this group—still sorry I missed the feminist cell years of talking about each other’s lives—but was glad for a way to “get in.” At the first meeting I attended, I picked polygamy to research because I come from so much polygamous stock; you picked it, too, so right away we were working together.
After the class that spring, I lived in Korea for a year with Paul, Elisabeth, and baby David, so I missed the beginning of Exponent II, but I was happy to come aboard on my return and began typing the newspaper. Then came the trauma of what to do with Exponent II when Claudia decided to “stand by her man,” after a GA make it “clear” to him that Claudia was heading up something subversive that he (the GA) clearly thought would go away if she did. I was such a newcomer that many had doubts about my taking over from Claudia (as they should have), but you always expressed confidence in me.
I loved the late evenings (mornings, mid-days) at paste-up, getting the last-minute art, re-typing strips of paper that contained mistakes—or asking someone at the last minute to write an article with an opposing view to balance out that issue. At the same time, I was helping Claudia to edit Mormon Sisters, and you and I did a lot of the background work together—talking to typesetters and actually entering typesetting codes and making corrections down at the printer’s office on Mass Ave. Such fun but crazy times!
The Exponent Day dinners! Choosing the keynote speaker, and then the venue, and then inviting everyone to them—not understanding back then why some people were already rejecting our feminist forum. Remember when Joyce Chen catered it, and it was an hour late? So the men decided they could do better the following year—a Mexican fantasy meal complete with ceviche. (Ahem—but it was also late.) And the retreats—how they evolved from our little board retreats at Grethe’s farm in western Mass or Laurel’s Jerry Horne home in New Hampshire. Your direction and insistence on having them include the Friday night introductions—the most important aspect of the whole retreat, and we still seem to be the only retreat to do them—and your Friday night discussion of intention vs. expectation and the gift of trust have continued to make these retreats safe places where women can share each other’s lives—an extension of the philosophy behind the newspaper itself.
But then—what about all the other things you instigated over the years? The fun meet-ups with friends? Popcorn in the big wooden bowl at your house? All the trips? To Sanibel? The Northwest Pilgrims Retreat? Our trip to Ireland with Cheryl and Barbara to see Sue? Marching with our hats in the St. Patrick Day Parade and going to all the sacred circles? The lady who told us our fortunes with rocks? Going to museums together? Art in Bloom? Our shared love of Chihuly glass? The Terracotta warriors? Our Creativity workshop? Looking at the water at Eileen’s house in Warwick? Book group—our other feminist group? The beaches—many beaches, but especially the one in Ipswich—your house that you let us share with you in September(s)?
It’s not just that these things were fun to do together but that you brought so much to everything we did—by seeing through your eyes and learning via your marvelous brain, my life was so much more than it was on my own.
So, Carrel, you have enriched my life in so many ways, and I love you for it. In fact, erase that last “for it,” because I just plain love you.
Your sister forever,