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     I’m not sure why or when I became interested in sports. Maybe it’s because I noticed certain freedoms associated with them. The freedom to physically move around, the freedom to compete or to make instant decisions on my own were, in my mind, all related to playing a sport. I do know that as early as age three I was discouraged from playing sports by everyone around me. Instead of a ball I was given a doll. I had to wear dresses instead of pants. I was encouraged to cook and sew and especially, to slow down. Don’t be so active.

.....When I was nine years old I became a marble fanatic. I played what was known as Ring Taw marbles. We would draw a circle 2 feet wide with a stick in the dirt. Everybody had a ‘shooter’. Shooters are designated marbles used to knock targets out of the ring. Yourshooter would be larger than the other marbles so it'd be powerful enough to do its job. It would also look different from other marbles so you could distinguish it more easily. They usually came in really cool designs and colors, some times they were metallic. We would place any marbles we wished to play with as targets inside the circle; the other player did the same. When it was your turn, you would shoot by kneeling on the ground outside the ring and flick your shooter out of your fist with your thumb at any marble or marbles inside the ring. If you knocked any marbles out of the ring you could shoot again. The next player shoots if you haven't knocked any marbles out and/or your shooter remains in the ring. If the opponent’s shooter is inside the circle after a miss, it is considered to be fair game. It is more difficult to knock a shooter out of the ring because it is bigger and heavier. Both players continue shooting in turn until the ring is empty. If you managed to propel your opponent’s shooter out of the ring, you’d win all the marbles that had been previously been knocked out, including that shooter. I developed my hand eye coordination skills by playing marbles.

.....By the time I was ten I had captured the largest collection of 'shooters' which made me the neighbor Champ. My mother used to ask me, "where did you get all these marbles!" I used to bring home large bags of them several times a week. I didn't dare tell her I was playing in the dirt every day in the sweet little dresses I had to wear to school. But when I turned twelve I was highly criticized for playing marbles in the dirt by both the neighborhood boys and their mothers. I was embarrassed into quitting.

.....When I was thirteen I discovered pin ball machines. That became my new obsession. It cost money to play so I had to figure out ways to earn. With my older brother, Chuck, I raked leaves, shoveled snow, mowed lawns. Eventually, I delivered newspapers, and in due course was allowed to babysit. There was a problem though with playing marbles and a lesson to be learned. The same boys I played marbles with also played pin ball. They remembered me. I had always had a great relationship with them. That’s why I couldn’t understand why they would ‘tilt’ the machine on me while I was playing pin ball with them. At first they would apologize and say it was a mistake, but then they were out right nasty about it. They’d laugh and tell me I wasn’t supposed to be there playing. After that I had to sneak to play, carefully looking in the window to see if anyone was around before I went into the candy store.

.....In high school, I was fascinated by the school letter that adorned the sweaters that the male athletes wore. I wanted that letter. Any girl in school who wore the school's white sweater with the school letter had gotten it because she was dating one of the boys; it was actually his letter. I wanted to earn mine. I asked the gym teacher how I could earn the school letter. Any boy in the school could earn the letter by playing on any varsity team for two years. That meant by the end of his sophomore year most male athletes had their letter. It was different for girls. A female had to play five sports for four years to get her letter. I played basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, softball and bowling. In those days, the gym teachers did not take women’s sports seriously. The group of girls I played with were given a short description of the rules of the games, given the ball and then the teacher disappeared into her office. We were only allowed to play in half the gym. The other half of the gym was being used by the boys. No one taught us ‘how’ to hit or throw a ball. In basketball, after dribbling two steps we had to pass the ball to another player so we didn’t strain ourselves. Gymnastics was a joke because we were allowed on the gymnastic equipment but never taught anything about it. My friends and I used to swing and jump as best we could without instruction. If the boys’ athletics department needed the entire gym to practice for a big game we were ousted from the space. Despite all that, playing sports was a lot of fun and kept me and my friends out of trouble. We never smoked or drank because we wanted to play well. And we never got into trouble with the authorities. We were good kids.

.....My school letter was handed to me, along with my high school diploma at my graduation ceremony. I still have it in the same original packaging that it was given to me. After high school was over, there really was no place to wear it anymore. I do take pride in the fact that I was, at that time, one of only ten girls to ever earn a school letter in the history of my high school.

.....After graduating high school, I got a job as a receptionist down by Wall Street and moved out of my parents’ home. I wasn’t into politics and knew little about the various social movements that were growing around me. However, I was aware that I had low self esteem. Around that time, I met Donna Gottschalk (now Donna Bacchiochi). Donna is an artist, poet, musician and an intellectual. We became best friends and room mates. Donna showed me that New York was an exciting place to be in the 60s (it still is). NYC was a complex of inter-related cultural and political trends. We went to museums, attended lectures and concerts. I was introduced to foreign and avant-garde films. Reading was always a passion for me so Donna gave me books to read, especially ones written by women. I came into a little bit of money and she encouraged me to go to Europe. I visited Ireland, England, Belgium, Netherland and France. While I was in London, I had gone to the movies with some Londoners. They pointed out to me that Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals were sitting right in front of us. From them, I learned about Billie Jean and her struggle to increase the prize money for women’s tennis and elevate the status of women in society. I felt an immediate solidarity with women tennis players because of my own experiences regarding women and sports.

     When I got back from Europe in 1971, NYC was rocking with marches, conscious raising groups, and social political gatherings. The 1960s had become synonymous with all the new, exciting, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period, which continued to develop in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and beyond. According to the internet, in the United States, "The Sixties", is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and social revolution near the end of the decade; and pejoratively to describe the era as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the libertine attitudes that emerged during this decade. Rampant recreational drug use and casual sex has become inextricably associated with the counterculture of the era. The focus for me was on the fight against sexist attitudes towards women in the work place, on the playing field and in their everyday lives.

.....I could identify with what I heard other women saying because I felt all my life that I as being told I couldn't "do" certain things. I wasn't smart enough or I “shouldn’t" do particular activities. It wasn't “ladylike”! Donna encouraged me to go to consciousness rising groups. I started to feel more self confident. Donna, who was attending Cooper Union Art School, advised me to further my education. Back in 1968 she had told me that if I really wanted to go to college, I would find a way. It took a few years, but I finally managed to enroll at Long Island University's Brooklyn Center. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I loved college. I loved learning. I loved LIU. I was surprised at my college grades after being an average student in high school. I was invited into the honors program in college. I started meeting women who talked about liberation. And in every classroom women’s studies was encouraged. I learned about women in literature, art, science, politics and history. I heard Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan speak on campus. On TV, I became fascinated by the bold speeches of Shirley Chisholm and Gloria Steinem. And I celebrated the fact that my mother was a positive female role-model in my life because she worked and kept a family. I didn’t just appreciate those women’s fierceness, I wanted to emulate it.

.....By the end of my freshman year I had gotten a work study job with the college photographer, Alan Tepper. It was a natural undertaking for me. Taking photographs helped to quench my thirst for hand eye coordination activities. Not only did Al and I photograph general campus scenes, we shot public relation situations, sports, and faculty and Board of Trustee meetings. I matured a lot during that fine period, mainly because I was exposed to a broader perspective on college, that is, business politics. When I first arrived on campus I only saw things from the student’s stand point, but after attending faculty, administrative board and trustee’s meetings my views were changing. I learned everybody's point of view. I began to understand the reasons why the administration did things a certain way and how the faculty and students thought about how their campus should be run. I was becoming a more balanced individual and became a managerial thinker. Little did I know I was on the road towards building a powerful womens organization.

..... See More About Billie

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