On Tuesday I went with some of my friends to the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s 10th Annual Women of Distinction Luncheon, which honors women who have achieved success in their chosen fields and who serve as role models for girls and young women in our communities. Finn Gallery owner Tim Finn went, too, and made available our Girl Scouts of the USA print and poster, which I published last year to benefit Girl Scouts. To make a donation to the Girl Scouts via the purchase of either the print or the poster, please contact the Finn Gallery at 727-894-2899.
I am so proud to be able to say that I was a Girl Scout. I have been involved with the Girl Scouts, in one form or another, for most of my life, and I have deep respect for the opportunities the organization provides to girls and young women. It was truly an honor for me when I was recognized as a Woman of Distinction in 2003. At this year’s luncheon, I learned that more than 53 percent of all female business owners are Girl Scouts alumnae, and a large percentage of women serving in elected and appointed government offices were also Girl Scouts. Also present at the luncheon was Stephanie Roberts, a meteorologist for Tampa’s ABC Action News morning team, and I learned that the morning news team is comprised of more than half a dozen former Girl Scouts. All the women at the anchor desk are former Girl Scouts!
The guest speaker was Jenna Bush Hager, a contributing correspondent to NBC’s The Today Show, an author, and an active teacher who serves as a reading coordinator in Baltimore, Maryland. Jenna is the daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. This year’s Women of Distinction are Sarah “Scottie” Beasley, a retired educator who is currently a substitute teacher for the Polk County School System and a former Brownie and Cadette leader; Jane Castor, Chief of Police for the City of Tampa, who is also active in many community organizations benefitting children; Judith Lisi, a performing arts veteran and CEO of the David A. Straz, Jr., Center for the Performing Arts who also founded Opera Tampa; and Margaret Sullivan, Ph.D., who is currently President of the Southeastern Consulting Group in Higher Education and has helped more than 200 institutions and university systems in the southeastern United States as well as Ecuador, Nicaragua, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands.
I’ve also enjoyed having my sister Honey and her husband Bill and my brother Dan—I call him Buck—and his wife Carolyn with me for a visit. I’ve been eating all the wrong food, but I’ve loved every minute of it. We spent a lot of time outside and walking along the shore. Everyone was excited to see the dolphins that I featured in The Deep Blue Sea.
It’s so good to be surrounded by family and friends! In the very back are, L. to R., Dick Binnig and my brother Dan Buckley. In the front, L. to R., are Kathy Calder and her husband Bart Calder, friends of Dick and Bonnie-Lou Binnig, who were visiting from Maine; my sister Honey; Bonnie-Lou Binnig, whom most of you know is the President of the Moss Pelicans Chapter of the P. Buckley Moss Society; me, with Tim Finn’s daughter Rylee in front of me; my sister-in-law Carolyn; and my brother-in-law Bill Martin.
Let’s hear it for the Tottenville Pirates! L. to R.: Bob Blackam, Honey, and Bill. All went to Tottenville High School together, and Bill had the shirts made for their class reunion.
Supper together the night before everyone went back home. It was great being with my brother and sister and in-laws again. L. to R.: Me, Honey, Bill, Carolyn, and Dan.
This Friday, March 25, marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire that claimed the life of my grandmother Providencia Panno and 145 other people. There is to be a ceremony at the site of the fire, which was just off Washington Square in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village. My cousin Frank Panno and one of my cousins who lives in Italy, Salvatore Cirroni, are going to meet at Union Square and walk over together.
My grandmother and several other relatives were working on the ninth floor when the fire broke out on the floor below them. If the fire had started only a few minutes later, most of the workers would have already left for the day. The stairwell that led to the roof was already burning, and the door to the other stairwell, which led down to the street, had been padlocked by the owners of the company to force workers to use just the one stairwell or the two elevators to make it easier to inspect them for any possibly leftover scraps of cloth that they may have tried to take home. The elevator operators made several runs up to the ninth floor before their cables stopped working and before desperate employees tried to escape by jumping down the elevator shafts, hoping to find a softer landing atop the descending elevator than on the sidewalk nine stories down. The one fire escape was not designed to hold more than a few people at a time and soon collapsed, nor did it go all the way down to the street anyway. Fire department crews responding to the scene soon found that their ladders only reached the sixth story, and they had to watch in horror as people jumped to their deaths, many of them on fire.
The factory’s owners had been fiercely opposed to the general strike of Lower East Side garment workers two years earlier and had hired thugs to beat up their seamstresses when they picketed the plant. They rebuffed the union’s demands for sprinklers and unlocked stairwells. In the wake of the tragedy, there were sweeping reforms to the fire code and in how workers were treated. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company’s fire was the catalyst in putting an end to sweatshop practices.
Watching the news inspired me to paint the little marine pictured below.
God bless our troops!
Mark Your Calendars!
Mark your calendars for April 8-9, when the P. Buckley Moss Museum in Waynesboro, Virginia, will host the Virginia Chapter of the World Organization of China Painters (WOCP) for its 2011 Exhibition and Convention: Artistry on Porcelain. This will be the 2011 State Show of painted porcelain, demonstrations, “Paint-it & Take-it”, white china, and supplies. For more information, please contact either the P. Buckley Moss Museum at 1-800-343-8643 or 540-949-6473 or Kay Atkinson with the VAWOCP at 540-765-9030.