On The Bricks

May 1, 2020

Some more information from The Book of Bizarre Truth says girls today have some freedom to be what they want to be when they grow up. It hasn’t always been that way, but some women didn’t let that stop them.

          Times were rough for women in the Wild West, so cracker – jack stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst decided to live most of her life as a man. Born in 1812, Parkhurst lived well into her 60s. She is remembered to have been a hard – drinking, tobacco – chewing, one – eyed brute with a taste for adventure. She gave birth at one point, but the child died. She lived out the rest of her life pursuing her stagecoach career until she died in December 1879. It was then that her identity was revealed, much to the surprise of her friends.

          The life of James Berry, M.D., is proof positive that truth is often stranger than fiction. A vegetarian, teetotaler, and gifted doctor with skills ahead of his time (he performed one of the first successful cesarean sections while serving as a military surgeon), Dr. Barry was also quite possibly a female. If you lived in 19th – century Britain and happened to be a girl, you could kiss your dreams of being a surgeon goodbye. Barry, who real name may have been Miranda, allegedly assumed a male identity to become an army physician. Barry’s voice was high and he reportedly challenged those who made fun of it to a duel on the spot. When Barry died in 1865, the woman who was preparing the body for burial was said to be the first to discover his secret.

          Born in Missouri in the midst of slavery, Cathay Williams served as a house slave until Union soldiers freed her. The soldiers employed her after that, and she worked for them for a while before wanting to see more action firsthand. Since women weren’t allowed in the army, Williams dressed as a man to enlist. Of the approximately 5,000 black infantrymen and cavalry who served in the frontier army, William Cathay was the only woman to serve as a Buffalo Soldier (the name first given to members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, and is now often used to refer to soldiers in any of the six black regiments that served). In 1868, Williams was examined by an army surgeon, who discovered her identity. She was discharged and retired to New Mexico, where she passed away at age 82.

          Famous Okie information: Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Dorothy Lucille Tipton was a gifted musician from the start. Her love of saxophone and the piano was bittersweet, as the school she was attending wouldn’t let girls play in the band. After escaping high school, Tipton decided to do whatever it took to pursue her passion. She started going by Billy, wore suits, and bound her chest with tape to create the illusion that she was one of the guys. It worked, and Tipton’s musical career was on its way. Tipton performed with some of the era’s jazz greats and even recorded an album with The Billy Tipton Trio. Tipton married a woman, adopted three sons, and was reportedly a good father. Tipton died in 1989, and it was then that her sons learned of their father’s hidden identity.

Keep going on your New Year’s resolutions: Reading is good for your brain. It can reduce stress and can improve your memory and concentration. You might add to your years resolutions to read a book a month.

Sage advice: In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. ~Lao Tzu

Made me laugh: It takes real skills to choke on air, fall up the stairs, and trip over nothing. I have those skills.

          Stay safe. See you on the bricks soon!