Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Celebrate March – National Women’s History Month

The name Dorothy C. Stratton (1899 – 2006) caught my eye as I looked at the list of women being honored on the Women’s History website in celebration of Women’s History Month. According to Wikipedia, the surname Stratton happens to be shared by many notables, including Indiana author Gene Stratton Porter (1863-1924).

In April I plan to visit the Gene Stratton Porter Museum in Rome City, Indiana with my eldest daughter Kimberly and granddaughter Hailey. Kimberly became fascinated with Porter after reading one of ­her books, A Girl of the Limberlost.

Growing up in Indiana I had heard of the Limberlost, and I knew it had something to do with deep woods, tangled vines, beautiful moths and butterflies. However, I didn’t realize it actually existed as a swampy area in northeastern Indiana where Porter set her stories. Sadly, the swamp no longer exists. Oil drilling and farms encroaching on these wild acres of land resulted in the swamp being drained, much to Porter’s dismay.
Gene Stratton Porter
As a young married woman, Porter lived in Limberlost Cabin in Geneva nearby the swamp until her precious Limberlost was ruined. She then moved to Sylvan Lake near Rome City, Indiana where her large home is now a museum on a stunning tract of land rich with trees and wildlife. The Limberlost Cabin is an Indiana State Historic Site. Porter’s move to Rome City enabled her to continue her work as a naturalist, photographer and writer. She published 12 novels along with nature, poetry and children’s books as well as numerous magazine articles.

Dorothy C. Stratton
In contrast to Porter’s fascination with nature, Captain Dorothy C. Stratton served the United States in the Coast Guard as director of SPARS (Semper Paratus Always Ready), the very first United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. In fact she was instrumental in the founding of this women’s military unit during WWII and came up with the name. Today there are no restrictions on how far a talented woman can advance in rank in the Coast Guard.
As a Girl Scout from Brownies to Senior Scouting in High School, I should have known Dorothy C. Stratton was then serving as the National Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of America during her long and varied career. You can find her complete biography here.

Following is a link to a film about the SPARS with both dated and current clips:

Toward the end of the article about Dorothy Stratton on the Women’s History website mentioned above, I found this quote, “See how Dorothy C. Stratton and SPARs changed women’s lives in this short film with compelling vintage and current video, Dorothy Stratton and the Spars, The Legend Continues   

(If you can wade through the film to almost the end, you’ll hear a contemporary woman Coast Guard Commander setting the record straight following the film clip immediately preceding her appearance.) I’m sure you’ll catch the reference and think about how times have changed for women due to the sacrifices of those who have paved the way.

Always writing with the feminine spirit in mind,


C.K. Thomas, author
“Take a chance, amaze yourself!”