Elayne Snyder -- New York NOW president in 1974
I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the youngest of three children… Brother Ted (9 years older) went off to war in the Coast Guards. Sister Naomi [11 years older] was my role model and best friend. My father was in the junk business (a magical place for a child to search for castoff treasures]. My Mother was a wonderful combination of mid-century woman: popular, social, bridge enthusiast and savvy stock market player!
Atlantic City in the forties was a war town, host to thousands of wounded Army soldiers … I volunteered folding bandages. And, for the war effort, I planted Victory gardens, created a sidewalk store out of an orange crate to sell comic books and toys donating every penny for defense! Growing up I had summer jobs on A.C.’s famous boardwalk -selling candy and hot dogs. And, the Atlantic Ocean was a never ending inspiration for my writing and a source of my favorite sport–fishing!
I attended Atlantic City High School, joined a sorority, was active in school politics, enjoyed a busy social life and, looked forward to my next adventure …. going to Florida … (something I always wanted to do!) to attend the University of Miami, from which I graduated in 1952 with a BA in Speech and Radio. I joined Delta Phi Epsilon sorority my freshman year and held several elected posts including Vice President. On the UM campus I was active in student affairs - Secretary of the Junior Class.
After graduation I returned to New Jersey and got my first job at Radio Station WOND in Pleasantville just outside of Atlantic City. I was a Disc Jockey on the midnight show. After that rare (for 1952) job for a woman, I decided to move to New York City and capitalize on my radio experience. Fat chance! And there the seeds of Feminism were sewn!
I entered the secretarial world of Frederick Atkins, New York Buying Office; on to a job at Kenyon & Eckhardt advertising agency – another secretarial stint (where I was allowed to write TV commercials) and then I moved over to the client side joining the Colgate Palmolive Company as Executive Secretary. It was there I witnessed my first feminist wake-up call.. It was a NOW demonstration at company headquarters on Park Avenue . At that time, Colgate was airing anti-woman ads on TV in spite of a new law passed by Congress against such practices. I learned afterward that Barbara Love planned the demonstration, which resulted in Colgate’s immediate withdrawal of
On August 26th, 1970 I joined the exciting March for Women’s Equality in New York City… and thereafter joined NOW-New York… and the start of my feminist adventure: meeting fantastic women activists (like Jacqui Ceballos then chapter President, and Strike leader and later NOW president, Karen DeCrow), attending spirited meetings (like Midge Kovacs’ - who planned the de-sexing of the Help Wanted Column in the New York Times) , and learning about Mary Vasiliades' work organizing the first Rape Prevention Committee to change the rules of evidence regarding rape.
When I joined NOW, the meetings were held at a church on Central Park West and 72nd Street. They were the most spirited and meaningful meetings I have ever experienced. Women like Betty Friedan, Rita Mae Brown, Ivy Bottini, and so many other great activists gave voice as to how to make a better world for women.
In 1974 I was elected Chapter President. Membership increased big time! We had over 1500 members. To accommodate the unique demands of an organization fighting for women’s equality, I created events that supported the chapter’s financial needs as well as feminist philosophy . One of these events was the “Chair Commemoration.” For a donation, members selected the name of important women (alive, historical or fictional). The name chosen was then stenciled on the back of each donated chair. Every chair in that large meeting room reminded us of our mission!
I asked Saks Fifth Avenue to donate a display case to the chapter (which they did) so that we could show and sell feminist materials, memorabilia, as well as crafts made by our women … the profits from the “store” helped pay the rent, and, the cost of actions!
In December, we ran a Christmas Market. It was very festive and very popular. It gave our artists a place to sell their wares as well as a fund raising opportunity for the chapter. There were many other fund raising actions during my NOW activism. I remember *The Talent Night at Town Hall. And, the night we marched to Broadway (from a NOW Conference at an east side hotel} to protest the absence of statues commemorating women. (I later wrote the poem Statues for Women)
In 1978 I launched my own business, Elayne Snyder Speech Consultants. I’ve taught effective speaking skills in classrooms as Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University, at Fortune 500 company training sessions as Course Leader for the American Management Association, for my own client base of American companies from all over the USA, and, as a private Speech Consultant in my New York studio. Today, I am almost retired!
I’ve written four books about public speaking and contributed to several others. My first book: “Speak for Yourself with Confidence” [New American Library] is, as far as I know, the only book ever written using the feminine pronoun exclusively!] Other books: Persuasive Business Speaking” [American Management Association] and most recently on Amazon, two E-books: “How to Write a Winning Speech” and “How to Deliver a Winning Speech” My up-to-the minute web site: www.speechcoach.com tells about my business and my e-books.
Nowadays I live a full and active culture-laden life … winters at my condo in Florida, summers in New York City (and the Hamptons) … taking full advantage of both cities rich offerings and the remarkable friends, family and clients I have here, there and around the world.
· Talent Night at Town Hall - NYNOW sponsored a one time talent night, when many feminists performed Statues for Women.
Elayne's website address - www.speechcoach.com.
Contact Elayne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments to: Jacqui Ceballos email@example.com
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Statues for Women
What we did, we did
at Duffy Square
on that island in the
between blinking porno
a robber’s run from
we did a dastardly thing
a hundred of us –
maybe more than a hundred …
having marched there –
burdened, but singing
with sparklers in our hands.
We came with purpose
and permit and police.
We walked there from
from suffrage and
from out of the skin
of our private experience
to raise the statue of
a feminist high above our heads,
We watched silently
as the sculptor,
her arms around the
paper mache skirt,
shimmied up over
old Duffy’s bronze body
and gently … breathlessly
placed the hollow statue
at the crossroads of
Triumphantly stepping down,
she was arrested.
Minutes later, the statue …
Susan B. Anthony
was recklessly toppled to the ground
- stomped, kicked, crushed
and completely destroyed
by chuckling pigs.
There are, however, four, perhaps five
statues of women
still standing in the city of New York:
Joan of Arc
and Alice in Wonderland.
© Elayne Snyder February 12, 1972