Friday, October 25, 2013
It's known as the Great Sign, and it marked the advent of the first affordable, clean, and inviting chain of motels in the United States. Kemmons Wilson and Wallace E. Johnson, both of Memphis, started the chain, and my mother was Johnson's personal accountant. She wrote the first financial statement for Holiday Inns of America, so I guess that's the only bragging rights I have.
If I could say she has a legacy, it is that she instilled in my sister, Jo Ellen, and me a great sensitivity to fairness when it comes to women in and out of the workplace.
Alice Logan drove to and from work every weekday for 42 years, a 45-minute trip, then came home to our farm and took care of our house, yard, cooking, laundry, her husband, and her kids. If she wasn't pulling weeds, scrubbing floors, or sewing, she was canning, pickling, or ironing. Her hands were never idle. When she finally sat down in the evening, she would be folding clothes, mending my dad's overalls, or shelling peas.
To this day, I tend to come to the defense of the women with whom I work, trying to show respect, support them, help them, treat them as they deserve to be treated. Mr. Johnson was good to her, mind you, but she worked in the Mad Men era where the others were concerned. I'm not fully convinced that era is over. In fact, I'm quite certain it is not.
My mother rarely took a holiday, so I don't see much having to do with holidays when I look at that sign, but I do think of her and smile. And shake my head a little.
Acrylic on canvas
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