How our lives changed 

ASAP Equipment
4730 44 St

Taylor Garages
Airport Rd
Milan, IL 61264

Michael Warner, Attorney
1600 4th Ave, Suite 410
Rock Island, IL 61201

Kansas City Life
5019 34 Ave B
Moline, IL 61265

Dr. Romeo
1705 2nd Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Morton Building
Highway 6
Atkinson, IL

Pathway Hospice
500 42
Rock Island, IL 61201

QC Carbide
1510 17 St
East Moline, IL 61244

Lyss Chiropractic
5500 30 Ave
Moline, IL 61201

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Litton Life Support
2734 Hickory Grove Rd
PO Box 4508
Davenport, IA 52808

Spencer Bros. Disposal
New Windsor, IL

Mane Designs
Viola, IL

Quad-Cities Graduate Studies Center
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Taylor Freezers 1885 Earhart Dr
Sandwich IL 60548

Milan Surplus
I-280 Exit 15
Milan, IL 61264

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home Inc.
614 Main St
Davenport, 52803

Ward Chiropractic
1802 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

Cannon Precision Manufacturing
PO Box 289
4th and Washington St
Keithsburg, IL 61442

Associated Environmental Management Services Inc
PO Box 586
1701 13 St
Viola, IL 61486

Edward Jones
1632 5th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265

Downtown Davenport Association
102 S. Harrison St.
Davenport, IA 52801

Donald J. McNeil, D.D.S.
1030 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265

Valley Dental Center
Dr. Margarida R. Laub
Route 6, Coal Valley, IL

Sylvan Learning Center
1035 Lincoln Road
Bettendorf, IA

Alleman Development Office
1103 40 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Bank of Rock Island
3730 18 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

The Bar and Stool Shoppe
842 18 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hodgson Funeral Home
608 20 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Hughes Tire & Battery
120 E 1 Ave
Milan, IL 61264

IH Missiissippi Valley Credit Union
4206 5th Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Illini Hospital
801 Hospital Rd
Silvis, IL 61282

Jerry's Market
1609 17 St
Moline, IL 61265

L & W Bedding
1211 16 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

For supporters of the ERA, the time was NOW

By Lisa Hammer, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Lisa Hammer / staff
Nita Frink was teaching at Sherrard Junior High in 1970 when she first became involved with Women for Equality. She went on to chair the committee working on passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Steve Drucker joined Quad Cities NOW in 1977 after Nita Frink, chairman of a committee working to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, asked for help.

``My arm just shot up by itself,'' Ms. Drucker said.

A panel discussion that night led to creation of the first Quad Cities Women's Center.

``I had never thought about this before in my life,'' Ms. Drucker said. ``Two or three women in the room talked about their own experiences as victims of abuse, and it was just like electricity in the room.''

Ms. Drucker spent six or seven years working on the Illinois ERA movement, which heated up as the amendment stalled a few states short of the three-fourths majority needed to ratify. Supporters believed that if Illinois approved it, other states would follow.

In early 1977, Quad Cities NOW staged a protest when then-Gov. Jim Thompson came to Moline. He said he was for it, but he wasn't helping to move it along, Ms. Drucker said.

``His security men with walkie-talkies were walking around, watching us like we were going to blow the place up,'' she said. ``It was ridiculous.''

She said Ms. Frink ``was an inspiration. She told him, `You're not doing anything to get it passed.' She had him nailed, and he couldn't deny it.''

Steve Drucker

Hannelore Huisman

David Stewart joined the National Organization for Women in 1982 and is currently Iowa president.

Linda Vermeire, above, and Judy Vrana (below) organized the first meeting of Women for Equality. 'It was time to bring the women's movement to the Quad-Cities,' Ms. Vrana said.

After the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in 1982, Ms. Drucker went back to college for a master's degree in women's studies. Then she returned to the Quad-Cities and helped start Hersong, a women's choir.

Ms. Frink remembers coming home from teaching at Sherrard Junior High School in 1970 when a neighbor invited her to a meeting with ``those women that wear those floppy hats that have buttons.''

She went to the first organizational meeting for Women for Equality and was hooked. She began spending four hours after work each day making phone calls for the ERA campaign. NOW delegations often went to Springfield to speak in favor of the ERA.

David Stewart, a social worker for the developmentally disabled, joined the local NOW in 1982, the year the ERA was defeated. He said he was impressed that the activists were ``giving up chunks of their life, literally,'' for the ERA campaign.

At his third NOW meeting he was named chapter secretary. From 1986 to '87 he was chapter president. As a man, that earned him ``mini-celebrity status for a couple seconds,'' he said.

From 1990 to 1994 he served on the national NOW board, and he currently is state president of Iowa NOW.

``I didn't join to empower myself; I joined to empower women,'' he said. ``You can read and listen to the women who talk to you, and understand, and know that oppression affects you when they pay a women less per hour and call her `the secretary,' and call him `the office coordinator.'|''

He said today's issues include abortion, equal pay, shelters, and unfair treatment in the media.

Hannelore Huisman of Rock Island became involved in NOW's work in the school system. After growing up in West Germany, she said, she was appalled at the lack of opportunity in girls' sports here. She said she talked about it with the state superintendent of schools when he came to Rock Island.

Ms. Huisman remembers attending a Rock Island School Board meeting after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was discriminatory to fire a pregnant woman. The school board was preparing to vote on a handbook which called for not retaining a teacher who was pregnant before start of the school year. She protested, and by a one-vote margin, the board voted not to adopt the policy.

She also remembers a woman mayor who was denied a credit card, and a neighbor who finally received a credit card after applying for it in her late husband's name. When Ms. Huisman applied for a car loan in her own name, her neighbors were called and asked if they knew whether her marriage was in trouble.

In some ways, the women's movement in America has been ``not too noble,'' Ms. Huisman said. ``In some ways, we are still lagging far behind. It's little consolation (that) Arab nations are far worse.''

Judy Vrana and Linda Vermiere of Davenport remember when women's groups across the country called a national women's Strike Day Aug. 26, 1970, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the legal right to vote.

In the Quad-Cities, the women's strike reportedly fizzled. ``Most female employees reported to work as usual,'' according to an article that night in The Daily Dispatch.

Two days before the strike, about 80 people attended an organizational meeting for Women for Equality.

Ms. Vrana and Ms. Vermeire helped organize that first meeting. The women and their families had a communal lifestyle and were running the Catholic Worker Movement, a hospitality house loosely affiliated with the Catholic church.

About two dozen people lived in the home, including married couples, singles, college students, and 16 children. They had a shelter and soup kitchen and were involved with the anti-war movement.

Ms. Vrana said younger women today take so much for granted. ``Their attitudes are so different than mine was at that age -- that you get married and have kids. Obviously, things have changed massively, and I think that's wonderful.''

Despite the so-called enlightened times, men always were seen as the leaders, Ms. Vrana said. ``It made me see it was time to bring the women's movement to the Quad-Cities. Two of us kind of got the thing rolling. We were the impetus for the first meeting, yes, but so many women were involved.''

That first Women for Equality meeting drew four to five times as many women as expected, Ms. Vermeire said.

``It's never been as exciting as it was those first couple of times,'' she said. ``Now we're really down to the business of it. Then it was so innocent and joyful and very, very hopeful.''

``I look back on that day, and I'm really proud of it,'' Ms. Vrana said.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.