60 Seconds – Don’t Let Them Tell You “No!”
by Diane Wyzga | July 2, 2020 | 60 Seconds, Podcast | 0 comments
Coming to you from Whidbey Island, Washington this is 60 Seconds, your daily dose of hope, imagination, wisdom, stories, practical tips and general riffing on this and that.
Charley Parkhurst moved from Rhode Island to San Francisco in 1851, at about age 40. Having exceptional skill with horses Charley hired on as a whip or stage coach driver with Wells Fargo & Co. working some of the wildest boom towns and most treacherous routes in California.
Charley’s style was a little unusual for a whip: clean shaven, leather gloves worn summer and winter, pleated shirt, and boots with elevated heels. Folks figured that coming from Back East Charley was a bit of a dandy with high-toned ideas. But dandy or not Charley took no guff from anyone, battled bandits, drank and smoked and gambled with the best of them.
Charley made a name as one of the greatest and most fearless of California stage coach drivers with a four-or-six in hand before finally retiring to a cattle ranch and dying from cancer in 1879.
Come to find out, death told the story. Charley was born Charlotte Parkhurst in New Hampshire, left in an orphanage, escaped, dressed as a boy, learned to handle horses, drove stage coach, worked as a lumber jack, and voted in a Presidential election some 50 years before women were given the right to vote.
Practical Tip: Don’t let them tell you you can’t do something just because you’re a girl.
Post Script: Even in the 19th century there was admiration for Parkhurst’s feat of disguise. “The only people who have occasion to be disturbed by the career of Charley Parkhurst are the gentlemen who have so much to say about ‘woman’s sphere’ and ‘the weaker vessel,’ ” The Providence, R.I. Journal wrote. “It is beyond question that one of the soberest, pleasantest, most expert drivers in this State, and one of the most celebrated of the world-famed California drivers was a woman. And is it not true that a woman had done what woman can do?”
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Production Team: Quarter Moon Story Arts
Music: Mer’s Waltz from Crossing the Waters by Steve Schuch & Night Heron Music
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Diane F. Wyzga, Podcaster, Story Artist, Critical Listening Coach
Steve Schuch & Night Heron Music