Upcoming Events Listed In Old Issues Of "The Ladder," In Order Of How Badly I Wish I Could Have Attended

All event descriptions via Alexander Street Press’ searchable Ladder archives here.

Just one year ago the Daughters of Bilitis was formed. Eight women gathered together with a vague idea that something should be done about the problems of Lesbians, both within their own group and with the public.

The original idea was mainly that of providing an out let for social activities, but with discussion came broader purposes and the club was formed with a much wider scope than that originally envisioned, as can be seen from the club “Purpose” on page 4.

The eight charter members, with a constitution, by-laws and a name, started out to find more members. And this has been the biggest problem in this first year. As our President has so aptly pointed out in her message, “the Lesbian is a very elusive creature…”

And what will be the lot of the future Lesbian? Fear? Scorn? This need not be — IF lethargy is supplanted by an energized constructive program, if cowardice gives way to the solidarity of a cooperative front, if the “let Georgia do it” attitude is replaced by the realization of individual responsibility in thwarting the evils of ignorance, superstition, prejudice, and bigotry.

Tuesday, March 26 — “Monthly discussion meeting at 465 Geary Street. Kenneth C. Zwerin, attorney, will discuss the legal status of the Daughters of Bilitis and answer questions those attending may have relating to the Lesbian and the law.”

Before “be gay, do crimes,” there was Kenneth C. Zwerin.

Saturday, April 27 — “Bowling at the Sports Center, 3333 reservations by Thursday night, April 25, to Fill more 6-0404 so alleys may be reserved. You don’t have to be a professional to bowl with this group. We get them from the low 70s to the almost 300s. Come on out and join the fun.”

The bowling invitations appear in almost every issue, and more than once do the writers stress that this is becoming a regular event, repeatedly stressing the importance of calling ahead so they know just how many lanes to reserve. It’s nice to know that even in ‘57, Bay Area gays had a tough time getting a final head count before the day of.

Monday, Dec. 31 — “Come and welcome the New Year at the Daughters’ annual New Year’s Eve Party. A $1.50 donation per person will insure you a memorable evening. The place is 651 Duncan Street, the time 8:30pm. Please phone for reservations by Sunday, Dec. 30.”

An assuredly memorable evening for the low, low price of $1.50! Those who cannot afford the door charge are still welcome to attend, but the memorability of the evening can no longer be guaranteed.

“Why not circle the above dates on your calendar? It is easy to forget from issue to issue of THE LADDER just when a certain event is scheduled. By marking your calendar you'll be sure not to miss a single activity of the Daughters of Bilitis. We’d be very happy to see you at any of the gatherings. How about it?”

How about it indeed! Why not draw a circle? They’d be very happy. It’s so easy to, why not forget you mark? It’s easy to gather, and easy to miss. Forget from issue to issue. How about sure not to miss? It is easy to circle a certain event. It’s very easy to be happy of the Daughters.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 — “Panel discussion at 465 Geary St., Studio 51, at 8:15pm. Subject will be ‘What Are You Afraid Of?’, the first in a series of discussions on Lesbian fears — both real and imaginary. On the panel will be Pat Hamilton and Del Martin, Dr. Vera Plunkett will act as moderator.”

Come on in! The water’s fine! Come on in! The water’s moderated! We know you’re afraid. It’s real. We know you’re afraid. It’s in your imagination. We know you’re real. We’ve imagined it. We’re discussing it. This is the first of a series of imaginary discussions and real panels. Dr. Vera Plunkett will be there to discuss your firsts. With a name like Plunkett, how could any Lesbian, real or imagined, remain afraid for long? Act. Dr. Vera Plunkett will act.

Tuesday, June 25 — “Basil Vaerlen, psychotherapist, will lead a public discussion on ‘Is A Homophile Marriage Possible?’ at 465 Geary St. Those of you who didn’t get a chance to take Mr. Vaerlen to task after his lecture in December will have a second whack at him. Get your ammunition ready — he has!”

Ladies! Ladies, please settle down — you’ll all get a chance to brawl with Dr. Vaerlen if you line up in an orderly fashion and wait your turn.

Saturday, May 18 — “Daughters’ party celebrating the month of Taurus the bulls. At the Matador Room, 655 Duncan Street. 8:30pm. Reservations should be made to Fillmore 6-0404 by Friday, May 17. Donation is $1.50 per person.”

I don’t have anything funny to say about astrology, but I imagine this was very charming!

Tuesday, May 28 — “Public discussion meeting at 465 Geary St. will feature a debate on the controversial book We Walk Alone by Ann Aldrich.”

Embarrassingly, I thought Patricia Highsmith sometimes wrote under the name Ann Aldrich (boy, did I ever think that!!) but it was her erstwhile-girlfriend, Marijane Meaker, I was thinking of, and boy did those Daughters ever get their ammunition ready for her.

Tuesday, September 24 — “Public Discussion meeting at 465 Geary St., Studio 51 (5th floor) at 8:15pm. William Baker, national president of the American Graphological Society, will speak on ‘Handwriting As It Relates To The Personality.’”

Your handwriting says you are gay, etc; it writes itself.

Saturday, May 4 — “The Mattachine Players will present ‘The Reluctant Dragon,’ a puppet play based upon the Kenneth Grahame fairy tale, at 8pm. at the Friends’ Society auditorium, 1830 Sutter Street. Tickets are $1.00 and may be obtained at the Mattachine Society office, 693 Mission Street. Audience is limited to 100.”

I would pay every dollar I have to have seen this. The reluctant dragon!!! The Mattachine Players! The gay puppeteers and the all-lesbian audience members who support them financially! 69(3) Mission Street! This event really had it all.

Thursday, August 1 — “Panel discussion. Another ‘Battle of the Sexes’ between members of the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis. Mattachine monthly meeting, 1830 Sutter Street. 8pm.”

It’s the blasé “Another” that does it for me – the idea that these boxing matches have become so frequent as to become commonplace between those old-timey homophiles. “Never mind, I’ll catch the next swan boat for the 10pm show.”

“What’s on this Thursday?”

“More twink-boxing with the boys from the Mattachine Society. Ho-hum.”

“Ah, well, there’s nothing good on TV tonight anyways. Might as well oil up and see how many of the boys we can take down before bowling.”

In conclusion, thank you lesbians, let’s go lesbians.

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Things I've Said To My Dogs That Could Double As Lines From A Tightly-Wound Woman In A Tennessee Williams Play

[After declining to sit on command at the park on the corner] Now you’ve embarrassed me in front of all of my friends.

[After removing a Warhammer miniature from one of their mouths] You don’t understand that this is beautiful and easily broken. Easily broken, but deadly difficult to repair. You need a special glue for it.

[Upon presenting them with a squeaky toy I normally keep hidden in the Dog Cabinet] Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am no cheap stage magician, who gives you illusions with the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of magic.

[On account of they stop and try to go in every apartment entrance we walk past because they don’t remember where we live] Whatever you’re looking for isn’t here, boys. We don’t live there.

[When they wake up at 6am and start jumping on me] This hour isn’t civilized.

[When they resume jumping on me at 6:05am] Can’t you see you’re killing me?

[When the littlest one disgraces my nicest rug because he is only three months old] I am disappointed, but I am not discouraged. Being disappointed is one thing, and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed. But I am not discouraged. [Scrubbing furiously] I don’t expect you to care about the things that matter to me.

[When the littlest one growls at strange dogs on on leash even though his older brother never growls] There is nothing the matter with him. Why don’t you get to know him? Everybody has problems, not just you. Why not be friendly? Life is already a series of degradations and unnecessary difficulties. Why add to them?

Most lives — what are they but trails of debris, each day more debris, more debris, long, long trails of debris, with nothing to clean it all up in the end but death.

[When they settle onto my legs before bed] You love me just a little bit more than you love the others, don’t you? You’re right to. I’m the one you can really count on. I’m the one who feeds you.

[At the dog park, when the one who hasn’t been fixed yet takes a shine to someone] Don’t you understand? I was PROCURING for him!

Not Yet Grizzled – Still A Sea Captain

The life of a sea captain’s never been an easy one. Oh, I get mad as a hen-turtle thinking about all those music-hall wax hits making it out to be such a lark. “Jenny Won’t You Come Be A Sea Captain With Me (It’s Easy In July),” “Put Down Your Coal And Sail,” “Pack Up Your Troubles Behind The Mast,” “Why Won’t You Go To Sea, Papa,” “I’m Afraid To Come Home In The Dark Unless There’s A Lighthouse On,” and “Oh! It’s Awfully Jolly To Captain A Ship With You” make all the stage-door swells and Salvation Army Johnnies rush out to the nearest inlet with a broom and an ash-pan, trying to harness the wind with their belts, but how many of them would top the binnacle if they knew just how many years it takes before grizzling sets in? Who minds the pale young sea captain? No one at sea, not from bobstay to bolt-rope, and it’s a mighty long way from pale to grizzled, even with the bite of the salt spray to help you along.

There’s not a sea captain alive would call any man grizzled before fifty, and some not even then. First you’re fresh, then pale, then a pink-and-white, then green, then sage-green, then jaundiced, then keen, then tinder-fresh, then seasoned, hard, midship-hard, sea-hard, salt-hard, deep-hard, dead-hard, keel-hard, then Hank, then Easterly Bob, then tidemaster, then quartermaster, then half-master, then mizzenmaster, then shoeleather, then salt-dog, then salty seadog, then old salty seadog, and then, if you’re lucky, you’re grizzled. Before that, you’d better not even think about trying to take your meals in the captains’ mess – they’ll laugh you right out of the room, and the laughter of a bunch of grizzled old sea captains sounds like a dozen rusted-over buzzsaws. I know. I’ve heard it.

Oh, it’s difficult being a young sea captain, without a grizzle to my hair, a salt streak to my beard, or a rash to my name. The other sea captains don’t respect me. Oh, they say they do, but they certainly don’t mean it, and they’ve certainly never said it. Just look at all the ranks a sea captain’s got to go through before anyone will even think about calling him grizzled:

  • Lubberswain

  • Focs’l

  • Lad boy

  • By-an’-larger

  • Deck’un

  • Deck’le

  • Young seatit

  • Tiggs Cunningham

  • Jiblet Davy-Drop

  • Drifter

  • Dr. Schoon

  • Fish-Lieutenant

  • Yardman

  • Cap’n

  • Nautical Cap’n

  • Company Cap’n

  • Capt’n

  • Ol’ Ox-Eye

  • Quarter-Captain

  • Grizzled

Some of the boys try to paint on an extra layer of salt-crust when they’re in port, in the hopes of bypassing a stage or two. Everyone can tell, and it’s awfully embarrassing. I wish they wouldn’t do it. It always means at least another six months of getting called “Captain Short Pants” by all the other fellows. Gosh, I wish they’d let me on the boat.

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“In her well-researched account of Harlow’s life and work, '“Love at Goon Park,'“ Deborah Blum describes how Harlow removed newborn infants from their mothers and housed them with surrogate mothers, some made of terry cloth and some of wire. When exposed to a moving toy or a strange room, babies with cloth mothers rushed to them, buried their faces in the soft fabric and relaxed. Their peers, with only wire mothers, shook in terror against the wall. Left alone for months with only wire mothers, they pined away, staring at the world with lifeless eyes, like my orphaned baboon.” (NY Times, 2003.)

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