01 April 2013

April Fools' Day 1965

The reporter or editor turned this into a fluff piece but this was actually an equal rights protest with a sense of humor. Prior to The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 a pregnant woman could, and usually would, be fired. If it didn't happen when the pregnancy was found out it would happen when it came time to give birth. Her sick leave would be denied and she would be fired for missing work. This was an April Fools' Day joke with a message.
From the Tri-City Herald (Washington), April 1, 1965 (transcription below):

Owen Hurd, Washington Public Power Supply System manager, had visions of the $122-million Hanford steam plant job being shut down today for lack of clerical help as his seven office secretaries appeared in maternity smocks, asking for "sick leave" in an April Fool gag. The non-pregnant, smock-clad women were, from left, Mrs. Carl Peterson, Mrs. Philip Seaman, Mrs. Gifford Eatmon, Mrs. Charles Ripplinger, Mrs. Norm Killman, Mrs. Montana Yates, and Mrs. Wanda Vaughn.


"Motherhood is wonderful, but this is ridiculous," murmured Owen Hurd, executive director of Washington Public Power Supply System, this morning.
He had just been hit between the eyes with the biggest shock since the WPPSS began building its $122-million atomic steam plant at Hanford.
Hurd's shock-of-a-lifetime occurred shortly after his office opened. He looked up from his desk and there stood the entire staff of seven WPPSS secretaries, all in maternity smocks and holding out applications for "sick leave."
"We're all pregnant," announced Eleanor Seamon, Hurd's private secretary. Hurd grabbed his head in desperation, struggled for breath and shouted, "H-E-L-P."
Then, in unison, the seven smock-clad secretaries chorused, "APRIL FOOL!"
Hurd said the incident gave him the biggest scare, and the biggest laugh he's had in 38 years as a public-power executive. He said if the pregnancies had been "for real," it would have shut down the project. "It takes about a pound of typing paper for every pound of steel in a hydroelectric project," he explained.
Hurd said his office crew convinced him of one thing: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Mrs. Montana Yates in the photo is my grandfather's sister. Here's a better photo of her at work:

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