Saturday, October 18, 2008

Superwomen # 3 (a different kind).

Continuing an earlier theme (from here and here): Superwomen come in many guises, they are/were not necessarily beacons to light the way for other women, or doers of heroic deeds, some did what they did simply in order to provide for their families. Occasionally this came about in ways not "nice" for a female, ways considered scandalous in the parlours of America's eastern states. Some women discovered they had skills normally reserved for the males of their time and put them to good use. Stepping out of the norm for one's era is, in my book, the basic factor in a superwoman blueprint. Here are two women who I consider earned the title.

These two ladies didn't comply with the norm for women of their times, but each in their own way overcame male domination, without the backing of feminist groups or public opinion. Their determination arose from an inner driving force. One had a cluster of planets in Aquarius, the other a cluster in Leo. One had a clever mind, quick enough to out-think her male opponents, the other a steady hand, a good eye, and a talent for show-biz.

1. ~~~~Poker Alice, a female gambling legend of old frontier days in America.

There's confusion about Alice's year of birth (1851 or 1853) and place of birth -England or Virginia USA, to Irish parents. From whichever side of the Atlantic she originated, it appears that Alice Ivers accompanied her family at some point in early life to Colorado where she later married a mining engineer, Frank Duffield, from whom she learned to play poker. She was an intelligent lass and soon got the hang of things, probably good looking enough to turn the heads of male poker players too! Frank was killed in a mining accident, and Alice took up a career on the poker and faro tables of the west. In New Mexico, she broke the bank at one of the saloons, and the dealer was forced to close the game. She became a local legend. Alice's winnings at the table are fabled to have reached as much as $6,000 in one night. Alice once claimed that she had won more than $250,000 gambling over the years and that she never once cheated. Both of these claims are probably true. Poker Alice didn't have to cheat. She knew how to count cards.

Alice re-married, had 7 children but was left a widow again in 1910, and she marrried yet again. Her third husband died after just three years of marriage. She went on to open a brothel, and during a skirmish there accidentally killed a man with a stray rifle shot. She was arrested but later released. Many arrests for drunkenness and keeping a disorderly house followed in subsequent years. Her days of glamour and success waned in later life. She died following a gall bladder operation on 27 February 1930.
Story in more detail

For a brief look at Alice's natal chart, to acertain position of planets in signs, the year of birth is more important than the exact place of birth. 1851 or 1853? Whichever date is correct the constant factors are Sun, Mercury, Mars and possibly Venus, all in Aquarius. Quirky, independent Aquarius is the key. How different Alice was from most of her contemporaries, what a rebel from the norm! What a novel way she found to use her quick, incisive Aquarian mind! There's no doubt at all that Alice "followed a different drummer".

After looking at various aspects in the different charts (more detail in my earlier post about her here) I'd bet that Poker Alice was born in Virginia 17 February 1853, and that she decided to spread tales of her English origins in an attempt to intrigue others at the poker tables. A bit of early PR work!
Photograph courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society.

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2. ~~~Annie Oakley (real name Phoebe Ann Mosey )

Annie possessed a talent unusual in women of her era - sharpshooting. Using a .22 caliber rifle at 90 feet (27 m), she was said to be able split a playing card edge-on and put five or six more holes in it before it touched the ground.

Her skill propelled her to superstardom in the USA. She took part in touring Wild West shows, exhibitions and set many records, continuing into her 60s. She also engaged in extensive, albeit quiet, philanthropy for women's rights and other causes, including the support of specific young women that she knew. After her death, at age 66, it was discovered that her entire fortune had been spent on her family and her charities.

Born 13 August 1860 (time given by Astrotheme 12.01pm) in Willowdale, Ohio.
she had four personal planets in show-bizzy Leo, with Venus in Cancer opposing Mars in Capricorn. Venus opposing Mars symbolises feminine versus masculine - her femininity and diminutive size (just 5 ft tall) taking on what was then a very masculine occupation, via show business.

In a stage musical and movie based on Annie's story there's a song, directed at her male companion, appropriate for all superwomen, through the ages. The opening lines:

"Anything you can do, I can do better
I can do anything better than you.........."

Women everywhere, other than those of the super variety, have really only ever wanted the opportunity to compete on equal terms with their male counterparts. Some women might prove to be better in their chosen field, others might not - opportunity is all !

Here, Ruthie Henshall and John Barrowman sing the song:


R J Adams said...

Alice looked a real cutie!


anthonynorth said...

These are women from whom legends are born. And those legends certainly inspire. It's what they're for, of course.

Twilight said...

RJ ~~~~ Good point, it alerted me to the fact that I'd forgotten to post an earlier portrait of Alice - which is now rectified! :-)

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Agreed!

And I think that all the female pioneers who travelled across the country in the 19th century, by wagon train with their families, facing unimaginable difficulty and danger, deserve to be legends - even those whose names we'll never know.