“You are a nice lady, but a woman probably can’t win,” community leaders advised Rochester resident Nancy Brataas during her 1970s campaign for Minnesota State Senate. It was a common theme for women in politics at that time.
When it came to Brataas, those skeptics were right about one thing: she is a nice lady. But they were wrong about the future of women in public policy as Nancy Brataas became Minnesota's first female senator in her own right in 1975 (Laura Emilia Naplin was technically the first female senator when she filled her deceased husband’s senate seat from 1927 to 1934.) During her 17 years of service, Senator Brataas lists two of her most important legislative victories as the passing of the first Rochester local option sales tax and the positive disposition of the closed Rochester State Hospital. She also successfully recruited and championed her successor—another woman, Sheila Kiscaden. Today, she advises young people, regardless of gender, to “jump with both feet into the ocean of public affairs and civic activities.”
Hattie Mayo was a true Rochesterite. Born in Rochester on May 4, 1864 as Hattie May Damon, she was the daughter of the town jeweler, Eleazer Damon, and his wife, Caroline Warner Damon. Hattie was raised an only child when her family lost her older sister Emma.
In 1868, William Worall Mayo, father to Will and Charlie Mayo, and then a prominent member of the school board, had Rochester build the up-to-date Central School. Though only four years old, Hattie loved playing at the school and often could be seen sliding down its stone banisters. Her father decided she might as well attend the school for an education. Hattie was always a good student who loved to draw and read.
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time not so long ago in Rochester when the color of your skin determined if you could be served at a restaurant or stay at a hotel.
In the early 1940s, Rochester was basically a white man’s club.Eventually, amid the racially charged climate, something had to change—and it did—at the Avalon Hotel.
Lots of friends my age are becoming grandmothers. Since I’m too young to be one myself, I’m vicariously enjoying their excitement. Yet, none of them really look old enough either.
When I picture a grandma, I see a tall, sturdy farm woman in a flowered cotton shirtwaist and ric-rac-trimmed apron. She has tight gray curls tucked in a hair net, big magnifying eyeglasses, and lots of wrinkles, especially when she smiles.
Alice Mayo - The first lady of mayowood and unofficial hostess of Rochester and Mayo Clinic for 30 years
Alice Mayo was known for her hospitality, artistic sensibilities and her social conscience. Rochester was fortunate that the girl born Alice Varney Plank found her
Alice was born in Upper Darby Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, to Chester and Lillian Plank. In Pennsylvania, her father provided for the family as a butter and egg man. Here Alice learned ballet and horseback riding and studied art. She completed three years at the School of Design for Women, where she was studying to be a painter.