|Rose dreamed she was walking, parading through a steely gray
day that stole the colors from all things. Around her women walked, their backs ram-rod
straight, defiant, but Rose found herself glancing nervously about. Everywhere she looked
into the pressing crowd she saw Cal
there! next to that lamppost, and
there! in that window high above the avenue, and isn't that Mother, looking down from that
And she found herself pulling her hat down low, trying to fade into the
black and white. They walked on in silence, the path uphill, always uphill, and in every
shadow Rose sensed discovery. Then she turned to her right and Jack was walking with her,
his eyes shot with light, and he was sketching furiously, charcoal flying so fast she
couldn't make out his hands, and in every place that Rose saw lifeless gray Jack drew, in
colors magically rendered, brightness and warmth and dazzling sunshine.--------------
Saturday, the 4th of
May, came to New York on a whisper. The winds of spring stopped their dance, the clouds
respectfully demurred, and the sun smiled down so regally that, if betting on such a thing
were deemed proper, one would have been smart to wager that God was a woman.
Rose's thoughts had been bouncing
to-and-fro as she prepared for work. The previous afternoon, when Gina had told her that
she wouldn't be able to accompany her on the parade, Rose had been disappointed, but also
strangely relieved. Gina was nebulous about her reasons, and Rose had briefly felt the
urge to insist but she couldn't generate any fervor. Now, Rose once again leaned towards
not joining the march.
What's wrong with me? she
thought. I know I should care but my heart just isn't in it. This used to seem so
important but now I can't help but think, 'Why bother?' Was I always so close to falling into apathy? Me, who
people called 'bull-headed'?
Rose walked the few blocks to work
and found Gina waiting at the factory entrance, her hands hidden behind her. As Rose
neared, Gina pulled a bright yellow hat from behind her back and placed it on her head,
modeling it proudly.
"Well, what do you
"Gina, you mean you're going
"Yes, I'm parading with
Yellow was the suffrage movement's
adopted color and marchers had been requested to display it prominently.
"I'm not sure I want to go
now," Rose said.
Gina's face clouded.
"Why not?" she asked.
"I don't know; I just don't
have the desire."
"Come on, Rose. We can shop
after work and walk down to the park and have a great day to ourselves."
Rose had to admit it sounded
"What about Anthony?"
"Oh, don't worry about him.
I'm free all day."
Rose could feel her emotions
swaying once again. She pulled open the factory door for Gina, her mind considering the
bright-ribboned hat, the beautiful sunshine, and the prospect of spending a lazy afternoon
with her friend.
"All right. Let's
The two spent the afternoon
popping in and out of shops as they worked their way down Sixth Avenue towards the
parade's starting point. Gina's enthusiasm for shopping was infectious, and soon she and
Rose were trying on garments with abandon, alternately complimenting and laughing at each
other's appearance. But, save for an oversized sunburst of a hat for Rose, they left the
As they neared the park Rose
noticed more and more women strolling about, holding impromptu discussions or simply
greeting friends, most adorned proudly in yellow.
It looks as if there will be a
fine turnout, she mused.
After the shops closed for the
day, Rose and Gina decided to have an early dinner at a tavern off 8th Street
and were shown to a table amid much bustle.
They quickly made their selections
and placed an order with their waiter. Gina took the opportunity to turn in her seat and
gaze around the room. A wide grin spread across her face.
"This is great! We should
spend a day like this more often."
"I haven't had an afternoon
like this in a long time," Rose agreed. She truly couldn't remember the last time she
had spent a day idly shopping with a girlfriend.
"How come you aren't with
Anthony today?" Rose asked.
"We had a bit of a row last
night, so I told him I had important things to do tonight, like marching."
"Hmm....You've known him a
Gina swung back around in her seat
and took a sip of her beer.
"Anthony? About five years,
on and off, I guess. He went to school with my brother; that's how we met."
"Where does he work?"
Her answer was cut short by a
woman's voice shouting across the room in recognition.
"Gina! What are you doing
A blonde young woman approached
"Amanda! I'm here with my
friend Rose, to march of course!"
Rose shook hands politely with the
woman, who nodded graciously.
Amanda asked as she scanned the area.
"Don't know. Maybe at the
Amanda was framing a reply when an
insistent call came for her from her party.
"Sorry, gotta go. Maybe I'll
see you later," she said, and she left with a quick wave for them both.
"Amanda works with me at the
Rose furrowed her brow, thinking
she had perhaps heard Gina incorrectly over the loud conversations crisscrossing the room.
"Is that 'wurst' as in the
Gina laughed out loud.
"I never thought of that! No,
it's 'worst' as in 'terrible'."
"Why in the world is it
Gina tilted her head and waggled a
finger in Rose's direction.
"You'll just have to come
sometime and find out, now won't you?"
Their conversation was stopped in
its tracks by the delectable aroma of their dinner as it was set on the table. Rose
realized that she hadn't eaten all day, and she dug in with relish.
"When I first met you, you
said Anthony was your ex-boyfriend," Rose said, after the main courses had been
"Yes, it's sometimes on,
"Does he treat you
"Oh, yes, just fine,"
Gina answered, a bit too quickly. "We fight sometimes, but I don't know what I'd do
Why does that sound so
well-rehearsed? Rose thought.
"What sort of things do you
two do together?" she asked.
"Well, we have parties with
his friends, ride around the city in his auto, go to dinner with his family; that sort of
"What about your family and
Gina was quiet for a moment, eyes
"Oh, I don't really have much
.What about your family, Rose?"
Rose was aware that Gina was
trying to change the subject, but she couldn't very well be upset at the attempt seeing as
she'd done the very same thing during numerous conversations in the past few weeks.
"I have no family left,"
was all Rose would offer.
Gina looked at her in silence.
Rose felt ashamed at being so secretive with her friend but she had resolved never to tell
anyone what had transpired on Titanic.
Rose smiled broadly.
"Now YOU are my friend and
family," she continued, and Gina gave an answering grin and nod.
"To family and friends!"
Gina offered in toast, and they clinked glasses.
"It's getting near
five," Rose noted, and they left the tavern to walk the final few blocks to
Washington Square Park. Sixth Avenue was clogged with people heading towards the parade,
and vehicle traffic was at a standstill.
As crowded as the streets were,
Rose wasn't prepared for the sight of the massive throng filling the park. As she and Gina
turned east on 6th Street to enter the park fringe, she stopped in her tracks.
Washington Square was a literal
sea of women, the majority dressed in white with yellow accessories. The crush of humanity
milled around, ebbing and flowing about the grounds, their voices creating a wall of
noise. Here and there, bands rehearsed their musical numbers, the notes crashing against
each other above the din. Policemen on horseback tried to re-route traffic around the
park, but the overflow of people spilled out on to nearby streets, defeating their best
efforts. Most drivers had finally become resigned to their fate and parked their vehicles,
deciding to watch or join in the festivities.
Rose and Gina wound their way
towards the center of the park, near the great fountain, where parade organizers were
desperately attempting to put some order to the chaos.
"Is this what you were
expecting?" Gina asked, raising her voice to be heard.
Rose shook her head, her eyes
wide. The scene gave her goose bumps.
"I don't think anyone was
expecting this. This is wonderful!"
Gina yanked on Rose's arm and
pointed to the northern park entrance leading up onto Fifth Avenue. Police were trying to
blaze a path for a group of perhaps fifty women who had mounted horses and begun circling,
waiting for clearance. Several of the riders waved to the crowd as they paced, and the
women around them applauded enthusiastically.
"Who are they?" Gina
Rose shrugged her shoulders. She
had read a little about the march in the previous day's newspaper and thought she might
recall the names of a few of the riders, but they were too far away to recognize.
An elderly woman had been standing
alongside them, also gazing towards the equestrians. She had obviously overheard Gina's
"Girls! Haven't you been
keeping up with the papers?" she asked.
"No, Ma'am," Gina
replied, her voice mischievously childlike. Rose gave her a soft poke, out of sight. The
"Shame on you. We must become
informed citizens, all of us, if we are to have the vote. Do you see the young woman at
the front of that group? That's Inez Milholland. She is intelligent, highly educated, well
connected and determined that we women should have this right. And since men are so
predictable, she has another quality that is important in getting them to pay attention:
she's beautiful. She has become a symbol of sorts for this parade - the model of the
modern woman. Riding next to her is Mrs. Belmont. She's very upper crust, if you know what
I mean. The other riders are the leaders of the Women's League."
Rose noticed several dozen women
break from an intense meeting just behind the horsewomen. They quickly dispersed into the
crowd, fanning out into the corners of the park grounds. One approached the area where
Rose and Gina stood, climbed atop a bench, and yelled for the attention of the area
"Ladies! The parade will be
beginning shortly. We ask that you all march four abreast. We will break the line now and
then to allow the bands and banner-bearers to join in."
As she finished, as though on cue,
the bells of the church steeples bracketing the park began to toll out the hour. As the
fifth peel faded away dozens of whistles blew, drawing everyone's attention to the Fifth
Avenue entrance. In the sudden lull a song was struck up, and the mounted women began to
wind their way out of the park and into the late afternoon shadows of the city's
The parade vanguard was met by a
storm of photographer's flashes as the press documented the moment for the whole nation.
Rose could hear the familiar strains of "What Am I Going To Do To Make You Love
Me" being played by the lead band.
Women in the eastern and western
ends of the park began to converge towards the center but the flow leaving the grounds was
so slow that the crush became intense. Rose and Gina were forced to stand in place for
nearly a half hour before the crowd immediately in front of them started to slowly ease
forward and they were able to begin walking, finally emerging from the environs of the
park at a quarter to six.
The line of women already
stretched before them as far as the eye could see and, looking back, Rose noted several
thousand still taking formation behind them. She felt her heart swell with pride at the
turnout: a line miles long comprised of actresses, teachers, students, businesswomen,
nurses, clerks, tearoom girls, tavern workers, typists, factory workers, housewives, and
more, all united for one cause.
The marchers tried to maintain a
serious demeanor, but many waved to the crowd and smiled politely at hecklers. The size of
the crowd along the avenue astonished Rose as well; people were lined ten deep in places
attempting to get a look at the parade. Some hung out windows or on balconies of the
buildings along the route and a brave few even scampered up light poles, opting for a
bird's eye view. The city itself was respectfully quiet; a Saturday evening quiet, when
the sounds of the growing metropolis halted for a brief respite.
The going became slow after ten
blocks or so and the marchers began to stack up. Gina decided to look ahead by breaking
rank and scooting out wide of the line.
"I can't really see the
problem but the crowd is spilling far out into the roadway ahead," she reported.
Indeed, at Union Square the
onlookers were so numerous that they choked the parade from both sides until there was
only enough room for two marchers to pass through at once. The mixed crowd there was
mostly enthusiastic in their response.
Once past the square, the pace
quickened again but then the heckling started in earnest. A few of the banners attracted
snide remarks from some in the crowd. The marchers had done an admirable job thus far,
Rose thought, of ignoring the shouts of nay-sayers along the way, but the avenue here was
lined with many taverns and men's clubs. The patrons within, their interest piqued, left
their beers and whiskeys sitting jilted on the tables and flowed out of the doors to grab
a vantage point for the parade.
"Boilermakers!" one man
yelled at them.
"You should be makin dinner
right now!" another added.
"Go home and do the
A brave marcher walked over to one
of the loudest of the hecklers and made him a present of a long yellow streamer. His
cronies howled with delight at her action, temporarily directing their comments to their
friend's manhood. Soon, any adverse shouts were met with offers of dozens of yellow
Rose and Gina had a fine laugh at
all this but for Rose the chauvinistic attitude of some of the men bothered her fiercely.
You would think in this modern
day and age they would FINALLY accept women's rights as proper, she thought. Some
people are very slow to change.
A particularly snooty voice boomed
at the women from a first floor window.
"Well, where are yer
Almost as though listening to
someone else's words, and despite her earlier decision to remain as invisible as possible
during the march, Rose heard her own voice responding.
"Well, sir, where are
Her comment really caused a
ruckus. It surprised the man, whose face soon wrote a new definition of 'crimson'. A few
of the women around Rose gave her looks of disapproval but others patted her roundly on
the back, as they had so often seen the men do to congratulate one another's mastery of
the world. Perhaps in response to her comment, the band marching directly behind them
began to play "Some Of These Days You're Gonna Miss Me, Honey," and even some of
the men in the crowd laughed and applauded at the apt choice.
Gina tapped Rose on the arm and
pointed to a pair of ambulances parked on one of the cross streets.
"Wonder what those are
for?" she asked.
"They think we women are to
fragile to walk all this way!" Rose answered. "I read that last year they had
them at almost every corner, expecting us to drop like flies."
"Let them spend a day sewing
and cooking and cleaning and doing laundry, then see what they think," Gina said with
They marched northward as the
streetlights lining the avenue flickered on and the sky went from salmon to deep blue. As
they passed 34th street, Rose glanced over at the lights of the Waldorf,
remembering back to her first few days and nights in New York.
Gina noted the direction of Rose's
"That's the Waldorf. I've
been in the lobby once, it's clas-sy! I could die happy if I had the chance to stay there
even one night of my life."
Rose scarcely heard Gina's
comments. Her emotions suddenly went heavy and her mind stretched down the street to the
bank where the 'Heart of the Ocean' lay like a pariah at the bottom of her safety deposit
box. A flash of her previous night's dream came to her thoughts and she wondered if she
would be marching in this same march if Jack had lived.
She was startled out of her
reverie by a woosh of flames just ahead of her. Marchers had been handed torches at
intervals along the column and they were now being lit. The string of torchlights seemed
to stretch the length of Manhattan, with those at the limits of vision blurring into the
dusty haze ever present in the city air.
"How many women do you
suppose are marching?" Gina asked.
Rose did a quick estimate in her
"I would guess about ten
Gina was duly impressed. The next
day's newspapers would reveal that the number was actually more than fifteen thousand.
The band nearest them had launched
into a rendition of "Oh, You Beautiful Doll". As Rose turned to Gina to make a
comment about the music she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, a photographer step
forward out of the crowd to frame Gina and her in his viewfinder.
Rose quickly pulled the brim of
her hat down, her hand helping to cover her face just as the magnesium flash flared
bright. Gina shot Rose a puzzled look, but her attention was quickly diverted to yet
another drunk heckler making a fool of himself and his gender.
The populace along the route then
thinned out considerably until they approached the rally point at the southern end of
Central Park. There, the women who had completed their march became themselves the
audience, lining the street and applauding loudly for the members of the Men's League for
Women Suffrage, over 600 strong, who brought up the rear of the parade.
Speeches were scheduled to follow,
but Rose and Gina had had a long day and they resolved to head home.
"That was quite a walk for
the cause but I think for our OWN cause we might ride the El back downtown," Rose
"My feet believe in your
cause, Rose Dawson," Gina answered with a laugh.
"And my tired calves second
the motion," Rose added.
The streets in the area of the
rally were clogged with people, forcing them to sidestep and circle often as they worked
their way westward to Sixth Avenue. The transit authority had added a few extra trains but
not nearly enough, so there was still a queue at the El station. They took their place in
line, passing the time by admiring the fireworks being sent soaring skyward from the
They were deep into a discussion
of the day's events and were about to begin the climb up the stairway to the train
platform when a hand grasped Gina's arm and spun her around.
"I thought I might find you
"Anthony! What are you doing
"I should be asking YOU
Anthony fingered the ribbons on
"A suffragette now, are
Gina looked uncertain how to
answer so Rose spoke up.
"I asked Gina to walk with
me. I'm new to the city and I was a bit fearful of marching alone."
Rose extended her right hand.
"I'm Rose Dawson. Pleased to
He ignored her gesture, and Rose
pulled her hand back, embarrassed.
"I know who you are," he
responded with some venom.
Rose nearly replied in kind but
thought better of it for her friend's sake. Anthony returned his attention to Gina.
"I wonder if your friend here
knows who YOU are?"
responded, obviously distraught.
"Come on, Gina, let's go. I'm
taking you home," Anthony insisted.
Gina looked nervously from Anthony
to Rose and back. This surprised Rose; Gina had never before been anything but coolly
composed in her presence.
"I have to accompany
Rose," Gina stammered.
Anthony tugged a bit harder at her
"Rose is a big girl, she can
get home by herself."
Rose was alarmed by Anthony's
actions and was concerned what he might do if Gina didn't agree to go along with him. She
also worried what he would do if she DID.
"It's okay, Gina. I'll be all
right," she offered.
Gina turned to her with what Rose
took to be a look of resignation, often worn. Anthony finally succeeded in getting Gina
"There, you see. Rose says
she'll be all right," he said, more poison lacing his voice.
Rose turned and started up the
steps to the train. She looked back over her shoulder and had to resist the urge to bound
back down the stairs and run to her friend's aid. Gina glanced back at her and waved a
Maybe I should have said
something, done something, Rose thought as she took the flight of stairs. Anything.
She looked out from the platform
railing, watching the figures of Gina and Anthony disappearing into the distance. She
turned and leaned back against the cool metal, closing her eyes.
But what could I do? Is it my
place? I don't really know their situation well enough, even though I feel I do. Gina
doesn't need me to protect her; no one can help her if she won't help herself. But if she
asks, I will try.
She opened her eyes, fuming about
what she had just seen.
Anthony reminds me a lot of
someone I know, Rose thought, a little of her own venom escaping.