Burning Our Bras in Dad’s Outdoor Grill

Kathi, MB, Susan Lake Fairfax

Spring of 1971. My sister was fourteen and I was nineteen. I’d been taking classes at NOVA community college. Kathie was in the last stretch of her sophomore year at Langley High school.

She was Obsessed with Helen Reddy’s new hit “I Am Woman.” Marching around the two storey house, she sang at the top of her lungs:

I am Woman hear me Roar!”

With long, thick dark blonde hair, and glittering hazel eyes, Kathi looked like a lion.

In numbers too big to ignore!!”

I flung open my bedroom door.

Could you shut up for One minute! Or go outside and sing. I’m studying for history finals!”

Kathi’s answer was loud, “And I come back Even Stronger!”

AAAHH!” It was hard for me to read and listen to music at the same time but I turned my radio on full blast. The DJ at WHFS announced “The Wind Cries Mary.”
I lay down on my bed and tried to make sense of Lenin’s Manifesto of the Workers’ Duma.

Kathi opened my door “I’m still an Embryo, with a Long Long way to GO!”

An Embryo? That is the weirdest song lyric I’ve ever heard.” I laughed, imagining embryos marching in the streets of America’s cities.

I read aloud at the top of my lungs, in the tune of Reddy’s song:

The proletariat has proven
Its ability to Fight!
Now it musters might
to launch 
a determined struggle!”

We both burst out laughing. “Your song is more fun than this crud.”

Kathi got one of her brain storms. “Let’s burn our bras!!”

What a radical idea! The peasantry shall Rise!”

We both flung off our t-shirts, ripped off our brassieres, put our t-shirts back on and ran downstairs.

Kathi dashed to Dad’s ultra-neat workbench and grabbed a tin of starter fluid. I found the charcoal where it always was, items stored in alphabetical order on a shelf.

We ran out into the back yard, removed the cooking grate. I dumped charcoal into the grill and Kathi squirted out lighter fluid.

Wait! We need matches.”

I got it covered,” my sister said.

Kathi had convinced Mom and Dad to give up smoking that year. She’d put up signs all over the house “smoking kills” and “Live to see your grandchildren!” Then she, always a study in contradiction, took up the habit. My sister was never without a pack of Kools and a box of matches.

Whomp! The briquettes began to flame. We threw our butterfly and flower-patterned bras onto the fire. Following Kathi’s lead, I marched—knees high—to the Womens’ Battle Song.


Mom opened the back door and stepped out onto the redwood deck my brother and father had built the previous summer.

What on Earth are you two up to?”

Kathi and I raised our fists high. “Women’s Lib! Sufferage!” We yelled.

We’re Free, Mom, Free from the tyranny of bourgeoisie brassieres!” I shouted.

My sister and I fell into the soft, green grass and rolled around with uncontrollable laughter.

Mother raced down the stairs and unsucessfully tried to pluck our bras out of the charred mess with her bare hands. “Dammit to hellfire!”

You two will go to Sears This Minute. You will use your own money. You will buy new bras and get home to clean the bathrooms. As Per!”

Mom’s admonition “as per” always cracked us up.

As per the Czarina, we shall henceforth repair ourselves to the Peasants’ Marketplace.” I gasped out between guffaws.

At Sears, we picked out the wildest bras we could find. Mine was a violent fuschia with lace over it. Kathi’s was a black push-up affair.

When we got home, we went into Kathi’s bedroom, laughing at our revolutionary plot.

Mom was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. We entered, bras prominently displayed over our t-shirts, and saluted her.

As Per!” we both shouted, then ran to our chosen bathrooms, locked the doors and began scrubbing with Comet and toothbrushes, penance for our anarchistic acts.

Author: dixiewriter

Due to my father's job as an explorer/cartographer, my family moved 48 times before I turned 13. We lived where Dad worked: on mountain tops (in park ranger cabins), in deserts, swamps, along coastlines from Maine to Key West & other wild places. My father mapped parts of Antarctica, living there for 8 months in 1961-62. A mountain peak & a glacier are named after him (William C. Elder, USGS) As an adult, I helped Lars Eric Lindblad (then president of World Wildlife) find out about the migration path of Silverback gorillas (from Tanzania into Kenya). On my information, he chose to move Lindblad Travel's photographic safari camps to accommodate these wonderful creatures. I got a Jimmy Carter grant to teach after I graduated from Madison College. Grantees had to sign up to teach for at least a year in a severely impoverished school anywhere in America. I taught for 3 & 1/2 years in SW Virginia near Bluegrass Central (Galax, VA). I taught 7th-9th grade English, Drama, Journalism. I was the forensics coach. Moved to Connecticut & worked for Lars Lindblad, typing up the manuscript for his autobiography, working with Liz & John Fuller on this book. (They co-wrote "Ghost of Flight 415" & other books about unusual phenomenon. Moved to Colorado in 1982. Worked as "gal friday" for 12 detectives at the Boulder Police Dept. Set up files for DA to use in court amongst other things. Then at a law firm. Next, CU/Boulder for 10 years. At CU, workers could take a free course each semester. So I did 5 Master's levels courses in special ed' & many in creative writing/history/religion & other subjects at the Master's level. I taught "Drama for the Disabled" in Boulder, CO after the teacher had to quit due to health issues. It was wonderful! My last 7 years working, I helped adults/teens/children with various brain differences such as autism. I was diagnosed at age 45 with 3 types of seizures, manic depression (atypical, rarely depressions, mostly manias), OCD & PTSD. At age 67 (!!) this diagnosis was changed. The manias are most likely due to temporal lobe "disturbance." The other symptoms are due to "high functioning" autism or Asperger's. Shock!! I do Tai Chi 3x/day which helps me to calm down. My husband & I work out at a gym 3-5 times/week for balance mostly but also weight training, running etc. We climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain High places (like Long's Peak & Maroon Bells) in summertime/autumn. We love archaeology, so when we travel, it's in order to discover ancient sites. My husband is an actor with a "day job." He has performed in shows with Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof, the road show), Dick van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Firesign Theatre/John Goodman/Annette Bening et al. (Wizard of Oz/radio show) & many other wonderful people since age 14. We have traveled to: Iceland, Scotland (twice), Germany (3 times to visit friends), Ireland & fascinating places in America. We usually spend a month when we travel. So we go about every 5-6 years. Otherwise, we stay at home in a town in Colorado, attending Poetry sessions, working in local theater, enjoying our shelter rescue cats, writing, painting & dancing.

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