Some people are just plain born with moxie.
Meet Elizabeth "Betta" Dixon MacCarthy Ehrenfeld , who left her hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1942, at the age of 16, got on a train -- by herself -- and headed north. Her first stop was Bronxville, N.Y., and Sarah Lawrence College. By the time she was barely 21 she had a law degree from Yale. Back then, women with law degrees were considered top candidates for legal secretarial work. But Betta would have none of that. She went on to practice copyright law, then worked as a Legal Aid Society lawyer.
Betta died in January 2019, at age 92. Just before the midterm elections in 2018, she wanted to remind people to vote. So she had a sign made that simply said VOTE, had her photo taken, ahad cards made with that image on the front -- and sent them to everyone she knew.
Betta was a founding subscriber to Ms. Magazine, a card-carrying atheist, an occasional scofflaw ("somtimes the rules aren't correct") and an avid traveler. When Betta and her husband, Robert, were living in the Manhattan brownstone where they raised their three daughters, one wall of the house was covered a giant painting of The Bill of Rights -- a mural commissioned by Betta.
Betta's signature motto: Don't leave home without your passport and bathing suit.
Betta also became a major donor to the Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta, Maine, and the center hosts the Betta Ehrenfeld speaker series in Betta's honor.
And yes, Betta was a role model to her three children.
Katie speaks with Martha Ehrenfeld, Betta's middle daughter.
Don't forget to visit us at ourmothersourselves.com. And while you're there, please contribute your word to the mother word cloud.
Music composed and performed by Andrea Perry.
Artwork by Paula Mangin. (@PaulaBallah)
Producer: Alice Hudson
Intern: Rosie Manock (@RosieManock)