Sally Tatnall (b.1937), a radical feminist and community activist, speaks about her childhood in Buffalo, New York, and what it was like coming of age in the 1940s and 1950s. She describes her marriage to her husband, her civil rights activism and feminist activism with him, and her eventual divorce and introduction to lesbianism. Sally describes life in the lesbian-feminist collective in her Cleveland Heights home, Hag House or Berkshire House, and describes the work of radical feminist Clevelanders including Cleveland Women’s Counseling, the Land Project, the bar the Three of Cups, Oven Productions, the Ohio-Chicago Art Project, and the Women’s Building in Cleveland Heights. The interview gives insight into feminist activism in the 1970s and 1980s in Cleveland, Ohio and details the life and work of Sally Tatnall.
Tatnall, Sally (interviewee)
Swaim-Fox, Callan (interviewer)
"Sally Tatnall interview, 05 June 2019" (2019). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 999159.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:00:00] And you can look at me, you don’t have to look at the camera (laughs).
SALLY TATNALL [00:00:04] That seems a little better (laughs).
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:00:06] Yeah. Cameras are not always the funnest to look at. So this is Callie Swaim-Fox interviewing Sally Tatnall in her home in Lyndhurst, Ohio on June 5, 2019. So let’s start. Tell me about where you grew up.
SALLY TATNALL [00:00:20] I grew up in Buffalo, New York. And I had three sisters and we all have been very close my whole life. A few years ago I lost the sister closest to me and that was very difficult. I still miss her.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:00:37] Yeah.
SALLY TATNALL [00:00:38] Being all women [was interesting for my dad.] When my mother was pregnant for the 4th time someone asked him if he wanted a boy and he said, no, I’m afraid I wouldn’t know what to do with him.] My Dad passed when I was seventeen and I was the oldest of the four girls. So it was us and my mom and then my grandmother on my mother’s side came to live with us so I think having just women in the household made a difference.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:00:57] For sure.
SALLY TATNALL [00:00:58] We weren’t subjected to what I hear from other women who’ve had older brothers or younger brothers. So that wasn’t an awareness when I was growing up.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:01:13] Yeah. Do you think there’s any other ways that just having just the women shaped you as a young person?
SALLY TATNALL [00:01:24] My mother went to Elmira College and she became a school teacher and so even though [we were well educated we] grew up poor, I mean this, I’m very tuned into class stuff, but because I think she was educated, she knew that men made more money than women. That really annoyed her. But there was never any real analysis of sexism that I was aware of. There was of racism. My parents were very progressive for that time. And I think that helped.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:02:19] Was Buffalo racially integrated or segregated at that time?
SALLY TATNALL [00:02:24] Well, it’s like any city. The Black people lived here, the Italian people lived here, the Polish people lived there. I mean, there were enclaves of different ethnicities, but I suppose you call that integrated.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:02:45] And were you aware of those dynamics growing up?
SALLY TATNALL [00:02:49] I knew that we lived in the Italian neighborhood. That was pretty clear. But I don’t think it mattered. I wasn’t aware that other than it being the Italian neighborhood that there was anything else to think about.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:03:07] Right, right. So you said your mom was a schoolteacher. And what did your dad do?
SALLY TATNALL [00:03:15] He did odds and ends, he was a painter for a while, he was a short-order cook for a while, he was sort of an original hippie, I guess. [He was a very] bright guy. He and I used to debate stuff much to my mother’s chagrin. So, I mean teachers have never been paid well and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we really didn’t have much. Plus my father was a gambler and so he’d go and blow a wad and then he’d bring home a wad. It was just that was something I was very aware of. That we didn’t have what other kids had. And I became particularly aware of it. Because my mother was a schoolteacher, I had the opportunity to go to the primary school called the State Teacher’s Practice School and it was part of the college and teachers would come and practice, I mean we’d have regular teachers but there was all these other students who were learning to be teachers who would come to the class so I think it was a very elevated educational experience. Because I remember in eighth grade—I’ve had asthma all my life and I’ve missed a lot of school. So in eighth grade, they were concerned about passing me on to high school. So [I took the eighth grade twice.] I left there and went to the eighth grade public school and, I mean, I had A’s in everything because most of it I’d learned a long time ago. So, it was sort of a comparative awareness of “wow I learned that two years ago.”
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:05:35] You mean the differences in the schools?
SALLY TATNALL [00:05:37] Yeah, yeah.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:05:38] Right, Right. Were the schools racially different?
SALLY TATNALL [00:05:50] I don’t remember any people of color going to the State School. It was a private school.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:05:58] Right.
SALLY TATNALL [00:05:59] And the girls there—I remember going to a pajama party at one of the houses and it was like “Oh my God!” I mean, they always had so much. And they traveled a lot and they did this and that and even though it was six, seventh, and eighth grade, there still was a lot of [awareness.] I didn’t feel ostracized by anyone but you know when you can’t keep up.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:06:29] Right.
SALLY TATNALL [00:06:32] And the school that I went to was a neighborhood [school]. One of my best friends growing up was a Black girl—or actually we called them negroes in that day, or colored. And we’d go to the downtown Y and play sports and stuff like that, go around, but I don’t remember integration being an issue in schools. You know?
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:07:12] Yeah. How was school socially for you, in middle school and beyond?
SALLY TATNALL [00:07:18] Well because I was sick a lot. My family [were Christian Scientists so] I grew up as a Christian Scientist. So that’s partly why I think I was sick so much because medicine was not something that you routinely turned to. It annoys me though [that people only know that about Christian Science] I’ll tell you the philosophical training that I got as a Christian Scientist, I give credit to every day. And the things I learned in that religion, [were awesome. It is based on the reality that] every single person is God’s perfect child. Well if that’s what you grow up with, that’s your life, that’s how you see the world. And I’ve been that way my whole life. So when I hear people only talking about the lack of medical care, it kind of annoys me because there was so much more, and I know that Mrs. Eddy, our leader—her position was if your mind is not free enough to have to know what you know, than you should take something, but you know how the peons (laughs) of any religion set up very cultish behaviors and so, I think that has a lot to do with how Christian Science is [viewed]. But it’s true I was sick a lot and so, we had this little girl gang (laughs). It was Nancy, Juliette, Barbara, my sister Dorothy, and me. And we just [hung out and did stuff], that was it. And we didn’t all go to the same school, we went to actually four different schools, my sister and I went to the same school but Barbara, Juliet, and Nancy they went—oh and Sylvia, they went to other schools. So, we had a pretty tight bond through all of that. Primary and high school. [And it is still true today.]
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:10:00] How was school for you academically?
SALLY TATNALL [00:10:04] Fine. I mean, (laughs) I was never what you’d call a “good student.”
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:10:14] (Laughs)
SALLY TATNALL [00:10:15] I had so many other things that I wanted to do (laughs) And I missed a lot of school. But I got good marks. I mean, apparently, I have a decent IQ so I got by. I barely got by in college but I got by, I graduated. And I think that’s when my education began in terms of social justice.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:10:43] And you mentioned outside of school you were doing a lot of things, what were those things—what were you involved in outside of school in high school and middle school?
SALLY TATNALL [00:10:52] We were just a gang of girls, you know? We played [we ran around loose. You can’t do that today.] I don’t know. I’ll tell you one incident. My friend Juliet and I, we worked at a Neisner’s [lunch] counter, which would be like—I don’t know what you have today, are there any department stores that have like a food counter in them?
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:11:13] I don’t think so anymore that I can think of.
SALLY TATNALL [00:11:15] Yeah well, we worked at this food counter and we were told we couldn’t keep our tips; they had to go [in] the cash register. And so we used to put them in our shoes. And one day, the boss came in and made us pour the money in our shoes into the cash drawer and then the next day my girlfriend and I—full of indignation—went in and quit (laughs).
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:11:46] (Laughs)
SALLY TATNALL [00:11:47] Like he cared.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:11:48] Right.
SALLY TATNALL [00:11:49] But we were so [outraged] (makes noise). Nobody was going to do that. Who did he think he was? I always remember that story because (laughs) we were so incensed.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:12:03] Right, Right. Do you remember growing up any lessons from school or your home about sex or sexuality?
SALLY TATNALL [00:12:14] Not really. You know, boy and girl stuff. In those days, it was very different. You had information; you knew how people—women got pregnant. That was pretty clear, and my mother had explained it all to us and, we understood. And so, the connection between sex and getting pregnant was very clear and nobody wanted to get pregnant, so we didn’t have sex. I remember Juliet teaching us all how to kiss (laughs). We all were supposed to kiss our hand, and she’d tell us how to move our lips and it was hysterical when I think back that we were teaching each other how to kiss, but not kissing each other, kissing the boys. And all of this, when I think back—I mean, I’m eighty-one now—it was such a different time. I’m not sure it’s that much better, but it was a very different time. And so, I didn’t even know the word lesbian. It just wasn’t there. There was something about if you were “queer,” you wore green on Thursday. So, that was the extent of [awareness.] And in terms of race, I remember I must have been eleven or so— twelve, asking my father what he would think if I married a black man—or a colored man we’d say—and all he said was he would always support me but he would want me to know it would be very difficult, and I think of that sometimes. I mean, my family, they lived that “everybody’s God’s perfect child” to a degree. And that was how it was. And I also think that I moved through the world not knowing much. I don’t know how young people are today. They seem to know so much more in terms of their environment, but we just sort of—we were who we were and we just went along. Yeah.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:15:05] It’s different (laughs).
SALLY TATNALL [00:15:07] Very, very different.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:15:09] And you said you didn’t know the word lesbian, did you have any sense of—were there anybody in your community that you—that had rumors about that they might have been lesbian or gay, nothing like that?
SALLY TATNALL [00:15:19] Nothing. In my later life, I began to wonder about a couple but, nope. It just didn’t come up. At least in my sector. You know, I am in awe of the women my age and older who knew [they were Lesbian] and never got married and never had kids. It’s just like “How did you do that?” How the hell did [you know?] How did you even meet other women? I am in awe of what they had to deal with.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:15:56] Right.
SALLY TATNALL [00:15:58] Because they were invisible in so many ways. And I think that’s a terrible thing. To have anybody feel invisible. It’s unfortunately how it is.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:16:17] Do you remember any crushes when you were little, of any gender?
SALLY TATNALL [00:16:31] I don’t know that I would have known what a crush was. I had a boyfriend in my junior year. And he was okay and he tried to kiss me once and I avoided it. And then in my senior year I had a boyfriend that I liked and the other thing was that he was a good dancer. I love to dance. And I’m pretty good at it and so he was a good dancer and so I really liked him, and we got along pretty well. We went to prom, stuff like that. But then I went to college, so that was kind of over.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:17:20] But you did, you liked him, and you had a good time with him?
SALLY TATNALL [00:17:23] Yeah. But making out was nothing like what people talk about today. Not even close.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:17:32] What was different about it?
SALLY TATNALL [00:17:34] It was kissing. That was it. Just different. I don’t know how the boys felt. I mean you hear people say that they get all hot and bothered and they got to do it and it’s like, “well if they did, I didn’t know about it.” (laughs) Because it never translated to me. I think when I look at today—and there are some things about today about the sexual freedom that I don’t think is good for women—I feel very sheltered in a way for how I grew up. And it gave me an opportunity to just say “Okay, what is this relationship stuff about?”
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:18:32] Right. So then after high school you said you went to college? Tell me about where you went and how you made that decision.
SALLY TATNALL [00:18:40] I went to Alfred University. Actually, I had applied to Duke and the reason I applied to Duke was because I read a lot of stuff. I was a big reader, and when you’re sick a lot you get to read a lot. I had read this stuff about Bridey Murphy. Now, I’m sure that’s an unknown thing to you, but at Duke university they were investigating and researching past lives. And this was a woman who had this past life in which she was Bridey Murphey. I was just fascinated by that. And so I applied to Duke. And I was probationally accepted but then—and I don’t know how it is today, I think it’s probably still the same—but then somebody they call a legatee took the place because their parents had gone to Duke, and that, So, I didn’t have that opportunity. And actually, that’s why my papers are at Duke because I just have this fondness for that. But anyway, I went to Alfred University who is just a couple hours south of Buffalo. Alfred was a private university but the New York State School of Ceramics was at Alfred and so we had both of those things going on. And the man that became my husband was a ceramic engineer. In fact we met like the first week I was there.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:20:31] Wow. So what did you study while you were there?
SALLY TATNALL [00:20:35] Whatever I could—(laughs). Like I say, I wasn’t a good student although I was smart. It’s a weird thing. I think I just started out in general, you have all your stuff you got to do. And then my first thing was political science. Well, I didn’t do so well on that so then I decided I’d be a math major, because I was always good at math. Well, I didn’t do so well at that, so I wound up creating—finishing the requirements for an English major. So that’s how I graduated. But I have to say one thing. The first time I took physics I flunked it. Again, I was playing bridge. I was playing a lot of bridge. And so I had to take physics in summer school to get rid of that F. And so here I am in this physics lab and there’s another girl in the class and she and I are lab partners and the rest of them are boys. This is probably the first time that I really had a sense of bullshit going on. We were in lab one day and we had to conduct this experiment, so she and I put together the experiment, did it carefully the way we were supposed to. And the teacher because our answer was so close to the real answer, he told us we’d cheated. And that man was on my Uzi list for a long time. I just thought if I ever know I’m terminally ill, I’m getting a Uzi and I’m clearing the world of some of these people that have been assholes. So anyway and then the next thing particular to my beginning feminism I suppose but which I wasn’t aware of is that my senior year I joined women’s student government in college and was very active in that. And I was also on probation. Now this is my senior year; I have to do it all in this year or I won’t graduate. So there was only one person running for women’s student government president. I was outraged. I thought that was terrible that there was only one person. So I convinced my advisor that I should run just so there’d be a choice. And that as soon as it was over, I would quit. Well I happened to win the election.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:23:39] (Laughs) Of course, I knew it was coming.
SALLY TATNALL [00:23:40] Which was unfortunate, but, I couldn’t do it because I was on probation. But anyway it was that kind of thing. Little bitty things through my life have certainly brought me to where I am. There’s no question—I have no curiosity about how I got here. And it feels very authentic I guess is the word they use today? (laughs) There is a lot of word usage that I think is silly. But.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:24:19] And then you said that you met your husband. Did you start—or who would be your husband—like tell me about the beginnings of that relationship and how that—
SALLY TATNALL [00:24:29] Well we were—we went everywhere together. And in fact, I heard from one of his fraternity brothers that he came home from this meeting and told them “Stay away from Shirley.” That was my name in school, it’s my legal name. “Stay away from Shirley, she’s my girl” (Laughs). Which, at the time I was flattered, it was like, “Oh whatever.” So we just went out, I mean you know. I didn’t start sleeping with him until I was like a junior in college. And we still didn’t have intercourse. It was like “Oh no, I’m not getting pregnant.”
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:25:13] And he was okay with that?
SALLY TATNALL [00:25:15] Yeah. Well he had to be (laughs). He was a good man. He really was. He passed a couple of years ago. He supported me in a lot of ways. I always said I wanted to have a big family. Actually, there was a separation. In my junior year— he was two classes ahead of me so—in my junior year he wasn’t there and he had decided that we should break up. So we did. And I was going out with other guys and I have to tell you, I’ve never been head-over-heels in love with any of the men. Even my husband was my best friend, we had great sex, but I never felt what people talk about in terms of “love.” I also have questions about that too. Not in terms of myself but how we identify love and what it really means. Because there was a lot of love between me and my husband because we were partners in a very real way. But anyway, so we separated. And so then in my senior year, I was just going along. I was going to graduate, go home, be a teacher like my mother, help send my younger kids—there were two of us and there was seven years and two more—when I think about birth control I wonder “How did my mother do that?” but any case, so anyway where was I?
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:27:17] After like senior year—
SALLY TATNALL [00:27:19] Oh yeah, I was floating. And all of the sudden, over Christmas vacation of my senior year, up pops this man again. This Fran— R. Francis Tatnall. And he called me and wanted to see me. And at that point he proposed.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:27:42] Wow.
SALLY TATNALL [00:27:43] And so he had been around and I was the one. So, I said “yes,” and we got married in August after my senior year and we went to Darlington PA and I started teaching fifth grade. Loved fifth grade. In the fifth grade in those days, kids didn’t know about boys and girls. They were just who they were. Loved them. I was such a city kid that here we are in this country town—very small town—and the girls decide I should become a girl scout leader (laughs). And so, I’m being a girl scout leader but they’re taking me on the tracks, they’re taking me camping, they’re telling me what I need to do.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:28:36] (Laughs) Right.
SALLY TATNALL [00:28:36] We had a blast actually. But—okay here’s an incidence when I was teaching in Darlington. I’ve never been one for policies that didn’t make sense. So, the first time I got in trouble is I parked my car in another teacher’s spot. Now it wasn’t marked or anything, I had no idea, but I got called into the principal’s office and told I couldn’t park there. No problem, I don’t care. Another incidence I was out on the playground monitoring the kids and a couple kids come running [up] to me “Ms. Tatnall, Ms. Tatnall, you have to come, you have to come” and in those days teachers paddled students. And so here’s this great big huge guy who’s got Kenny Fleishman who’s this fifth grader and a smaller fifth grader but tough, he’s going to paddle him. I was nervous but I said ,“No you don’t” Absolutely not, you don’t have a right to do that. I mean I just faced him head on, “don’t you touch this kid” and he didn’t and that was the end of that. And shortly after that they did stop the paddling but I was outraged, I mean things like that that happened in my life just put me into motion. That was all there was to it.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:30:16] And where do you think—you had a strong feeling when you saw that—like where do you think those feelings that you had came from?
SALLY TATNALL [00:30:22] You don’t hurt—you don’t get to hurt somebody. I mean, come on. You’re six feet. Must weigh 250 and here’s this little runt. No, no, you don’t get to do that.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:30:36] So you think it was more that you just felt it innately?
SALLY TATNALL [00:30:40] It wasn’t fair. Things that aren’t fair have driven me my entire life. Even when I was small. Yeah. Not going to participate (laughs).
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:30:58] So your husband, what was he doing while you were a teacher?
SALLY TATNALL [00:31:02] He was being a ceramic engineer.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:31:03] Oh. What does a ceramic engineer do (laughs)?
SALLY TATNALL [00:31:05] Well, they do ceramics. Like they build brick, they build nose cones for rockets—anything. It’s the high temperature treatment of inorganic properties and glass—any of that stuff, that’s all about ceramics. So he worked at a factory in Darlington that made brick, and all different kind of brick and different kinds of colors of bricks so he did that. That’s what his job was while I was teaching.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:31:46] And then, how did you guys end up in Cleveland? You went to Cleveland after that?
SALLY TATNALL [00:31:51] No. Well first I had a baby—
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:31:55] Oh wow. How long after you’d been married?
SALLY TATNALL [00:32:01] Two years. I had a baby, a son, and while I was pregnant, he got a job in Cleveland. And so, I stayed there to stay with my doctor. I was terrified of being pregnant. Absolutely terrified. And I went to my doctor [and he] said “Get the book ‘Childbirth without Fear by [Grantly Dick-Reed] and so I go to the library and I ask for this book and the librarian says “Oh, that’s in our restricted area.”
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:32:50] (Laughs) Oh my goodness.
SALLY TATNALL [00:32:52] I mean, aren’t you proud of us that we came from there and got to here? Anyway, so okay so I got the book from the restricted area and went home and read it. It didn’t do a whole lot. My doctor did home delivery so he used to take [me on these occasions] I worked as sort of a secretary for him because when I was pregnant I wasn’t teaching. And so he used to take me on home deliveries so I had a lot of experience that I’m sure helped me. And it turned out that having babies was not difficult for me. So that was a good thing. But anyway so Fran is working in Cleveland, I’m having a baby and just staying there for a while, and then (laughs) okay here’s another story. So my sister is helping me. She came to stay with me. And at some point in this process—I don’t know where it came from but I’m sitting in bed nursing the baby and a bat flies through the room. Well, to say I freaked doesn’t even begin to say it. I never went back to that house. I went to my mother’s because I knew we were going to be moving. My sister and I—we went to our mothers. I stayed there until we got to Cleveland.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:34:31] Back in Buffalo?
SALLY TATNALL [00:34:32] Yep.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:34:33] Wow. And so you weren’t working anymore after you’d had the kid?
SALLY TATNALL [00:34:35] Right. I wasn’t working.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:34:36] So you just left.
SALLY TATNALL [00:34:39] But it was a trip and a half.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:34:43] And did you—you said you didn’t want to be pregnant, but did you want children? You knew you wanted children?
SALLY TATNALL [00:34:47] Oh yes, I knew I wanted children. I wanted to have three of my own and I wanted to adopt three. So, six kids. Now, my husband thought one kid would be good.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:34:58] (Laughs) Do you have a sense of why you wanted so many children?
SALLY TATNALL [00:35:06] Because there were kids that needed to be taken care of. And I don’t know, it just seemed like a good thing to do. And I did have three children and adopted one biracial child. But it was different it was—if I knew then what I knew today, I wouldn’t have done any of it. But that information was not available.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:35:36] Like what information?
SALLY TATNALL [00:35:40] (sighs) All of it. All of the stuff about women being empowered, about women having more choices, about—I don’t know that I would have gotten married, I don’t believe in the institution and I don’t—if I had known then what I know now, I don’t think I’d have gotten married. You know, it’s funny that gay people have fought so hard to be married it’s like “why?” It’s ridiculous. But in any case.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:36:24] When you were married and having your children did you feel like you were limited in any ways or were you happy with where you were at the point?
SALLY TATNALL [00:36:32] I was happy. And I didn’t feel limited because I did whatever I wanted to do. If I wanted to visit, I would just haul the kids into the car and then go visit. And my husband was very supportive of me. I lived a fairly independent existence in a way. We got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. I’d always have somebody come over to the house. I was a socialist there for a while. And there was always somebody staying at the house. Now this is not something my husband signed up for at all. He wanted just how it is—mom and dad and kids doing what they’re supposed to do. So we got involved in a youth thing, an organization oh what was it called—I don’t remember but there was this building. It was a big big house called The Well and all the hippie kids play guitar and a lot of integration was happening and so we were very—I was very involved in that and Fran did somewhat. We were involved in book groups, very integrated, very integrated circumstances. And I can remember reading a book, I don’t remember the name of it. See, I don’t know where this came from. Because it certainly wasn’t something that I was taught. But somehow in this book it was all about how animals come together and how they breed—all I know is that there was this statement that the male lion chooses the female lion or the male of the species does all of this in order to attract the female, so they were putting forth this male-dominant position. And I can remember thinking clearly, "Well wait a minute. Isn’t it the woman who says, ‘do you think you can do enough to get me?’” I mean, it just was in me that no, you don’t just say that. So there’s always been that in me. And I would challenge stuff that came up that didn’t fit that, you know.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:39:40] You were talking about The Well and this like kind of racial justice work. Was that in [Cleveland] Heights or—
SALLY TATNALL [00:39:46] No, it was in Cleveland.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:39:48] Which neighborhood?
SALLY TATNALL [00:39:50] Probably in East Cleveland actually.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:39:51] Okay. So is that where—where did your kids grow up? When you had your kids, what neighborhood—
SALLY TATNALL [00:39:58] We lived in East Cleveland.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:40:00] East Cleveland, Okay.
SALLY TATNALL [00:40:01] Yeah. On Stanwood right next to Shaw High School.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:40:06] And what was East Cleveland—what years would that have been—what was East Cleveland like at that point?
SALLY TATNALL [00:40:11] It would have been in the sixties. Very integrated.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:40:17] Really?
SALLY TATNALL [00:40:19] I can remember going to [the zoning board. We] wanted to protest something that had to do with zoning and this Well place and I remember we all gathered, black and white mothers, and we changed kids so that all the white mothers had the black kids and all the black mothers had the white kids. And we just went down to city hall and said, “This is bullshit” So, we were always doing stuff like that. I would say from ‘65 on. I don’t remember when—were you even born then?
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:41:04] Me?
SALLY TATNALL [00:41:05] Yeah, ‘65?
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:41:06] Oh no, I was born in the nineteen nineties.
SALLY TATNALL [00:41:10] Okay. So it was a lot. I will say about my life, I have been able to experience some of the greatest movements there have been in my opinion. Socialism, communism, civil rights, women’s rights. And I have to say quite frankly that the LGBT crew doesn’t have a single leg to stand on in terms of what they have been up against. I’m sorry, you know. All of this paved a way for you to just step on some platform and now everybody thinks you’re great. I get annoyed about that sometimes.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:42:06] So I know that at that time in downtown Cleveland was when the integration happened in the schools and stuff so it was definitely a very active time for that.
SALLY TATNALL [00:42:16] Oh yes.
CALLAN SWAIM-FOX [00:42:18] And so it was mostly you, and Fran supported that?
SALLY TATNALL [00:42:21] Yeah, he really did. Fran hung in there, like I say, he was a good man. So anyways so we’re coming up to one day there’s going to be this conference at Case on women’s liberation and so this friend of mine and— But wait how—somewhere in there we moved to New Jersey. He takes some other kind of job and so we move to New Jersey and that was during the time that we were adopting this kid and we had to shift from Cleveland to Trenton, New Jersey, so that’s really where the adoption happened. We were only in New Jersey for I’d say two years at the most. Were we there two years? Anyway we came back to Cleveland and all of it was Fran’s job. You know it was a good thing I wasn’t working because I just had to pick up and move. And so that was not even something that I even thought was odd. Always got another job or going somewhere else. So it was after that period that I contacted this friend because now we’re not in East Cleveland anymore now we’re in Cleveland Heights. So I called up my friend and I said, “Do you want to go to this meeting?” and she said “yes,” so we went to this meeting, this conference. And there were workshops. And there was this workshop called “consciousness raising” and we’d never heard of anything like that so we decided to go. Well I’ll tell you, that was a marker. I mean, everything had led me to that point but that was a marker that pulled an awful lot together and so we started a consciousness raising group. There was a women’s building sort of in East Cleveland and they had all the books, you know we read all the books. My husband read all the books. He was as much into feminism as anybody could be. He started a men’s group, so feminism just fit. It was like, “Oh my gosh, this is about me.” Everything else had been about other people who were not treated right, but this was about me. And while I never felt oppressed consciously—you know I’d look back on things. Like I remember once having this argument with my husband
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