Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Phyllis Scaglione Hamm Passes

The Council of Trent Farm workers, homeless, and feminists gather to mourn the passing of one of their own: Phyllis Scaglione Hamm.

Dear Karen,

The crush of people around you at your mother's funeral service prevented my talking more to you about what a fine human being she was.

Your mother, Phyllis Scaglione Hamm, was one of us original feminists who founded the National Organization for Women 45 years ago in Tampa in the old McManis Room of the public library. We voted your mother in as one of our first presidents (I believe it was after attorney Clara Britton died while president).

Phyllis did a great job as NOW president, and we did lots of protesting under her leadership. We hopped on anything that degraded women and took up our picket signs and marched.

I recall our picketing Mass Brothers Department store, which was on Franklin Street then, for charging women, but not men, for alterations. As I recall, that was Phyllis's idea. Little Kim Goodwin, then about four or five, carried a sign she staggered along with, that said "Hems for Her."

Tom and I went to Kim's wedding in California a couple of years ago, where she is now a practicing gynecologist and recently gave birth to a little girl of her own.

The manager of Maas Brothers pranced out to chide us and huffed and puffed about our "unreasonableness." He claimed with great gravity that the reason the store charged women, but not men, for alterations was that "women sew."

Viagra had not been invented then, alas. Had it been, I could have asked him if he were Viagra dependent and wasn't he scared of having a four-hour erection that the ads describe so that he would have to go to the emergency room of Tampa General and have all the Emergency Room nurses laugh their heads off at him in the nurses' lounge.

Your mother was a woman of substance. She spent her life working for women's rights, farm-workers' rights, the rights of the homeless. If a mistreated group needed somebody to speak up for it because its members couldn't do it themselves, your mother would do the job.

Those who came to her funeral services represented the many downtrodden people that Phyllis helped in her life. Phyllis's mourners were not a bunch of the Bay Area's flossy politicians and society snoots in attendance. Present to say goodbye to Phyllis was the homely crowd of people grateful to her working for their well-being as long as she lived.

A person's balance in the Book of Life concerns what he or she has done to make the world a better place. Phyllis gets high marks for all the good she did in her life. Her memory will always be blessed for her good deeds. The world is a better place because she lived.

Phyllis was four years younger than I; but she always seemed to me to be older, more grave, and more responsible than I in our civil-rights work. I laughed my way thorough the Women's Movement early years. The sexists were so ridiculous that you had to laugh at them. I had a great time. It always seemed to me that we had so much more joy and hilarity in our women's- rights work than the grim and joyless misogynists of both sexes in government and out who opposed our efforts.

Phyllis's speeches were of dignity and substance when she accepted a speaking engagment to explain our cause. I, in contrast, wrote the text for our annual Barefoot and Pregnant Awards and told everybody that Phyllis and I had to sleep in the hotel room with the lesbian contingent at one conference because the other radical-feminist wussies wouldn't. Phyllis would have never done that. She was too dignified and serious.

I will miss your mother's being on the earth. I always knew Phyllis was out there somewhere working for some good cause. Hers was the kind of spirit we need more of.

Your mother was my friend and my hero. I will never forget her and never stop regretting that she is no longer with us.

That you were by her side when she died seems just right to me. She brought you into the world, and you kept to her side when she left it.

If you need a mother or a granny's ear, call one of us old members of the original NOW sisterhood. We will fill in for your mother. We will be Phyllis's ears and heart to heed your tale and give you the best advice that we can.



Ms. Phyllis Scaglione Hamm

Ms. Phyllis Scaglione Hamm

  • BORN: June 19, 1936
  • DIED: August 11, 2009
  • LOCATION: Temple Terrace, FL

Gathering of Friends
  • Friday August 21
    5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Blount & Curry, Terrace Oaks
  • 12690 N 56th Street
  • Temple Terrace, FL
  • View Map

Hamm, Phyllis Scaglione, 73, of Tampa passed away on August 11, 2009, with her daughter by her side. She is survived by daughter, Karen Walter (Bill Morrow); brothers, Orlando Scaglione, Jr. (Patti), and Ray Scaglione, Sr. (Katrina); and many loving family members and friends. Phyllis graduated from Jefferson High School in 1954 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. She was retired from the University of South Florida, where she held various positions including Equal Opportunity Specialist. Phyllis was active in many women’s organizations and was a founding member of WMNF Radio and a board member of Mighty Mutts, Inc. Her devotion to the ones she loved knew no limits and her self-sacrificing support of family was demonstrated until her last days with us. Friends are invited to a gathering of her remembrance from 5:30-8:30pm on Friday, August 21 at the Blount & Curry, Terrace Oaks Chapel, 12690 N 56th St., Temple Terrace. Flowers will be accepted or donations may be made in her memory to Mighty Mutts, Inc., PO Box 290492, Temple Terrace, FL, 33687.


Anonymous said...

Do you recall if Phyllis judged all those downtrodden farm workers by the clothes they wore?

Anonymous said...

Can you picture Olson or Elia or Kipley working for the downtrodden? Not at all. They identify with the power structure in America and could care less about the downtrodden. Otherwise, they would make changes in the district to make things more humane.