because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Annie Oakley

Phoebe Ann Moses' father died of pneumonia in the mid-1860's, which could have left her family starving. Instead, however, eight-year-old Annie, as she was called, just picked up a rifle and started providing meat for her widowed mother and her seven brothers and sisters on a regular basis herself. In fact, she not only fed them, but by the time she was fifteen, she had paid off the mortgage on the family farm selling game to restaurants and hotels in the area of Ohio where they lived.

She so fascinated a sharpshooting Irish immigrant named Frank Butler by beating him out of a hundred dollar bet that he married her and they were soon performing together with Moses using the name "Annie Oakley." But that was only until Buffalo Bill heard about them and invited them to join his show. It was no wonder. Annie's best trick was to aim her .22 caliber rifle while Frank, standing 90 feet away, would drop a playing card. She would then split the card repeatedly edge-on -- and shoot several holes in it -- before it could hit the ground! Yes, ma'am!

Not only was she known to help women meet their other goals for independence, but over her lifetime, Oakley taught more than 15,000 women how to shoot a gun to defend themselves. In fact, she was quoted as saying, "I'd like to see every woman able to handle [guns] as naturally as [she] handles babies."

Despite being badly injured first in a train crash and then in an automobile accident, Oakley was still setting shooting records into her sixties and when she died in 1926, Frank Butler was still so in love with this in-your-face woman, he stopped eating and died himself eighteen days later. Only then was it was discovered that Annie Oakley had spent everything she ever made on people she loved and causes she supported, including women's rights. How could it have been otherwise?

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