Browse Items (8 total)

  • Tags: Sheila Michaels

TAXI<br />
This cabbie feels you have a right to a ride home, even in you live in Brooklyn.  But please don’t call her.<br />
You have to drive a cab 12 hours a night to make it worthwhile, which means you’re just working and sleeping in order to make a living.  After a few days, you’re not sure you’re heading uptown or down.<br />
	I was ending my work week.  The first couple of passengers were good talkers, pleasant — a policeman from Smithtown in for a two-week method course, an English businessman going for supper with a pretty woman.  When I stopped at a light near Grand Central, a man knocked on the window and asked if I’d take him to Rockaway Blvd.  I hadn’t gotten a long view of him, just the face at the window.  My only impression was that he was working-class Irish, and that is damn near perfection in a passenger.  I wasn’t quite sure where Rockaway was—somewhere near the airport—so I told him I’d go on his directions.<br />
	I noticed he was pretty rumpled, when he got in, but not drunk.  By law you can throw out a drunk.  They forget where they’re going and if they don’t get sick they fall asleep, and they make trouble over money.  But he wasn’t drunk.  I figured he’d had a couple of drinks after a long day and decided he’d treat himself to a cab.<br />
	I was going to connect to the Van Wyck, but he said to take Queens Blvd. straight out and he’d direct me.  He was a very difficult passenger to talk to.  I can usually think of a conversational opener, but nothing I thought of seemed right, so I just drove.<br />
	When we hit Jamaica Ave., he told me to turn left.  I thought the airport would be to the right, but he said he wanted to make another stop before he went home.  A sick aunt he was worried about.  He’d only look in and come right out.  I said he’d have to pay me before he got out.  He said he’d pay double if he had to; just keep going, it was another few miles.  So I kept going and I kept checking to see if he’d fallen asleep, and he kept telling me to keep going.  And then we passed a sign for Floral Park and I pulled over  and said that if we were going out of the city limits, he’d have to pay double the meter.  He said he knew that, just keep going.  New Hyde Park, Garden CityPark, Mineola.<br />
	One of the reasons I live in the city is that all trees and grass are the same, and the minute they surround you, you’re lost.  What I would have given at the moment to be taking a youth gang in the South Bronx.  It was raining and I could hardly see, and I was in nightmare territory with a passenger who didn’t talk and wasn’t worried about money.  People ask if I don’t get scared.  In the city, no; but anything can happen in Mineola.  You read about it all the time.  By Westbury the meter was already $15.95.  I pulled off and asked for the full fare before we went on.  He said he’d dropped his money in the back seat.  I said we were going to the police.<br />
	At the first filling station, I pulled over and asked the attendant to call the police.  He ran over and caught the passenger as he was slipping away from the cab.  The passenger, a guy about 50, aid that if I called his father, he would pay me.  I was itching to get to the police and file a report.  I’d lost two hours’ work and I owed the cab company $19.95 so far, and I was in Westbury.  But I called the number and asked the answerer if he knew the man.  The old father said, “You’ve got my son.  Thank God!  Don’t let him get away.”  He was the last thing in the world I wanted to hang onto just then.  I explained in a very shaky voice where we were, and why, and that out-of-town calls were double the meter.  The father asked for my name and address and license, in case I should be up to something.  The passenger misdirected me twice on the way there.  <br />
	We wound up in Lawrence, still outside the city limits.  The house lights were blazing, and a jeep with lights trained on the driveway waited on the road.  I left my motor running, and locked the car with a second set of keys.  I carried my ear-shattering alarm with me, stood in the rain, and asked the passenger to ring the bell.  If it was “Psycho” inside, I wanted him to get him first.<br />
	The passenger walked in and sat down in front of a television set.  His old father asked me in, a younger brother stood guarding the door.  My meter read $35.85.  The father gave me $40 and told me to keep the change.  I reminded him that, aside from my grief and time, the law required double payment outside of the five boroughs.  The old father patted me on the shoulder and said it had been difficult for him in the three years since his wife died.  The house was neat but too warm and the paint was peeling.  I had the feeling I was supposed to do something about his dead wife, besides expressing regrets.  The brother was still standing by the door with arms folded.  I took the $40 and went back to my cab.<br />
	The time I found the road to the airport.  I don’t usually work Kennedy, because I don’t like to wait there for hours and then pull a call to Jamaica.  But it was 11:30, and where can you go to work in that neighborhood?  Luckily, because of the rain, the airport was stripped.  I was the only cab at the terminal.  And I got a call to mid-terminal.  And I got a call to mid-Brooklyn.  You never ask a dispatcher whom you haven’t bribed to double up, because he’ll write you up.  But it was raining, and there wan’t another cab, so he gave me a second Brooklyn, a woman nearer the bridge to Manhattan.<br />
	The first passenger told me to take the Belt.  The rain had caused an accident which tied up traffic for nearly $4 in waiting-time.  When we reached his house, the fare was $18.  We were almost as far from the second passenger’s house as if she had come straight from the airport.  I suggested that he pay the full fare and she pay the difference.  He said he would only pay $12.  I thought it was unfair.  She hadn’t insisted on the Belt, or urged me into the traffic.  But he refused to pay his full share, and I had to accept the arrangement.  The second passenger was a telephone representative, returning home from her son’s wedding in California.  When we reached her house the meter read $22.50.  She gave me $15, I said I still thought he had done her out of $6, and she told me that another cabdriver had offered to take them for $15 each, but he had refused.<br />
	A passenger at Smith and Fulton then took me to Keap and Whyte in Williamsburg.  And so I took the bridge back to Beautiful Manhattan.<br />
	Dan Greenberg recently wrote about traveling with the police of the 9th Precinct in the meanest, vilest, rottenest, roughest, smelliest, baddest section of New York City.  It happens to be where I pay $200 a month to live, but he never said it was cheap.  So I decided to work my neighborhood: Baruch Houses, Riis Houses, Every street was flooded and it was raining too hard to tell when I was about to plunge up to the fender in water and eliminate my brakes for another 15 minutes.  Finally the whole world was asleep, except Chinatown.  At Kum Lau Square the restaurants that close to 5 a.m. were finally releasing their cooks and waiters.  Eldridge, Essex, Allen, Pike.  Splintering doorways, mildewed tenements thrown together a century ago.  People carrying tips are easy marks — one reason I don’t turn in before dawn.  Chinese waiters take cabs home for a five-minute walk.  The cabbie waits until each man unlocks his door at home and waves.<br />
	A Puerto Rican grocery clerk has been waiting at Essex and Delancey in the rain for 15 minutes for a cab to take<br />
continued on Page 19<br />
Taxi! Article written by Sheila MIchaels in 1979.

Image: A large group of women are locked in arms and chanting  in the streets of a large city<br />
Sisterhood is the basis of the American Women’s Movement.  It is women helping women, listening, finding trust and support from each other, talking openly about their own lives.  Women are still, everywhere, the single poorest group in any society.  Society rests on the unpaid and underpaid labour of women.  When people see themselves whole, not as “the others”—not certainly as half of humanity—they resist their exploitation.  We must succeed in no longer defining ourselves by the criteria men have set for us, because in fact men define themselves positively—in contrast to these very standards.  We have stopped consenting to our own oppression.  We have built and are building a changing vital, simple movement which cannot be stopped.  We have done it all ourselves as we have learned to share our strength.<br />
	I was surprised to find what Indians have heard about America and the Women’s Movement.  I’m told that “Americans are suffering a total breakdown of their personalities and society, chaos, sexual license, bursting mental hospitals, violence and divorce.”  Surely it must be raining fire back home.  I am told the Women’s Movement wants to destroy all beauty and is destroying the authority of family (Who is the family?  Are men the family?), causing social dislocation in the West and neglecting the care of <br />
16 Youth Times March 7, 1975
1975 Article in the Youth Times of India, "We Never Burned a Bra" written by Sheila Michaels

October 15, 1971<br />
Dear Ms. Steinem:<br />
I hear you are putting out MS., a magazine, and thought you might be interest in the chronology of the term--then again, maybe not.  I am avoiding several overextended deadlines, and so have all the time in the world to tell you.  The pronunciation, "Miz", by the way, is not inflexible.  I simply though of both at the same time because I am from Missouri, and it was always necessary to ask whether Miz Lovercam or Miz Schnackenberg were married.<br />
<br />
At the end of 1961 my roommate  became CORE's first female field secretary (CORE was founded in 1943 or 4).  She was in Detroit lecturing on the Freedom Rides and ran into a little group called "News and Letters", headed by a woman who, I believe, knew Trotsky.  They were about 50 people, mostly auto workers, and having withstood the vicissitudes of time and politics in this country are still, I think , about the same number.  Anyway, they had a singularly sensible line for that time and Mari, having a great deal of the ex-nun about her, believed in encouraging them and strongarming me at the same time, and took out subscriptions for both of us.<br />
<br />
The copies that came to me where all addressed, "Ms. Sheila Michaels."  I never knew if it was a means of saving space, a typo, or a radical posture.  But it struck a responsive chord.  Her subscription was to "Miss Mari Hamilton," but that gave no clarification, as she has always been so insistent upon the use of courtesy titles that she dragged the entire State of Alabama before the Supreme Court for their refusal to use them.<br />
<br />
I toyed with the idea for several years.  When I finally left SNCC in 1965, I had a heightened respect for myself and a beginning self consciousness.  (I had been a SNCC field secretary for 1962-4, and as there were few women in the position, and I was one of even fewere with any degree of autonomy, I had become thoroughly sick of the limitations, not to say aware of how little freedom I had been given and how tenuous that was.  I though it was interesting that SNCC, which was founded by Diane Nash, and had a white Georgian, Jane Stembridge, as its first field secretary, should in time, as its importance grew, [typo] narrow its opportunities to women to near the point of exclusion.)<br />
<br />
I tried out the "Ms." then, in 1965.  But it was more trouble than it then seemed worth.  I would explain very carefully and continually that I refused to be defined by whether I "belonged" to a man.  Well, I was laughed out of it.
Letter sent to Gloria Steinem from Sheila Michaels in 1971, explaining the origin of popularizing the feminist address from women as Ms.

Shiki Hikaru, a Japanese man is smiling wearing a red shirt, holding a light brown puppy with a black nose with a blue leash attached to its collar.  Shiki Hikaru is standing in a room that is painted green.  He is surrounded by art supplies on shelves and art on the wall.  There are colorful paper cutouts of various shapes, people, and animals hanging from the ceiling
Photograph of Hikaru Shiki holding a dog with Japanese paper cutouts , husband to Sheila Michaels from 1979 to 1985.

A candid photo of Sheila Michaels in 1959.  She is looking thoughtfully at the camera with her head slightly tilted.
Headshot of Sheila Michaels 1959.

Alma Kessler and Buddy Hackett circa 1970s standing close together in front of an exit door.  Alma Kessler is wearing orange pants, an orange jacket, and an orange striped shirt.  She is wearing gold necklaces and has sunglasses resting on her head.  Buddy Hacket is wearing yellow, white, and gray striped pants, a yellow pullover v-neck sweater with two white stripes around the v-neck over an orange collared shirt.  He has a white fisherman-style hat with an indistinguishable emblem on it.   His hands are in his pocket.
Photograph of Alma Kessler Sheila Michael's mother and the actor Buddy Hackett

Sheila Michaels as a child circa 1945.  She is smiling at the camera, wearing a striped smock dress with baby doll sleeves and a Peter Pan collar.  Her hair is long in the back, and the front is pulled back and secured with a bow.
Childhood picture of Sheila Michaels circa 1940s

Sheila Michaels circa 1945 sits at a booth table in a  Chinese restaurant with her parents and another man.  There is a partial view of a Chinese tapestry on the wall behind them that depicts  an elderly Chinese man wearing an ornate kimono.  There are china dishes with an Asian pattern and a teapot and condiments on their tables.  The man closest to the wall is wearing a suit and smoking a cigarette.  Sheila's mother sits across from him and is wearing a dress and a printed headscarf.  She is smiling.  Sheila sits next to her and is wearing a plaid jumper with a white blouse with baby doll sleeves and a Peter Pan collar.   She looks timidly at the camera.  Her father sitting across from her is wearing a suit and smiling at the camera.
Black and white photograph of Sheila Michaels, her mother and stepfather, and one unknown gentlemen dining in a Chinese restaurant circa 1940s.
Output Formats

atom, dcmes-xml, json, omeka-xml, rss2