My father’s daughter
By Janice Evans-Davis
Janice is a public affairs/public relations strategist. Her most recent position was as chief policy officer/director of communications for the mayor’s office in Houston, Texas.
I grew up in a small Midwestern town 16 miles east of the Mississippi River. Monmouth, Illinois had a population of about 10,000. It is known as the Prime Beef Capital of the World. That’s right; the best steaks are found not here in Texas, but in my hometown. Some may want to argue with me on this point, but I’ve eaten Illinois beef and I’ve eaten Texas beef and I prefer the northern version.
Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth and Ronald Reagan lived there for a short time as a young boy. The Evans family lived there because it is where my father — nicknamed Corky because of his curly hair — was born and raised. Mom was from Chicago, but after meeting dad, she chucked nursing school and the big city for love and small town life.
My dad and a partner started their own electrical contracting company in 1951. C & D Electric, now owned and operated by my brother, is one of the oldest surviving businesses in Monmouth. When we were growing up, it was the bid contracts dad won from the school district and city government that provided a large portion of our income. If there was an electrical problem at the local sewage treatment plant, one of the schools or any other city facility, my dad was the one they called. As young girl, I would frequently ask to tag along. He was taking his daughter to work long before anyone understood the impact that could have on a young girl. Mostly, I just watched and listened, but sometimes he would find a way to let me help. I haven’t done it in years, but because of him I know how to replace a light switch or outlet and I can install a light fixture.
Dad’s work was more than how he supported our family of six; it was his passion. He loved being able to get the lights back on or the boiler at the high school working again. Like most from his generation, he possessed an incredible work ethic. His work days often extended beyond dinner when he would return to the garage behind the house where the business was based to tinker with an electrical motor or prepare invoices so my mother could get the bills out to customers. Sunday was his only day off, but even his time in the recliner with the Sunday paper could be interrupted by an emergency call.
I don’t recall ever experiencing gender bias from my father. Shoveling snow, mowing the grass or taking out the trash were not chores reserved only for my brother. The summer the house had to be painted, we all helped — even mom climbed up on the ladder. Given the times, I suppose it happened, but it wasn’t until I moved elsewhere that I began to experience the gender biases that remain prevalent in the workplace today.
Because of my dad (and mom), I am a passionate woman who believes she has something worthwhile to offer. I’ve always believed there were no barriers to what I might choose to do. I find it surprising that a man born in the late 1920s and raised in a small, conservative Midwestern town would be more accepting of women and their contributions than many men of today. I am certain dad just wanted his daughters to be strong, able to take care of themselves and respected for what they have to offer. Isn’t this what every involved and present father wants for a daughter? Unfortunately, as we have seen over and over again, what fathers want is not always what daughters get. We must recommit to a change so that another generation of girls does not grow up to be interrupted in the boardroom, stereotyped as difficult or penalized for their input. Just like my dad, I am certain that’s what the man who is celebrating Father’s Day in our house wants for his daughter.
Find out more about Janice Evans-Davis at http://www.jevansdavis.com or via her social media links below.