You can learn a lot from obituaries — and recently there have been some great ones.
In February, it was Conchita Cintrón, a celebrated female bullfighter.
Cintrón, who retired from bullfighting after having killed as many as 750 bulls in the ring, died in Lisbon last month at the age of 86.
At eighteen, according to the obituaries, she was known as la Diosa Rubia, the Blond Goddess.
A headline about her in the New York Sun in 1940 read, "She’s a Timid Blue Eyed Girl But — She Kills Bulls Without Qualms."
"I have never had any qualms about it," she said. "A qualm or a cringe before 1,200 pounds of enraged bull would be sure death."
Lesson One in these political days: Don’t cringe when there are 1200 pounds of bull coming towards you…
My favorite obituary from this month so far is of Molly Kool, sea captain.
Kool qualified as a captain at age 23, the first woman in North America to be a licensed ship’s captain. She died last week at her home in Bangor, Maine, two days after her 93rd birthday.
One contemporary news account described Kool this way: "Her eyebrows are shaped and arched, her lips lightly rouged, her blonde hair up in feminine curls. That’s Miss Molly Kool ashore … but in her barge … she knows no fear …"
She was nothing if not pragmatic.
The New York Times notes one widely reported occasion when Kool’s ship, the Jean K collided with another in a dense fog and sent her hurtling overboard, where she risked being sucked under by the ship’s propeller. A piece of timber floated by and she grabbed it as the ship’s passengers hurled life preservers down at her.
"I’m already floating," Ms. Kool hollered up at her shipmates from the brink. "Stop throwing useless stuff at me and send a boat!"
Ahem! Anyone else hear an absolutely perfect message for these economic hard times?
When you’re already floating you don’t need more help to float. "Stop throwing useless stuff — and send a boat!"
Exactly. And to think, some say that feminist history’s over-rated. Happy Women’s History Month.
Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) on cable (8 pm ET on Channel 67 in Manhattan) and online daily at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com.