Editor’s Page

Winter 2016

Dear Readers,

Parietal rules, curfews, no pants past the post office, boys (men?) allowed upstairs only on Sunday afternoons, with the door open, and, yes, getting pinned: life in college during the ‘50s. None of the hijinks described by Ann Tracy in her story “Quiet Girls” (no snow where I went to school, for one), but once the frat boys water ballooned a peace rally at which a socialist visiting professor was speaking. I started dating the man I married at the beginning of freshman year, was pinned sophomore year. Kept my virginity. Got married shortly after graduation. I was definitely a Good Girl (see Charlotte Mandel’s poem, “Crossing the Calendar Bridge”), a Quiet Girl. You can see why Ann Tracy’s story resonated for me – as do so many of the stories you submit to Persimmon Tree. It is hard to imagine my 21-year- old granddaughter reminiscing about similar experiences from her undergraduate years.

Meanwhile, something totally different that occurred to me while I was exploring Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s fabulous artwork: Some of her work made me think of the Lascaux caves, which makes me wonder: Why do historians, anthropologists and art historians assume the 17,300-year old Lascaux cave paintings were done by men? Seems clear to me that women were decorating their homes while the men were out hunting. I think Smith’s painting, Herd, might prove my point.


Happy reading, everyone!
Sue Leonard



For 45 years, Sue Leonard taught every variety of history except American mostly at independent high schools for girls — with a brief stint in a poverty program school for pregnant teens in Bedford Stuyvesant. In the mid-nineties she and her late husband John Leonard were co-editors of the Books and Arts section of the Nation Magazine. Since retiring, Sue has filled up her days with reading, needlework, family, friends and long walks.

2 thoughts on “Editor’s Page

  1. Sue Leonard

    Actually, the painting here is by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, but you make my point exactly: how like Lascaux is her wholly modern work! My exegisis is more about societal expectations (men do religion, men do art) ad social reality (women have just as much talent and, possibly, more time to create beauty than about the execution of the art. Just possibly.

  2. Catharine Lucas

    I too would assume women were among the cave artists — and as I studied the print from Lescaux, I wanted to read on , to hear your exegisis about the painting, and what made the artist’s gender seem so obvious to you! Tell, on!


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