- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- Sonia's write-up of her experiences with Hurricane Irma in Sarasota in September of 2017 appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine of July/Aug. 2018 in the Class Notes for her class, the class of 1950, on page 69.
- On March 20, 2018, Mary Wilson, president of the Greater Orlando, FL chapter of NOW, put the following write-up by Sonia on her blog.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories.
- Sonia participates in a one-hour webinar set up by the National Women's History Project (NWHP) on Jan. 13, 2016. 1) Click here to read about NWHP. 2) To listen to the oral comments and see the written comments, click on "webinar archive" toward the bottom of your screen. On the "webinar archive" screen, it is, however, very difficult to move the written comments up or down. 3) To get a clearer view of the written comments and to be able to move them up and down easily, click on "Chat Log." 4) Click on "Final PowerPoint Presentation" if you would like to see that.
- Sonia's article on the second wave of the women's movement: its origin, accomplishments, and the problems that remain--both in the U.S. and globally--appeared on June 14, 2015, on the website of the Institute for Science and Human Values.
- Sonia's write-up appeared on the Facebook page of the Red Star Line Museum commemorating the 81st anniversary of the arrival in the U.S. from Germany, via Belgium, of Sonia and the rest of her immediate family. (May 1, 2015).
- On Feb. 8, 2015, Sonia's article about her life went online on the website of Encore.org, a website that features articles by people about the second half of their lives.
- "The Night My Father Ran Away from His Own Wedding," the first chapter of Sonia's memoir, and "A Visit to Piltz," her article about her 2001 trip to the shtetl [village] in Poland where her parents were born, are on the website of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014 in Warsaw. Click on "Show More" at the bottom of each screen until you come to the screen with Sonia's two stories.
- "My Jewish Weekend in Sarasota," sent by Sonia to her friends, Nov. 16, 2014.
- "History Without Hitler?", Op-Ed in the New York Times and its international edition, October 26, 2014. This Op-Ed was written by Sonia's friend, Timothy Ryback, and edited by Sonia.
- "End of Life Issue," October 16, 2014.
- “Top 18 Issues Challenging Women Today,” The Shriver Report, May 5, 2014.
- Sonia’s letter of April 16, 2014, to Bishop Frank J. DeWane, bishop of the Venice, FL diocese, is on the blog of Bridget Mary Meehen.
- "Eighty-five Years Old in Sarasota County, Florida," write-up submitted by Sonia on April 12, 2014, on her life as a senior woman, to Marjorie Penn Lasky, who is writing a book on senior women today and how their lives differ from those of senior women in the past.
- “The Second Wave of the Women’s Movement—Past, Present, and Future,” Women You You Should Know website, March 26, 2014.
- Sonia reminisces about her three British feminist friends, March 25, 2014.
- Three-part series by Sonia in the Sullivan County Democrat, a newspaper in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
- Sonia’s submission to the book Mother Knows Better - Sense and Nonsense from American Moms by Patti Murphy is one of over two hundred momisms in the book.
- Sonia’s article about the travails of The Forward after Superstorm Sandy appeared in Der Bay (Vol. XXIII, No. II, Mar.-Apr. 2013, p. 12).
- NOW (National Organization for Women) Founder Sonia Fuentes Gives Back To Education.
- "A heart-healthy diet is easier to adhere to than it may seem, especially with plenty of grocery and restaurant choices in Sarasota," December 7, 2012. (To see this article, which first appeared in the online Sarasota News Leader, once the large picture appears, scroll down to the article.) On April 27, 2015, the article was published on the website of Vegan Everyday Stories. On May 22, 2015, a shortened version of the article appeared on the website of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- “A Journey of Discovery,” Sonia’s article about her September 2011 week’s trip to Germany exploring Jewish life in Germany, published in two parts.
- "Finding My Identity as a Feminist" - This article appeared in the online magazine, Identity, on September 21, 2011.
- "My Story" - This article appeared in HavaMag, Issue 4, August, 2011.
- To access the article:
- Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left.
- Click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10.
- When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.
- To access the article:
- "First Woman: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," appeared at the end of July 2011 in Ms. JD, an e-zine for women law students and lawyers.
- “Judging Our Future: Supreme Women Move Up,” about the increasing percent of women judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, went online in the Café section of On the Issues e-zine on December 21, 2010. In February of 2012, the article was added to the featured news & comments section of the website of Cornell University’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
- "Advancing Rights: 1964 Marks the Beginning of a New Era" - This article was published in On The Issues Magazine, Café section, on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women’s Equity Day, the 90th anniversary of suffrage, August 26, 2010.
- Sonia has written articles for Scitable, a website for women in science, or been introduced as a resource on women and employment law for Scitable, as follows:
- Sonia decries American women’s ignorance of the legal rights they have achieved since the early 1960s and lists those rights. (August 13, 2013)
- Sonia discusses breast implant ruptures and leaks. (Mar. 21, 2011)
- "Sonia Pressman Fuentes on Pregnancy Leave, Parental Care Leave, and the Law" - Sonia explains the law on leave and benefits in connection with pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. (July 28, 2010)
- Correction to posting of June 3, 2010, introducing Sonia as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 4, 2010)
- Sonia is introduced as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 3, 2010)
- "My Life After Divorce" - Sonia discusses her life after divorce for a “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. (2010)
- "A Negative Experience, A Positive Outcome" - The lucky day Fuentes was fired. (2009)
- "First Wedding at the Fontainebleau," an unpublished anecdote, November 23, 2008.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, Oct. 2009, and updated in Nov. 2013.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come—The Birth of A Yiddish Club,” published in Der Bay, The International Anglo-Yiddish Newsletter (Vol. XVII, No. 9, Nov. 2007). Sonia starts a Yiddish Club in Sarasota, FL. Also published in the Gantseh Megillah. (Nov. 14, 2007, Issue 8.10)
- "My Fortuitous Escape from the Holocaust and My Life Thereafter" - This article is published on a Web site called "Women and the Holocaust." (2006)
- “A Love Letter to Ostuni” (2005)
- "My Visit to Piltz" - A sequel to "A Visit to Piltz." (2005)
- "Three-hour Tour Turns Unforgettable" - This article, by Fuentes, recalling the saga of her trip to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford estates in Ft. Myers, FL, appeared in The East County Observer, a newspaper in East Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida, January 16, 2003.
- "I Lucky Everything: The Story of a Real `Miss Saigon'" - Along with a manicure, a reminder of how immigrants revitalize our nation. (2002)
- "A Visit to Piltz" - This article is about Fuentes' August 2001 journey to her parents' birthplace, a village called Piltz in Poland. (2001)
- In 2000, Sonia lectured on “How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life” at Cornell University and thereafter gave varying versions of that talk at other venues. Articles on that subject have appeared in: 120 HIAS Stories, a book published to commemorate the 120th anniversary of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) (July 2002), Women in Judaism, a Multidisciplinary Journal (April 2006), the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish News (January 2007), the website of the Museum of Family History, and Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs (Vol. XX, No. 1, Jan. 2010).
- "How I Built a Life in Retirement" - Sonia had a difficult time adjusting to retirement, and then she entered the best years of her life. (2000)
- "How I Published My Memoir: A Lawyer-Feminist's Story" - This is the story of the six years Fuentes spent in researching, writing, publishing and marketing her memoir and making the transition from being a lawyer to a writer and public speaker. (Also see: "How I Got Published in South Africa) (2000)
- "A Seder in Shanghai" - Fuentes participates in a seder in a most unlikely city, Shanghai, China. This piece appeared previously in JoyZine and on Harry Leichter's website. (1999)
- "HUD Goes to the Moscow Trade Show" - This article was originally published in Sparks 28. March - April, 1999. (1999)
- Breast Cancer and Ruptured/Leaking Breast Implants - The story of Fuentes' experience with breast cancer. (1998)
- "Three United States Feminists: A Personal Tribute" - This article is about Fuentes' most memorable encounters with Alice Paul, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Catherine East (1998). Later that year, a slightly different version of this article was published in Moondance.
- “Representing Women,” a 17-page article, originally published in Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies (Vol. 18, No.3, Nov. 3, 1997), by the Washington State University Press, is available by emailing Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org and asking her to email it to you or by purchasing it at jstor.org. This was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights.
- "House of History" - A history of the Sewall-Belmont House, one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, is the story of the current headquarters of the National Woman's Party. (1996)
- "Magnolias" - A Washington, DC, love story. (1996)
- "Family Past Unfolds Like Detective Story" - Research Leads to Ship's Records, a Movie and Snapshots. (1995)
- “Impressions: The Status of Women in Southeast Asia,” published in the Common Law Lawyer (no longer in existence), Sept.-Oct. 1978. (To enlarge the print on machines using Windows, hold down the control button of your computer while moving the wheel of your mouse. If viewing through Adobe Acrobat, enlarge the text with the plus button, or use the percentage dropdown list.)
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Eighty-five Years Old in Sarasota County, Florida
At the age of eighty-five, I find myself living in Sarasota County, Florida where I am experiencing the richest phase of my life. I am actively involved as a community and feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. How did that happen and how does it differ from the lives of women my age in the past?
Sarasota County includes the City of Sarasota, but my condo is outside the city limits and in the county.
I was born in Berlin, Germany in 1928 of Polish Jewish parents who had lived in Germany for many years. Five years after my birth, Adolf Hitler was named Reich Chancellor of Germany. My brother, Hermann, who was fourteen years my senior, immediately saw the threat Hitler posed to Germany’s Jews and urged my parents to leave Germany. We left in the summer of 1933, going first to Antwerp, Belgium, and, when we couldn’t get visas to remain in Belgium, we boarded the Red Star Line’s S.S. Westernland, arriving in New York City on May 1, 1934. In 1936, my family moved to the Catskill Mountains of New York State, where my father, previously in the men’s clothing business, went into the summer resort business. He built and ran a 25-bungalow colony on fifty acres of land in Monticello, New York. I graduated as valedictorian of my high school class in 1946 and went on to Cornell University, from which I graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1950.
After graduation from Cornell, I could not find a job until I went to business school and studied shorthand. (I’d already taken typing in high school.) After that, I immediately found a job and worked as a secretary in New York City. After several years, I felt I was getting nowhere fast, so in 1954 I began attending the University of Miami (FL) School of Law. At that time, about 3 percent of the nation’s law school graduates were women. I graduated from law school first in my class in 1957, and moved to Washington, D.C., where I began work as an attorney with the federal government. I spent the next twenty years as an attorney with several federal agencies and another ten years as an attorney and executive with two major corporations. The most significant work I did, however, involved the following: I was a cofounder of NOW (National Organization for Women) and the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
After my retirement in 1993, I did two things that changed the course of my life: I spent 5 1/2 years researching and writing my memoir, Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, which was published in November 1999, and I moved to Sarasota, Florida.
Since that time, I have been busier than ever in my life. I am a community and feminist activist, writer, and public speaker.I am constantly being interviewed about my historic role as a founder of the second wave of the women’s movement and showered with honors.
There were several factors that led to my leading the life I have led and continue to lead. From the age of ten, I felt that there was a purpose to my life, a mission I had to accomplish, and that I was not free as other girls and women were simply to marry, raise a family, and pursue happiness. This feeling arose from three factors in my life: I had been born only because my mother’s favored abortionist was out of Germany, my immediate family and I had escaped the Holocaust, and I was bright. To me, that meant that I had been saved to make a contribution to the world. I found that purpose when I joined the EEOC and began my involvement in the fight for women’s rights, which continues to this day.
I began coming to Sarasota County in 1994 as a snowbird and then moved here full-time on November 1, 2006. I came here because I had one friend who had moved here who strongly urged me to visit. As fate would have it, I came to a unique community. Sarasota County has a population of about 400,000 (with many more people during the winter season) but it has the amenities of a much larger place. It is known for its culture and art and has every organization and activity one could possibly imagine. It has a symphony, ballet, opera house, a 20-screen movie theater, several other theaters (including the unique Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe), and a senior friendship center. It has an annual film festival, an annual Jewish Film Festival, and an annual UN Women’s Film Festival. It is home to Florida’s honors college, New College of Florida, and also has the Sarasota-Manatee campus of the University of South Florida. And, of course, there is the weather. We do not ever have to worry about snow and ice—although our summers are hot and humid and the threat of a hurricane looms over us. One does, however, have to have the financial wherewithal to live here and enjoy what Sarasota has to offer.
Sarasota is nirvana for senior citizens. Florida has the greatest proportion of people who are at least sixty-five of any state in the United States. Among Florida’s counties, Sarasota County has the third-highest percentage of residents aged sixty-five and over, the second-highest percentage of residents aged seventy-five and over, and the highest percentage of residents aged eighty-five and over. As of 2010, over 30 percent of Sarasota’s total resident population was over sixty-five. Nationally, just under 13 percent of the population is over sixty-five. It is projected that by 2030 40 percent of Sarasota County’s population will be sixty-five and over. Females significantly outnumber males at older ages, but the gap is narrowing. In the 2010 Census, there were about twice as many women as men beginning at age eighty-nine.
Like others who live here, I am grateful daily to be living in paradise with the full schedule of social and cultural activities in which I am involved. I work out at the Y, usher for a local theater, belong to a number of organizations, and have a steady round of lunches, dinners, movies, and theater with friends and organizations.
In the past, senior citizens did not lead the kind of life available to them in Sarasota today. My image of a senior in the past is of an elderly man or woman sitting in a rocking chair in the back room of one of their adult children’s homes waiting to die. That is not the life style of the lucky seniors who have the health and finances to live in Sarasota.
©2014 Sonia Pressman Fuentes