Sally Reed Lived Here

Theme: Community; Year: 2009

Shared by Amy of Boise, ID

Sally Reed Lived HereWe bought our 1950s ranch house on the Boise Bench between Federal Way and Vista Avenue a little over six years ago. The proximity to downtown, BSU, the airport, and the freeway couldn't be better, and we were drawn in by the modest mid-century architecture of the urban, working class neighborhoods. A few summers ago, on a morning walk to a few yard sales and Albertsons, I noticed this small, nondescript monument on the corner of Dorian Street and Vista Avenue, directly in front of the Idaho Angler fly fishing shop. As flyfishers, we'd been to the shop before for supplies, but having entered through the parking lot I'd never noticed it.

Sally Reed lived in a two-story wood framed home, which, according to staff at Idaho Angler, was torn down ten years ago in 1999 to build the current store. Sally was separated from her husband, Cecil, when their young son, Richard, died in 1967. About seven months after Richard died, Sally filed a petition with Ada County to be the administrator of her son's estate, which included a few personal items and a small savings account totalling no more than $1000. Upon hearing this, Richard's father and Sally's ex-husband, Cecil, filed a competing petition to have himself appointed as the administrator of the estate. There was a hearing and the court appointed Cecil the administrator for no other reason than he was male, based upon an old discriminatory Idaho code. Sally bravely appealed this ruling, taking it to the Idaho Supreme Court and, ultimately, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s. On November 22, 1971, Chief Justice Warren Burger issued a unanimous decision which for the first time in history, declared a state law unconstitutional because it discriminated against women in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

I'd never heard of this woman or her remarkable civil rights case before and there isn't much out there in cyberspace about her, other than this link ( which gives greater detail about the court cases and this one ( on, a site devoted to little interesting monuments in the world. I am moved by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and every time I walk by this monument I get teared up. Clearly Sally Reed didn't push the envelope for money or greed and who knows if she even really knew that she was changing history in a truly revolutionary way. But now I do, and you do, and this tiny rock memorial to a single mother who lived on Vista Avenue for almost 65 years has made me a little more aware of what it means to be a woman, a mother, and a feminist. And I'm honored to live in her neighborhood.

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