Now, for the first time in paperback, here is the remarkable story of Sandra Day O'Connor's family and early life, her journey to adulthood in the American Southwest that helped make her the woman she is today--the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of the most powerful women in America. In this illuminating and unusual book, Sandra Day O'Connor tells, with her brother, Alan, the story of the Day family, and of growing up on the harsh yet beautiful land of the Lazy B ranch in Arizona.
Laced throughout these stories about three generations of the Day family, and everyday life on the Lazy B, are the lessons Sandra and Alan learned about the world, self-reliance, and survival, and how the land, people, and values of the Lazy B shaped them. This fascinating glimpse of life in the Southwest in the last century recounts an important time in American history, and provides an enduring portrait of an independent young woman on the brink of becoming one of the most prominent figures in America.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 08, 2003
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Lazy B by Sandra Day O'Connor
Chapter 1 Early Memories When Time, who steals our years away, Shall steal our pleasure, too, The Memory of the past will stay, And half our joys renew. -Thomas Moore, "Song" The earliest memory is of sounds. In a place of all-encompassing silence, any sound is something to be noted and remembered. When the wind is not blowing, it is so quiet you can hear a beetle scurrying across the ground or a fly landing on a bush. Occasionally an airplane flies overhead-a high-tech intrusion penetrating the agrarian peace. When the wind blows, as it often does, there are no trees to rustle and moan. But the wind whistles through any loose siding on the barn and causes any loose gate to bang into the fence post. It starts the windmills moving, turning, creaking. At night the sounds are magnified. Coyotes wail on the hillside, calling to each other or to the moon-a sound that sends chills up the spine. We snuggle deeper in our beds. What prey have the coyotes spotted? Why are they howling? What are they doing? Just before dawn the doves begin to call, with a soft cooing sound, starting the day with their endless search for food. The cattle nearby walk along their trail near the house, their hooves crunching on the gravel. An occasional moo to a calf or to another cow can be heard, or the urgent bawl of a calf that has lost contact with its mother, or the low insistent grunt, almost a growl, of a bull as it walks steadily along to the watering trough or back out to the pasture. The two huge windmills turn in the wind, creaking as they revolve to face the breeze, and producing the clank of the sucker rods as they rise and fall with each turn of the huge fan of the mill. The Lazy B Ranch straddles the border of Arizona and New Mexico along the Gila River. It is high desert country-dry, windswept, clear, often cloudless. Along the Gila the canyons are choked with cottonwoods and willows. The cliffs rise up sharply and are smooth beige sandstone. The water flowing down the riverbed from the Gila Wilderness to the northeast is usually only a trickle. But sometimes, after summer rains or a winter thaw in the mountains, the river becomes an angry, rushing, mud-colored flood, carrying trees, brush, rocks, and everything else in its path. Scraped into the sandstone bluffs are petroglyphs of the Anasazi of centuries past. Their lives and hardships left these visible traces for us to find, and we marvel at their ability to survive as long as they did in this harsh environment. High up on one of the canyon walls is a small opening to a cave. A few ancient steps are cut out of the bluff leading to it. To reach it now requires climbing apparatus-ropes and pitons. The cave's inner walls have been smoothed with mud plaster, and here and there is a handprint, hardened when the mud dried, centuries ago. Every living thing in the desert has some kind of protective mechanism or characteristic to survive-thorns, teeth, horns, poison, or perhaps just being too tough to kill and eat. A human living there quickly learns that anything in the desert can hurt you if you are not careful and respectful. Whatever it is can scratch you, bite you, or puncture you. When riding horseback, you have to watch where you are going. The branch of a hardy bush can knock you off; a hole in the ground covered with grass can cause your horse to stumble or fall. When you take a spill, it might be onto a rock or a cactus. When you get off your horse, it pays to look first to avoid stepping in an ant den, on a scorpion, or in the path of a snake. Over the years, Alan, Ann, and I each had our share of falls from a horse, insect bites, injuries, and other dangerous events, which we learned just came with the territory. South of the Gila and to the east, the land is flat. For some ten miles it is covered with short burro grass and hummocks of tabosa grass. There are soapweeds-tall, hairy-looking yuccas, some with