[Note: This interview is one of 100 conducted in Nevada County, California by Gary Quehl and his colleagues. One half of the interviews were conducted with “senior sage leaders” (Hazel Shewell being one of these senior sage leaders). The other 50 interviews were conducted with “emerging sage leaders” in Nevada County. All of those who were interviewed are actively involved in the ongoing development of their community.]
You have been identified by friends and colleagues as one of our community’s 50 top senior sage leaders. A sage leader is a person who brings unusual experience, sound judgment, and wisdom in working to advance the civic well-being of our community. We thank you for participating in our interview process.
1. To begin, how many years have you lived in Nevada County, and where in the county do you reside?
We moved to Nevada City 19 years ago and lived on Quaker Hill. After ten years, we moved into town due to my husband’s health.
2. Are you working, semi-retired, or retired? May I ask how old you are?
I am retired and will be 71 on my next birthday.
3. If you would, please share a bit about your personal history: where you grew-up; where you went to school and college; what organizations you have worked for and the positions you have held.
I grew up in England and was given quite a bit of responsibility as a small child during the war. While most everybody else was evacuated, we lived in the country about 15-20 miles from London. This was a key area for the bombing, but we didn’t leave because of my father’s business. My mother and I evacuated to the North of London, but she didn’t like it there so we returned home. Some of my early memories (age two or three) are of my father saying, “Now be a grown-up girl, and take Mommy to the air raid shelter.” So I would be sent out ahead, in the dark, to turn the lights on there. My mother had another child, who later died, who I also took to the shelter while my father was off on “Home guard duty” patrolling for possible parachuters.
Being the oldest in the family by a number of years, I was sent off to boarding school, Farringtons School for Girls, at the age of ten. My brother and sister were seven and ten years younger than I, so we were like two families. It was always me and then the other children. Many boarding school students came from other countries, but we became homogenized because there were only certain days we were allowed out with our parents. It didn’t matter that I was only five miles away from my home. The school was set-up in two big “houses” East House and West House with an equal number of girls plus the School House. Each house had its own teams, and we would compete against each other in sports. I played tennis, Lacrosse and netball, which is a sort of basketball game. We also played against other schools. At age 11 they put me on a debate team, and I was terrified because I was sent with other girls to debate other schools and I had never done anything like that before. I suppose because I talked a lot, they thought I must be able to debate! However, they didn’t really give me any training or exposure to it. I stayed at the boarding school until I was 17 ½, except for the year that my father took the whole family to Canada.Download Article 1K Club