by Genie Phillips aka Zuchinni
If you look at the March 1975 cover of the O.B. Rag – which was just recently posted online here – with the caption ‘International Woman’s Day’, you see a group of women, and one small kid waving a flag, marching on the O.B. pier in support of International Women’s Day.
To the far right is Nancy Little, in her often-present overalls. At her side, her seven-year old son Paul is merrily waving his flag, just having fun in the festivities.
Joe Cocker sang, “And Every Picture Tells A Story Don’t It…..”
How telling that Nancy should pass on one week after her picture appears once again on the pages of the OB Rag some 35 years later. I wonder if she saw it. I hope so. She loved Ocean Beach.
This picture tells the story of a courageous group of women. These women, and others that sprouted up all over the country, and world, were saying ‘no more’. They faced ridicule and condemnation in order to promote the plight of equality for women everywhere. Yes, they burned their bras, quit shaving their legs, and refused the powder, paint and high heeled shoes. And indeed, this drew attention, not always or nearly ever positive.
These Feminists, Women’s ‘Libers’, usually referred to as ‘dykes’, were sending a message, in essence. I’m not a doll, I’m not a ‘chick’, not a trophy or sex object. I cannot be bought, sold, or owned. I am a human being, and deserve respect and privilege afforded the other half of society. They bound together in ‘sisterhood’ and fought the battle on all grounds, political, as well as legal, but especially personal.
Nancy Little was one of those stouthearted women.
Her wry sense of humor was stunning. With her southern drawl and simple blunt delivery, one never knew if she were joking or not. Most of the time, I believe, it was just her telling her truths, that perhaps others were hesitant to express. She also was absolutely brilliant. Her knowledge of history and politics was awesome to me. She read books that befitted a college professor. I was in complete admiration of her intellect.
We came together in the early 70’s through our involvement in the anti-Vietnam War Movement, when Ocean Beach was a haven of counter-culture activity. The O.B. Rag, People’s Food Store, O.B. Free School, and the movement to stop O.B. from becoming Miami Beach, were a few of the many activities of the day. But one of the things that drew us together was the fact that we were both struggling single mothers.
Being in Ocean Beach at that time enabled us to have the support and extended family we were lacking. All of those activist people took our boys, Paul and David, under their wings and showered them with love and security. They became brothers, and Paul became my #2 son, lifelong.
I have more memories with Nancy during those times we were together in the 70’s than I have with nearly anyone. Some are wonderful, some are painful, but all of them are precious, if only for the lessons learned. We were partners in crime, and sisters in solidarity. She owns a piece of my heart, and always will, whether I like it or not. She was just like that.
Nancy loved to have fun, loved adventures, and was always ready to listen to music long into the night. I think she knew the words to every Joan Biaz song there was, and would sing along, (a little out of turn! she didn’t care). If I listen carefully I can hear her sing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, or bellowing out Rockie Racoon, emphasizing the line…”and everyone knew her as Nancy”.
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights was also a favorite of hers, and once when I heard it I dropped off an e-mail to her, saying, “Hey, remember this?” The following is her response I found in my old e-mails:
Hello!Never will forget!Details?What?Really glad at this time in my life that I’v had some wasted days and wasted nights.That don’t seem so wasted at this time in my life.Have met more than a few women over the years that can only wish for a few wasted nights in Mexico or a warm beach. Still have some room left in this life for a few more adventures.Oh!Yes! Next time that you come to the Bay Area come on out to the Island . Thanks for writing.
Here’s another one I found, and if you knew her, you can probably hear her:
Hello!How are you?
Looks like I’ll still be here in Alameda in Sept.Are you still heading up here?If so hopefully you can find some time to come over a bridge or through a tunnel to get together.I still am staying in the same place.One room but one of the very few places I can smoke and watch TV sitting on the bed at the same time.Don’t ask much from live but it’s sure hard to find it anymore.
If you wanna spend the night ut will give me a reason to go get a blow up bed that plugs into the wall.Had a pump one in Oregon my foot got tired.
My usual days off from work are Tue,Wed and Friday.I’m able to trade days or get sick. Write Back.
I never did make it up there, but the night before she passed, her son Paul called me and put her on the speaker phone and I got to hear her voice for a moment. Thank you Paul. I wish I had gotten the chance to say “I love you”.
So the page turns, and the story continues. Nancy gave so much for the rights of the down trodden and justice for all. We have much to thank her for. She may have not done everything right, or conventionally. I certainly have not. But she left us with so much. Her legacy, (fondly referred to by many), the “Incredible ” Paul Little.
Paul Little, often used as one word, “paullittle” was the kid with the deep voice, and the high water pants, cruzin around O.B. and a stranger to none. Who would have ever dreamed he would turn into the man he has, under the sometimes difficult circumstances. I am so proud of him. He lives in the Bay Area, has been working as a grounds patrol officer at the San Francisco Library since 1997. His wife Monique is in graduate school, and a real jewel. They have two sons, Tristan, 17, and Julian 15. Tristan will be attending college next year.
Paul and I have communicated this foreseeable event for quite some time. He told me Nancy’s wish was that her ashes be brought back to O.B., and he would fulfill that dream.
The plans now are that he and his family will come down on the weekend of April 22. He wishes to have a ‘gathering’, or party on that weekend for anyone who wants to attend.
Nancy had her troubles at the end of her life. As some know she lived at a homeless center. She left no provision for Paul to deal with her ending, nor for the trip. I have received permission from Paul to attach his “paypal” account for anyone else who would like to contribute. I know he would love to see any of you that can or want to attend.
You have touched many lives Nancy Little. I don’t think you ever knew how much you were loved.
For the Paypal account for Paul Little, please go to his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org – go to PayPal and select the “send” tab.