OXFORD – Equal pay for equal work. Women want it today and they wanted it back in the 60s.
“I had to suffer a little bit for it because they put more work on me,” said 93-year-old Estella Rushton, “I wasn’t going to let them think I was going to back down, so I did the work and we got along fine after that. We got equal pay.”
Rushton was interviewed by Sara Jewell in front of close to 100 people at the fifth annual International Women’s Day celebrations Saturday afternoon at the Capitol Theatre in Oxford.
Rushton touched on several topics in the interview, including when, back in the 60s, she worked in the equipment room at the Women’s Department of Physical Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
“I loved the job. I met so many wonderful people. Not only phys. ed people, but doctors and nurses and the faculty,” said Rushton. “I met so many people, and I love people. I made a lot of friends.”
One thing she didn’t love was the fact women didn’t get equal play for equal work, but that changed in the 60s when a union was brought into the university and demanded change.
“When I was working there I noticed the pay wasn’t fair,” said Rushton. “But, in the end, we got equal pay.”
Estella was born in Jersey, near Westchester, and married Murdock Rushton in 1946. After they were married they lived in Oxford.
Murdock was in the army, and they eventually left Oxford to live in Germany, Regina, Sask., and then in Kingston, Ont., where Estela worked at Queen’s University.
She became lifelong friends with many of the female phys ed students, some of who she still talks to today through Facebook.
“I think they kind of looked at me as a mother figure. They would tell me their troubles and I would listen,” said Rushton. “I had a good listening ear for them. I really made many great friends.”
She worked at Queen’s University for 18 years and came back to Oxford when Murdock retired from the army. Murdock died in 2006 shortly after the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
They have two children, four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Jewell asked Rushton what was the secret to a long and successful marriage.
“When you have an argument, you cannot just go out the door and leave. You have to settle it and talk about it,” said Rushton. “That’s the trouble today. There’s so many people who will not stop and talk about their problems.”
Humour also helps.
“You have to be happy and laugh at a lot of things. We had a lot of laughter in our home, believe you me,” said Rushton.
Family and faith has played a major role in Rushton’s life.
“My family is very important to me and my faith is very important to me,” said Rushton. “I think if you have faith in God you will have a good family life.”
Jewell finished the interview by asking Rushton what advice she has for young women today?
“Get a good education, don’t waste your time fooling around, and do everything you can to be happy, and have good friends,” said Rushton. “Also, I don’t believe in worrying about anything you have no control over. Stay happy instead of worrying about this, that and the other thing.”
The celebration also included a musical medley from the Cumberland Youth Choir. It was the first time the choir sang at International Women’s Day in Oxford. Also providing entertainment was Silver Rose, Deedre Greene, and the Cobequid Fun-tones. The Cobequid Fun-tones have sung at all five International Women’s Day events in Oxford.