When Annie Oakley was reported to have been arrested, disheveled and "destitute" by newspapers across the country the news "almost killed her." For someone who had worked her whole life, doing something that women did not do and no man could beat her at, she was not going to be taken down by scandal. Nope. That was not how she was going down. She demanded all newspapers retract the falsehood, telling them quite plainly that "someone will pay for this dreadful mistake"- and that a burlesque dancer claiming her name was the woman in question. Newspapers quickly retracted the story, many apologized. But that was not good enough for Miss Annie Oakley. She had come too far scratching her way up for air. She went after no other than William Randolph Hearst, mogul, larger than life American publisher, suing him for a whopping $25,000. Hearst came after her like a wild dog, even going so far as to send a detective to dig up dirt on Annie. He found not so much as a speck. Annie spent the next six years of her life not performing but travelling the country taking no less than 55 newspapers to court. When she would take the stand she was said to have "an air of perfect refinement." Of course she did. Would she approach it any other way?
Annie won 54 of the 55 lawsuits and Hearst had to pay her $27,000. In the end she lost money, most of it going to attorney's fee's but she didn't care, not one bit. That wasn't what it was about. She set her eye on clearing her name and to her nothing else mattered. Annie once again hit her mark.
I am fascinated by this part of her history. I think it shows what Annie Oakley was made of more than any tale of her sharpshooting skill. In the beginning of the 1900's women did not even possess the right to vote, but Annie Oakley takes on one of the most powerful men in the country. She dares to not only speak up but do it with a clear eyed iron fist in velvet glove style.
I love this woman. I want to be this woman.
Have you ever set your eye on something with this much intensity? Ever had a goal that was so clear to you that you would not part with it for anyone? -- Knowing your life's path so completely that no one could dissuade you from it?
I imagine she was mocked and misunderstood, downright ridiculed for taking such a strong stance to guard what was hers and hers alone; her name and what it stood for. I almost see the scorn, hear the whispers--- "She got her apology, what more does this woman want?"
Annie was one of the first American women to publicly say that she was going to write her own destiny, no help needed thanks. She would decide what it would be.
Man or woman I wonder if I would be that strong, focused, steely eyed. It is said that 80% of success is just showing up. I think it goes farther. What Annie showed us was that if you truly believe in what your given path is you will not only make it happen but you will do it in a way that sets that path on fire, announcing your arrival.
What if we all did that?