The mayors of Bolingbrook: Patricia McDowell (1974) (Fiction)


In the early 1970s, the second wave of the feminist movement was in full swing. Many of the protections and rights women now take for granted were won during this time. Ideas once considered radical, like women should have equal opportunities, finally gained acceptance during this period.

During the middle of this time of transformation, the Bolingbrook trustees elected Patricia McDowell as the first female village president. Though to date, her presidency was the shortest tenure of all of Bolingbrook’s mayors, history will always remember her as a pioneer for all of Bolingbrook’s female political leaders.

Unfortunately, the Babbler at the time didn’t share the country’s growing acceptance of feminism. Publisher John Olson led the charge to have McDowell removed. His campaign reached a low point with the Babbler’s first and last interview with her. 

(2017: Content notice for the casual sexism of our former publisher. Sentiment NOT shared by current publisher.)

Did Village President McDowell punish the Babbler because it was that time of the month?

By John Olson
Publisher of the Bolingbrook Babbler

Village president Patricia McDowell invited me to her office after weeks of asking her for an interview. I graciously accepted the opportunity to explain to Mrs. McDowell why she was a bad example for the young ladies of Bolingbrook. She, like Betty Ford, is no lady, but I hoped to persuade her to reconsider her reckless fantasy that men would actually take orders from her.

As I stepped into her sparse office, I longed to see a women’s touch. She seemed out of place in a room once occupied by such manly men as Robert Schanks. Instead, there stood, this petite thing. She motioned for me to sit. I refused to sit until she sat. She sighed and then sat down.

McDowell: Let’s get this over with. I don’t appreciate going to Jewel and seeing my face on the cover of your tabloid. I really don’t like it when you insinuate that I’m cheating on my husband with an alien.

Olson: I have sources!

McDowell: What have I ever done to you? Why do you hate me?

Olson: I should be asking the questions. I’m the man in the room.

McDowell: And I’m the one in charge of the police department. Which by the way, I’ve noticed that our officers have been very forgiving whenever they see one of your reporters poking around Clow.

Olson: You don’t intimidate me.

McDowell: I’m not even trying to.

Olson: But I will answer your questions. I don’t hate you. I hate the fact that you are bringing your radical feminist baby killing man-hating ideas into village hall with the goal of corrupting our fine democracy and turning our village into a cesspool of communism and vegetarian feminism!

McDowell: Oh really?

Olson: Yes, and you’re a weak leader! You’ve already backed down against a sinister conspiracy to brainwash our citizens and turn us into slaves of the Octurian Alliance!

McDowell: I don’t follow you.

Olson: The signs, Mrs. McDowell! They’re putting messages in the signs, along with the communists, and you’re too nice to stop them from taking over.

McDowell: Oh, you’re upset that we didn’t enact the 90-day moratorium on new business signs. I told you at the meeting that you were welcome to do your own study–

Olson: We have done our own study. The messages are everywhere and you won’t stop them because you’re too weak. Schanks was right. Women don’t know which roles aren’t suited for them!

McDowell: And you don’t think I’m suited to be village president?

Olson: Of course not! You are the most important village president in the world! You control interstellar trade with Chicago. Yet you would rather advance an agenda that would force all housewives to get jobs, throw our children into orphanages, and cut off the testicles of all male residents. Now I think women should have some rights, like the right to decide how to clean their homes, but you want to push men into slavery! You want to force all residents to have surgery to remove all traces of gender. Just like the aliens of Zardos. You want to violate the universal foundation of every alien civilization which requires that all women submit to their males.

McDowell: It’s funny how all the aliens in your stories seem to share your beliefs.

Olson: What are you trying to say?

McDowell: I’m just saying it strikes me as funny that all of your aliens seem to reflect your beliefs.

Olson: My aliens? Oh, I get it. But then again you’re a woman so you wouldn’t understand. Just like my wife doesn’t understand, but she supports me, unlike you.

McDowell: Why would I support you? You’ve been nothing but condescending towards me ever since I first ran for trustee.

Olson: You know what I meant! No, I take that back. You don’t know what I meant. Because you are a woman! Your role is to have babies and support your husband. All women have a role to play, and business to attend to. You and all other women have no business being village president of Bolingbrook! You, and other young women like you, are the reason that God will smite Bolingbrook.

McDowell: And yet God always postpones his smiting for another week. I read the Babbler too, you know.

Olson: That’s good. So why don’t you resign, and spend more time trying to understand the Babbler? Then you’ll know why it’s important to support families.

McDowell: Mr. Olson. A young man sent me letter the other day. He said that he has a vision for Bolingbrook. In his vision, he sees village trustees, female, male, white, black and Hispanic all voting as one for the greater good of Bolingbrook. He sees a village where experience and education are valued over biology. Then I read your vision of Bolingbrook, and I feel sad. No, I just feel sorry for you.

Olson: Sorry for me? How dare you feel sorry for me. I am the voice of Bolingbrook. I created Bolingbrook’s first and only true tabloid.

McDowell: Except The Beacon was the first newspaper.

Olson: It was a newsletter then, and today it is just an oversized newsletter. I publish the truth! I know that the truth is unbelievable, and I still publish it! Because I am a man, and men must do what men do! I will do this! I will stand up to you.

McDowell: So you really don’t think I should be the village president.

Olson: I didn’t say that. Stop putting words in my mouth! I said is that you shouldn’t be out of the home at all. Big difference. And I will fight to have you taken away from your prison and put back in your home, where you belong.

McDowell: (pauses) You are welcome to say that. After all, it is in the First Amendment. However, the village doesn’t have to pay for your right to speak out against me.

Olson: What are you saying?

McDowell: The other villages presidents have been very lenient with their definition of what a paper of record is. After this conversation, it’s clear to me, and to the other board members, that the Babbler doesn’t qualify as a paper of record. It’s more like a work of fiction by a bitter man.

Olson: You wouldn’t dare! I’ll tell your husband on you. He’ll make you back down. No, I don’t have to do that. No one in the village hall will do what you say. The Babbler is a Bolingbrook institution! You can’t have Bolingbrook without the Babbler!

McDowell: We’ll find out if that’s true. (Presses a button on her phone.) Cancel all official announcements in the Babbler until further notice.

Voice: Yes?.

McDowell: Please stop buying space in the Babbler until further notice. We will post official announcements elsewhere. Now, Mr. Olson, I may not be able to physically intimidate anyone, but thanks to my ability to work with others, you are now out of a major source of income.

Olson: Oh you may be acting tough, but I’ll write up this interview and the world will know what kind of person you are! The Babbler will always be the paper of record, no matter what you say!

McDowell: I think its time for you to leave.

Olson (pauses): Out of respect for your husband, I will leave!

Just like an emotional woman at that time of the month, the Babbler is being victimized! Rest assured, the Babbler will work hard to put a man back in charge of Bolingbrook and restore The American Way to our community!

McDowell had to resign a few months later due to her husband accepting a job in Denver, CO. Though a man cut short her carrier as mayor, her legacy lives on. Today Sara Langston is the editor of the Babbler, and we publish stories from both male and female reporters. We and the village of Bolingbrook have come a long way, baby.

Tomorrow:  Village President James Johnston feels the heat from the Babbler.