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1985_09_01--142_SP Her Honor Rancher's Daughter

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST As youngsters, the two oldest O'Connor "wranglers," Scott and Brian, enjoyed "rounding 'em up and heading 'em out" with their grandfather Harry A. Day. 43 just about every morning." As the first female on the Supreme Court, she feels an enormous responsibility to do her job well so that people will recognize that women properly belong in this and similar jobs. "It's been touching to see how women of all ages have responded to the appointment of a woman in this Court," she says, "with an outpouring of appreciation that it happened and a feeling of encouragement that the appointment gave them." Sitting back in her office chair, the vivacious 55-year-old justice (6 years younger than the next youngest of the "brethren") reflects on her childhood and the encouragement she received from her family. Growing up on the sprawling "Lazy B" ranch in harsh, sun-baked southeastern Arizona made her life more of a challenge. Because her sister and her brother were much younger, she grew up as a virtual single child. Her early childhood companions consisted of her parents, cowboys and a large assortment of animals, including a large bobcat ("when he purred you could hear him all over the house") and a few javelina hogs. For entertainment, the young Sandra Day would ride horses and read. She also learned to drive a car on the ranch at age seven and could handle a truck and a tractor at ten. As she explains it, no other entertainment was really available besides working on the ranch. "My mother said that before I could walk, one of the cowboys, of whom I was particularly fond, would take me riding with him sitting on the saddle. I always loved horses; that was an important part of my childhood. The other thing, I guess, was reading, because there weren't that many people of my age around; none, in fact, unless I brought them to visit. I would read a lot because my parents had many books, many more than most people in that area." Justice O'Connor recalls with a laugh the "mad dash" by everyone in the family for each so much more to us, living out where we did." Living on the ranch, however, had its drawbacks. When it came time for Sandra to go to school, the choices were limited. Because there were no schools in the area, "my parents had to make a decision," she remembers. "My mother's mother was living in El Paso, Texas, and so my family chose to send me to live with her. I lived with grandmother from kindergarten through high school, except for one year. She was a wonderful person—very supportive of me. She would always tell me that I could do anything I wanted to do. She was convinced of that, and it was very encouraging. I was as close to my grandmother as to my mother. I was lucky having two such loving, affectionate mothers." When she was 16, Sandra Day graduated from high school and headed west to enroll in Stanford University, where she majored in economics. At that time, she had no thought of lawyering, but rather of owning and managing a ranch of her week's Saturday Evening Post. "It was funny," she says, "to see members of the family clamoring to read a serial or trying to read a cartoon. When I think about it, reading meant Since 1981 Sandra Day O'Connor has put the Court before the horse. But in 1979 the Phoenix Parada del Sol allowed her to mount up and relive a few happy moments of her Lazy B background.


1985_09_01--142_SP Her Honor Rancher's Daughter
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