Among the heirlooms handed down, generation to generation, to Brenda Marchbanks were several crocheted jabots, similar to those famously worn by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Now, Ginsburg has one of them, too.

Marchbanks donated it to the League of Women Voters, which in turn sent it to Ginsburg shortly after they sponsored a community showing of the documentary, “RBG.”

The story of how this fledgling chapter of a 98-year old organization ended up communicating with the champion of women’s rights is pure serendipity.

Marchbanks was walking down a Sonora street with an old friend. The friend saw someone she went to junior high with and went into the office to chat. The junior high friend was Nan Fuller, one of the founding members of the local League of Women Voters, and she was meeting with others to plan the movie event to introduce themselves to the community.

They selected the documentary about Ginsburg because they felt it could be a unifying event for the community. It describes her work as well as chronicles the deep friendship between liberal Ginsburg and conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

On that day earlier this year, the League group was talking about raffle items when Marchbanks said she had jabots made more than 100 years ago by her great-grandmother. She’d be happy to donate one.

When League President Patti Cherry saw them and how well they had been preserved, she realized the group needed to send one to Ginsburg.

Marchanks remembers Fuller saying, “This is over the top.”

The jabots not only were antiques, but also had been worn by her aunt, Nance M. (Annie) Noseworthy, an English professor in the 1930s in Massachusetts. She wore robes, adored with the frilly lace pieces at the neck, when she lectured.

And she was a feminist.

“Annie never married, as she chose to devote her life to higher education, the emancipation and justice of women, both in her teaching career and in retirement; organizing women’s events, penning editorial columns, tutoring, supporting literacy and writing poetry,” Marchbanks said in the note included in the box sent to Ginsburg.

When Noseworthy started teaching, women had been allowed to vote less than 10 years. Marchbanks said her aunt’s greatest joy was her drivers license and voter registration. Marchbanks created a presentation box to send to Ginsburg. It was a black lacquered wooden box with a flower painted on it. Inside was a jabot, a pin and ticket from the RBG event and some photos, along with Marchbanks’ note.

The photos showed the sold-out crowd in the Sonora High Auditorium and a group shot of League members, many wearing jabots.

Cherry sent a note as well, in which she to offered respectful admiration for Ginsburg’s life of service including 25 years on the Supreme Court. Cherry told Ginsburg about the night the movie was shown in which 550 people — a true cross section of the community — showed up.

“The evening revealed a deep hunger for non-partisanship regardless of socioeconomic and political differences in a conservative community, the evening was unprecedented,” Cherry wrote. “It was magical.”

Not many days passed before Cherry received a handwritten note on Supreme Court letterhead from Ginsburg that began, “The lace collar and jewel box arrived today and will be put to immediate use.”

She thanked the league and added a postscript especially for Marchbanks, which said, “I was touched by her aunt’s story.”

Marchbanks said she was honored that Ginsburg accepted the gift and wrote a personal note.

“I’m blown away,” she said. “She’s an amazing force and quite an honorable person.”

Marchanks hopes one day to see a photo of Ginsburg wearing the jabot crocheted by her Great-grandmother Tucker.

Contact Lyn Riddle at 209-588-4541 or lriddle@uniondemocrat.com

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