We never expected to spend so much time with these uncommon common women. They came into our lives, near Bismarck, North Dakota, as a presentation for the Girl Scouts of America. That occasion, in 1991, introduced us to the concept of melding history with storytelling to fashion a performance about the lives of western women. We were as delighted by the experience of working together as we were by the warm reception we received from the Girl Scouts, though treading into the area of joint performance marked uncharted waters.
After our trip to North Dakota, flushed with the fun of our shared efforts, we decided to build on our ideas about the ordinary women who deserve attention for their western experience. We took our original presentation and added, deleted, reshaped, rethought. Within a short time, we found we had a performance that shifted and changed as we worked with it and as we became closer friends. Thus came into being the program we called Uncommon Common Women.
With an endorsement from the Utah Humanities Council and the power of word of mouth, Uncommon Common Women started to circulate through the Beehive State. We received invitations from women's groups, church organizations, historical societies, civic agencies, and individuals. We visited small towns, universities, and national and state forest campgrounds. In all of these places, audiences overwhelmed us with their enthusiastic response to this marriage of two mediums. Most especially, women, young and old, spoke about how Uncommon Common Women touched their memories and their hearts.
The joy of companionship, the intellectual pleasure of the performances, the warm reactions of listeners--these alone sustained us. Yet, time and again, people asked about our plans to publish a book. We deflected these inquiries with a laugh. It was enough to have bonded two such different styles.
We had not counted on the persuasive powers of Michael Spooner, director of the Utah State University Press. Through his vision, we came to see the potential for this book. He developed the practical approach to Uncommon Common Women as a literary presentation. We acknowledge our intellectual debt to him and thank him for adding another dimension to our work.
Nonetheless, each of us brought some fears to this project, because in it we have stepped aside from our usual categories of professional expertise. We worried about