Betty Hogg of Guelph, Ont., remembers her brief foray into beauty pageants fondly, though she admits if she could go back, she’d think twice about getting into them.
“I didn’t know any better,” said Hogg, who now calls herself a “real women’s libber.”
Elgin County Archives recently shared a black-and-white photo from 1949 of Hogg and eight other pageant contestants at the West Lorne Beauty Contest in southwestern Ontario. The young women stand tall in their bathing suits and heels, and flash their brightest, widest smiles. At 16, Hogg is fourth from the left.
I was always the odd one. I couldn’t learn. I couldn’t memorize. I couldn’t do spelling.– Betty Hogg
After marrying twice, raising five children and working odd jobs in many parts of this province, Hogg is sharing the part of her story that dramatically changed her outlook on life. At 78, Hogg’s family physician diagnosed her with both dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“It just made all the difference in the world,” Hogg told London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen. “You think that you’re stupid. I knew I wasn’t lazy because I never sat down to relax. I was driven.”
At the time that photograph was taken, Hogg was in the middle of a tumultuous childhood that saw her family move across southern Ontario over and over, from town to town, and then her parents separated. Eventually, Hogg was sent to live with relatives.
Moving around was a pattern for Hogg.
“I had 36 different addresses in the first 34 years of my life.”
Not surprisingly, Hogg struggled in school. But there was something else going on.
“I couldn’t pass things, but I kept trying.”
Hogg never earned her high school diploma, but over the years she enrolled in a number of college and university courses nonetheless. She rarely passed.
Feminism and travel
By the mid-1970s, Hogg, while living in St. Catharines, had begun listening with interest to Laura Sabia, a one-time city councillor who hosted a radio show, in which she advocated for the rights of women. Sabia’s work resulted in the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada in 1967.
“She had a talk show every morning, and she started having all these discussions about women, and women’s rights and what we should know,” said Hogg. “Boy, did my attitude change.
“I just started speaking up for myself. I said, ‘I’m not being a doormat anymore,'” said the self-described free spirit, who has often taken off on adventures around the world.
One of Hogg’s three daughters, Amy, said, “I grew up knowing I didn’t have a ‘conventional’ mother. As a result, I had many adventures that none of my friends were lucky enough to experience.
“She led by example, and inspired me to dream big and be independent.”
Diagnosis changes life
In her 70s, Hogg learned of a group for seniors with ADHD. From everything Hogg had heard about the disorder, the group seemed like a good fit.
“I went to the meeting and within 15 minutes I was with all these people that were totally like me,” said Hogg, who lives part of the year in a cabin without running water on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Goderich, Ont. “I had never experienced that.
“I was always the odd one. I couldn’t learn. I couldn’t memorize. I couldn’t do spelling. I can’t do math,” she said. “Can you imagine the excitement when I found [that group] at 78?
“I can sit down now and not feel guilty.”
London Morning7:14Reminiscing about the good old days