Once the tree house, long a dream of the neighborhood boys, became a reality, Patricia Theresa Carbine was flagged.
"Why?" she asked, tearfully.
"Because you're a girl, that's why," one of the boys replied.
Thus, Pat Carbine, the youngest of six (three boys, three girls) kids of the general manager of the old Pennsylvania Railroad, became aware of what some consider one of the new cardinal sins - sexism.
But Pat Carbine fought back.
She had this nifty three-speed bicycle, a fabulous old Raleigh, the only three-speeder in the neighborhood, and, naturally, the boys in the tree house begged to ride it - even if it was a girl's model.
So Pat Carbine struck a deal: You want to ride my bike, I get to play in your tree house.
"Done," said one of the budding chauvinists.
"The fine art of compromise has settled many a thorny problem," Pat
Carbine said the other day at the Rotary Club meeting at the Union League where she addressed a packed house on the life and times of Patricia T.
Carbine, Rosemont College alum, libber, editor of Look and McCall's, vice president of McCall's Publishing Co., and along with Gloria Steinem, co- founder of Ms. magazine, the widely respected mouthpiece of the Women's Liberation cause.
The first thing that struck me about Pat Carbine was her beauty. She is very good looking, as good looking as her cohort, Gloria Steinem, "the media lightning rod" of the lib movement, according to Pat Carbine.
I know that columnists should not offer observations about the corporeal substance of libber activists. I have done this before and the letters were scathing. But I have First Amendment rights, too.
If the libbers can spout all those theories and statistics about the plight of les girls, then I ought to be able to say that Pat Carbine, once a Villanova tomboy, is a real sexy piece of work, which she is.
She has a tiny waist, an ample bosom, bright blue eyes and a quick and disarming smile. Style-wise she comes on like a librarian, but not the sort who sneaks around shushing and telling you to act like you're in church.
She comes on like a librarian who has read every book on the shelf, especially the books about authority and power and how, over the long centuries, the ladies have been shut out in both departments.
"Authority and power have been a near male preserve through all of history and in all the cultures," Pat Carbine told her audience at the Union League the other afternoon. "And when I say this I am talking about 4,000 years and that's a long, long time.
"Of course, women have made some advances in the last 15 years. Back then only 5 percent of law school students were women. Today 40 percent of law school students are women. Yet, today only about 5 percent of the partners in major law firms are women.
"So we have advanced, but the advancements have been slow. So we wait, but, please, don't think that the patience of women is infinite.
"We'll wait, but not for another 4,000 years."
When Pat Carbine completed her talk, she was rushed by a score or two of Philadelphia women who have realized success in the business and professional world as women.
One was Mrs. Lynn Claytor, who operates a consulting firm at 35th and Market - Contract Compliance, Inc. "We make sure that minorities and women are properly represented on the jobs," she explained.
I wondered what might have motivated her into the Movement, so I asked if she had ever had trouble getting into tree houses as a girl.
"Oh, heavens no," Lynn Claytor said. "My son just built a marvelous tree house 40 feet in the air. I sleep in it all the time."
"How old is your son?" I asked.
"He's 22 and a bush pilot in Africa," Lynn Claytor said.
Weep not of les fems. They've come a long, long way, baby.