What Glass Ceiling?
by Edwina Hoyle
T.R. Love, T.R. Media World
Women of a certain age may remember studying home economics in school. The Home Economics High School textbook promised to teach girls how to be an ideal housewife. “Have dinner ready, prepare yourself, prepare the children, minimize all noise, be happy to see him, listen to him, make the evening his.” Young women were taught the ideology of the housewife: Maintain the house, prepare meals, take care of the children, help them with homework, do the dishes and laundry—all while remaining elegant. This culture of promise was reinforced by television shows like Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
At only 10 years of age, Pattie Michie knew she wasn’t cut out of that particular cloth. Her mind was made up. She was going to be a successful woman in business. And boy, did she break the glass ceiling. Pattie is currently the Club Ambassador at the Country Club of Hilton Head and previously served as private events director. She has worked there for 22 years. “Everyone here is like my family. It’s wonderful,” she said.
Her first job was at a dress shop. “I was fortunate because I got addicted to selling, and I loved that,” said Pattie. The owner of Rossoff’s Ladies Apparel was a blonde who always wore black. She always looked professional and stunning, so Pattie adopted the same look. “Besides, black really makes my jewelry sparkle,” she added. Her signature look is a pin worn on her right shoulder, and she has an abundance of meaningful pins that have been given to her over the years.
Early in her career she took that love of sales and moved from apparel to Mustangs, advertising, lumber, college yearbooks…literally everything from A-Z. When she realized she needed a Z to complete her alphabetical list, she went to a car dealership and explained that she needed to sell a 240-Z sports car to complete her goal. She convinced the manager to let her work there until she sold one; it only took six weeks. Pattie also worked at Mississippi University, she managed the Ivy Guest House in Starkville, Mississippi, and the Shady Oaks Country Club in Jackson. She even started a soup kitchen to feed the poor.
When her boss at the lumber company bought a hotel that had seen better days (later called Shady Oaks Country Club), he wanted Pattie to manage it and turn it around. She lived in the hotel and was on call 24 hours a day. Tirelessly, she made the hotel a tremendous success. Four years later, the owner rewarded her work with a vacation to Hilton Head Island.
“The sweet people in Hilton Head got my attention, and it was love at first sight,” Pattie said. “I’d been ‘incarcerated’ for four years, so my goal was to get three job offers in that week.” Pattie never returned to the hotel. She got a job at the Westin in the general manager’s office, and for 10 years she was a force there in food & beverage, marketing and special events.
Pattie grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, and her demeanor is the epitome of Southern charm and grace. Her mentor, best friend and advisor on all matters in life was her father. Even today she quotes his kernels of wisdom which made all the difference in her life.
“He always said, ‘Conduct your life in such a way that earns respect, and everything else will fall into place,’” Pattie stated. “He would walk back and forth across the living room giving me advice, and one day I said, ‘Daddy, please, just stop.’ He said, ‘I will never stop sharing my wisdom with you because I’m so proud of you.’”
Pattie’s father was the county sheriff, well-respected and successful. He loved helping people, he raised Tennessee walking horses, and he was also a cattle buyer. “Daddy taught me to always look people in the eye. He said when you meet them, look them in the eye, and remember their name. Thankfully, I have a photographic memory that has been a talent and a blessing,” she said.
Working in the hospitality industry for many decades, Pattie has experienced her share of rude or insulting people. “Daddy taught me well. He’d say, ‘Don’t ever get brought down to their level. Don’t wrestle with a pig because the pig enjoys it, and you just get dirty. So it’s easy for me to just walk away, but he also told me if you ever have a job you don’t love, you’re in the wrong place. He said listen and note what is happening around me, and smile because everybody likes a happy face. Love people, and they will love you back. And, be fearless.”
Pattie was an excellent study who took her father’s lessons to heart because if she’s anything, she is fearless. In today’s world, that takes strength, courage and dignity, which is exactly what makes Pattie Michie a Lowcountry icon loved by all.
Musically Inclined: Pattie plays the piano and her two favorite singers are Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. She actually met Ray Charles on an airplane and was introduced to him by a 3-year old girl who told her, “This is Ray Charles. He is blind but he acts like he can see. He makes great music!”
House Rules: Pulitzer Prize winning author, Eudora Alice Welty, was Pattie’s housemother at Mississippi State College for Women in Columbia, Mississippi.
More Strong Women: Pattie met Madeleine Albright when she stayed at the Ivy Guest House. They hit it off and attended Easter sunrise service together. Mrs. Albright is also known for her jewelry pins but she wears hers on her left side.
Mississippi Connections: Another famous acquaintance Pattie met at the Ivy Guest House is author John Grisham, who is also a former Member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.
Gone Country: When fellow Mississippian Comedian Jerry Clower met Pattie, he told her she reminded him of Reba McIntyre.