decision 2010

Ninety years ago women finally got the right to vote due to the enactment of the 19th Amendment, and due to many, many women who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Ever memorialized in “Sufferin’ until Suffrage” by Schoolhouse Rocks, women such as Susan B. Anthony, Lecretia Mott and Julia Howe amongst many others made sacrifices and stood up to the establishment so that women today  can “pull down on the lever, cast our ballots and endeavor to improve our country, state, county, town, and school.” Interesting, isn’t it, that we haven’t really had any public celebrations of this 90th anniversary?

Ninety years ago in 1920 my maternal grandmother was 21 years old, she quite possibly was amongst the first wave of women to legally cast their vote for president. The 1920 election pitted Warren G. Harding against James B. Cox, both of whom were from the great state of Ohio, one of the lands of my upbringing. It was the last campaign to be accessible to the public by phonograph…in November of 1920 the first commercial broadcast of election returns was sent out over radio waves (and now we have to suffer through endless attack ads on television).

My mom used to take us with her to vote. I loved the lever-operated voting machines and the small cubicles with curtains. There was an awe about the process, you really felt that the act of voting was an important and sober event. I’m not sure the collapsable cardboard voting “booths” have quite the same import. And the bubble ballots are far too similar to standardized school tests for my own comfort, bringing with them flashbacks of ACTs, SATs and GREs (what happened to connecting the broken arrows with a line? I loved those).

I stand in a short line of women in my family who knew the power of the vote, and who passed their ideals and expectations down to their children. Thank you Ms. Anthony, et. al., for fighting for our rights as citizens. Thank you, too, Gammy and Mom for everything, including teaching me that I must carry on the responsibility that began in 1920 lest we slip backwards to a time when women had no rights to vote, nor to have a say in their own reproductive systems, nor rights to pursue an education or to freely follow their dreams.

We are here because we stand on some mighty tall shoulders. Don’t let this opportunity to better your country, state, county, town and school slip by without voting. You have some time yet before the polls close. Go vote. Go save the world.


3 Responses to “decision 2010”

  1. November 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    My Mom (yea Mom!) posted this comment on Face Book in response to my blog post. Reposting here with her permission.

    “Thank you for the compliment on the example Gammy and I gave you. There were so many other women, mostly less known, who worked hard in the suffrage movement. We owe them our thanks.

    Gammy, born in 1898, December 15, saw the automobile, airplane, women’s vote, two world wars, the start of the computer, phone that were single party rather than 6-7 peoplesharing the phone line, refrigerators rather than iceboxes, and, of course, ice cream makers which were electric rather than hand cranked. Her father insisted that all his daughters were college educated [Gammy at Vassar] in a time when it was not the norm.

    So much heritage for which we offer our thanks.

    PS: I was # two this morning to vote.”

    Now I’m even MORE amazed!

    • November 3, 2010 at 7:13 am

      And another addition from Mom:

      “Add to Gammy’s life, living through the Depression, there is a family story about the beginning of that, the atomic bomb, space travel to the moon, airplanes going from propellers to jet engines. Interesting times.”

      Now I’ll need to find out the family story.

  2. November 7, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Finally catching up on blogs after a busy week–what a great post, Beth! I love the story about your grandmother. This is a cheerful spot in the midst of what was otherwise a very gloomy election day.

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