Did Grandmama Vote

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Did Grandmama Vote?

This 2016 Presidential Election will probably go down in history as the most controversial in a long time – or the most controversial!

Just recently, as the election comes down to the wire, I had thoughts of wanting to know if my grandmamma ever voted? My mother has talked about her father voting, but I had never heard anything about if grandmama voted.

It wasn’t until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed and became federal law on August 26, 1920, did woman have the right to vote; it was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. The women of Georgia finally received the right to vote later in 1921 after Governor Thomas Hardwick signed the act, making it finally official on August 13, 1921; it wasn’t until 1922 when the women actually voted.

But I still don’t know…. did Grandmama vote?

So what do I do when I want to know something…. I call mama… “I don’t ever remember my mother voting.” Well that left me disappointed… as I’d hoped to hear that at least she voted in one election, but naught!

On the other hand, Granddaddy was very political and Saturday afternoons at the “filling” station in Siloam was where the men voiced their political views. Mama said that often many of their political views ended in strong arguments, which led to actual fist fights. I’m sure there was much cursing in between voicing those views and granddaddy was no stranger to those words; he often cursed every breath he took, especially when out in the field behind the plow; in the field it was gee-haw you son-of-a b……, every step he took.

Again I asked mama, “but why didn’t grandmama vote?” Mama said….. “Daddy did the voting in our family. Mama only did what daddy told her, that’s just how she was. If I came in the house and asked can I pull my shoes off, she would say, “go ask daddy.” Mama made no decisions at home, it was always “ask daddy”…. no matter what I asked. I learned from early on, just go ask daddy directly whenever I wanted something. I guess if daddy had taken her to town and told her to vote, she would have, but she just didn’t have ideas of her own of what she wanted to do unless it was making a quilt or crocheting a bedspread – those were the things she wanted to do.”

“In those early years, the men didn’t talk politics at home. I never remember hearing daddy say anything political at home. Politics was only talked amongst the men, the women weren’t included in political views. I knew daddy was a Democrat during those years as most farmers around here were – the Democrats were for the people and the farmers. I don’t think Daddy would have remained a Democrat today, as times have changed so much. I’ve often wondered what he would think of the election today and all the mudslinging that goes on.”

“I never voted until I married and lived in Perry, and I’ve only voted in one Presidential election; it was probably when John F. Kennedy was running. That was another election that was well talked up, and as I worked in a beauty salon, I’m sure my customers encouraged me to voice my opinion with a vote. I don’t remember where I registered or even voted, but it was the first election I ever voted in and my last.

Many years ago I found a piece of campaign memorabilia that had come from my grandparents home; it was a button/ribbon from the election of William McKinley. This was way before I began family research, and I ended up trading it for a pocket watch featuring the RCA Nipper dog. Now I wish I had kept that and I’m wondering why and how did he come to have it as President McKinley took office back in 1897. Granddaddy would have only been a toddler…. so how did that pin come to be in his possessions? Was it his father’s? Maybe he just acquired it from someone and kept it because it shared his last name.? Another question that will have no answer!

The next law to change voting was the 26th Amendment of which the rally was… “old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” It was during WWII when the rallies first began to use that slogan. Georgia actually became the first state to lower the original age of 21 to the new lower age of 18. The 26th Amendment of the United States Constitution finally gave most of the men and women in the military the right they wanted. It prohibited the states from now using age to deny them the right to vote; if they were a citizen of the United States, and at least 18, they could now vote.

That 26th Amendment grew out of the revolt in the 1960’s, and mostly driven by the students protesting the Vietnam War. It wasn’t until  July 1, 1971, that the amendment actually became part of the United States Constitution. I had just graduated from high school that May of 1971, but I didn’t register to vote. Most likely they came to school to try and register the graduating class, but voting and elections had not interested me as of yet. I’m sure I had other things on my mind, and at that time…. it wasn’t politics!

I do remember my father voting through the years, but politics weren’t talked in our house. Whenever I’d ask who he voted for, it was always, “you’re not suppose to tell who you vote for, it’s a private vote.” I also remember my father-in-law telling me the same thing…. it saves arguments.

In looking back at earlier presidents, if granddaddy voted, then probably the first election that he would have been old enough to vote in, was when Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) won in 1916; granddaddy was just turning 21… but was he as political in his early years as much as in his later years?

Granddaddy voted in every election, and I bet he really looked forward to them… probably looked more forward to the strong conversation and arguments at the filling station. He loved to talk, curse and voice his opinion on everything. I remember him going to that filling station in Siloam, as I’d see all the men sitting around over there. It always looked like the place to be, and I was always told that it wasn’t a place for little girls. But whenever I had a shot to wander over to find granddaddy…. I did.

So my story ends with…. Grandmama never voted!

Vote on November 8, 2016

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© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved
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2 Responses to Did Grandmama Vote

  1. pen4hire says:

    What a difference from my family! My great-grandmother who lived in small town Ohio, avidly read her Godey’s Lady’s Book, which encouraged women to think about national affairs. She also read the New York Times, sent to her by her son, a New York lawyer. She told my mother that she wanted to live long enough to have the vote, and she did! http://ancestorsinaprons.com/2015/08/hattie-finally-gets-to-vote/
    I have written several stories about members of my family deeply involved in politics, including my mother and ME. My grandmother was always quite opinionated on the subject. We would sit on her front porch and she would identify the townspeople who came by as Democrats (bad) or Republicans (good.) When she learned who I was marrying, she said, “His family is Democrats, but they are good people.”

    Like

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