Three years before my Granny was born, women did not have the right to vote. Granny came into this world in 1923, nearly 93 years ago. 4 months before she was born, President Warren Harding died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage, shocking the nation. Granny was born into the Presidency of former Vice President Calvin Coolidge who took over for Harding. Lots of crazy stuff happened during Harding's presidency ("History's most scandal plagued president"), perhaps even rivaling the crazy stuff going on during today's campaigns.
I asked Granny if she knew if her mother ever voted. Considering my great grandmother bore 10 children, Granny coming in at #6, between 1912 and 1934, I'd be surprised if the poll booth was on her things to do list. The only time I didn't vote was when my kids were young. I remember driving to what I thought was my polling place in the rain, at night in the dark, on the last night of voting only to find out I was in the wrong place. After standing in line. I remember crying in my car. In all honesty it was more about being a young parent than losing the chance to vote. I can't even remember who I wanted to vote for. Children are a blessing and a curse.
Granny prefers to believe that her mother did vote but she can't remember for sure. My Dad, her son, says probably not. It's sad to ponder that kind of past but today we celebrate because Granny has just voted in the 2016 election. Ushering in the 16th President in Granny's lifetime in January 2017 will be a huge milestone, but I wanted her to be able to actually vote. Especially since she is a life-long Democrat and willing and able to vote for the first female President in our 227 year country's history. She's only lived in Texas for a few years and registering to vote has not been high up on her to-do list. So many doctor appointments! But I managed to get her registered and apply for a mail in ballot over the past month or so, and my mom mailed the ballot yesterday.
I asked Granny if she remembered the first election she voted in and from what I can tell it would had to have been during World War II. If her memory is accurate* it was probably in 1944 when FDR ran against Dewey. The only thing I remember about Dewey is that he did not beat Truman 4 years later despite one of the biggest journalistic snafus in history. Granny does not remember this.
What she does does remember is her father being instrumental in her decision to vote, which I think is pretty neat. She described herself sitting at the dining room table talking to him about going to vote a few years after she graduated from high school. Clearly it was a big deal. A few years later she was married and having children: my dad and my uncle. She doesn't remember much in particular about voting after that until she and my grandpa were "older" and used to "walk to the voting booth down the street" in Orange Park, Florida.
Granny was my only role model Democrat in the family growing up. All the other adults I remember were declared Republicans or apolitical. There was a good deal of good-natured ribbing of Granny for her beliefs, but she stuck to her guns. I have a dim memory of wondering why she would want to be different than everyone else. Now I understand.
I asked her what President she remembers the most over her lifetime and she immediately responded with "Nixon." It's not hard to fathom. We think some of the things Trump has done in this election are shocking but I can only imagine how truly horrified people were in 1974. Some of my first childhood memories are of Watergate and I was only 6 years old in 1974. It was absolutely all anyone could talk about.**
Granny was born in Lawrence County, Ohio. Her dad worked at the first power company in Chesapeake, Ohio, as I described in a post I wrote about Granny's life a few years ago. Ohio was the 6th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, paving the way for it to become national law in August 1920. And here we are today. My research says that 53% of voters in the 2012 election were women, which means that women determined the outcome of that election. Recently I saw that if only women voted in 2016, Hillary would beat Trump in a landslide vote. #girlpower #IJS
Granny will be 93 in less than 2 months. In her lifetime there have been 15 presidents, including FDR who served for 12 years, and now she has voted for the 16th President, who will be our 45th commander in chief. Even if she didn't end up voting for the first female President, it's still a historic moment and I'm happy to have been a part of it.
Rock that vote, Ladies.
*She's pretty sharp.
**Mostly I remember the complaining about nothing being on TV but "Watergate" and what a "damn liar" Nixon was. He was a Republican, which must have caused some cognitive dissonance in my family. Children are always watching.