Monday night as various news organizations called Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee, I thought of my Nana born in 1890.
Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.
Nana, my mother’s mother was a suffragette. When I was maybe 10 or 12, I remember finding a newspaper article with Nana and a group of women marching down the streets of Mankato, MN. It was a black and white photo of women in white dresses all holding a banner that said, “Let Women Vote.” The sashes they all wore I learned were purple. They all had on hats and what I presume were white gloves.
I listened with full attention as Nana told her story of being an activist. They had teas, they talked to church groups and they were community organizers. She gave me a living history lesson on what it took for her generation of women to help pass the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It finally had the votes and became official on August 26, 1920.
Her husband owned the Buick garage. Cars were a new fangled thing then and he had taken a risk selling cars. Nana was telling the story of how he was fine with her getting the right to vote but didn’t want to lose customers because his wife was an agitator. She pointed out two things to him. One, she was already locally famous for driving a car so fast (15 mph) that the boys jumped out because ‘everyone knew’ that you’d die at a certain speed. She had a lead foot. And two, if women had equal rights maybe they’d buy their own cars from him.
My grandfather was sitting in a chair listening to our conversation. I asked him if her agitaing hurt his business. He said, “Well it hurt my pride a bit when other men asked why I couldn’t control my wife but I told them I didn’t marry her because I wanted to control her. And, at least before the depression hit, she was right and women came in to buy cars because she told them they could. She even gave driving lessons for a while.”
So here we are almost 96 years from women’s suffrage and we have the very real possibility of President Hillary Clinton. In small towns and big cities our foremothers laid the groundwork for our votes and for Hillary’s presidency. I’m sure that my Nana is beaming down at our progress. I am equally sure that every little girl, including my granddaughters, will now grow up knowing that she too could be president.
Credit: Adobe Stock Images. Standard License.