Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Women's suffrage

Thursday, August 25, was the 91st anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote. Here is the story of my meager brush with that moment in history.

It was election day in Chicago, 1995, and I was living in Lincoln Park. Daley's opponent was a clown. Literally That was actually his profession. Anyway, I hadn't voted that day. My choice was between Daley and a clown, so I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the polls that day (and I always vote, so that would have been a pretty big deal).

On my way home from work that day, shuffling down the street toward me was this woman, old enough to be the  little sister of Methusaleh. I had never seen her before, but she stopped me, a perfect stranger, and asked, "Have you voted yet?" I hemmed and hawed but basically said no.
Then she told me, "The first time I voted was the first election in which women had the right to vote." That would have been the presidential election in 1920 that put Warren Harding in the White House. She said she'd voted for Calvin Coolidge, even though he was only the VP candidate. Who knows? Maybe she voted for Harding because she liked Coolidge. Back then you had to be 21 to vote, right? So she had to have been born in at least 1899, and it was 1995. That meant she was at least 96.

In parting, she told me, "You make sure you vote," and I did.

Anyway, it was an amazing moment that, to have met someone who was amongst the first American women to vote and certainly one of the last alive. I was very lucky, and that night, I couldn't get it out of my mind what an incredible moment that had been.

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