Friday, August 27, 2010


On this 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote and also to hold office, I think back to a conversation between my mother and father. It occured when I was a child in the late 1940s, and the conversation was surprising to me, given the usual husband-wife balance of that old-fashioned time.

"Clarence, how are you going to vote?" my mother asked my father. Right in front of us kids, he firmly told her, "I'm not going to tell you."

"But why?" my mother wondered. "I don't want to take the chance that I might vote differently from you and cancel out your vote."

Apparently my father didn't appreciate Mom's show of support in this regard. "That's why I'm not telling you," he replied firmly. "Women worked hard for the right to vote. It's your personal right. If you think a different candidate would be a better choice, then you should be more than willing to cancel my vote."

I never did know who liked which candidate and who voted for whom, but I never forgot that conversation. My father, the traditional Quiet Man, was standing up for a woman's rights, and his message was a message for me as well.

Many years later, after my husband Bob and I had been married for decades, I looked out into the yard and noticed a political sign being installed for a candidate I wasn't supporting.

"What's that sign doing there?" I asked my husband. "I haven't been contacted about it and that's not my candidate."

"I ordered it," he casually replied. "You can get your own sign."

By the end of that day, there were two separate signs prominently displayed in our front yard, each for a different candidate. To make things clear, my husband had attached a HIS sign to his candidate's sign, and I had attached a HERS to mine.

The signs stayed for the duration of the campaign; no arguments, no hard feelings. They were simply expressions of our personal opinions on the matter.

I had married a man who, like my father, respected a woman's right to think and vote for herself. And I, my father's daughter, did just that.