Tuesday, August 26, 2008
During Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, she mentioned that this is the anniversary of the Suffragette movement. ( I looked it up and noticed that the sign in this photo is spelled sufferagette, while online it is spelled suffragette. I went with the way the sign in my picture has it spelled. After all, the photo shows women who were involved and, if that's the way they spelled it then, that's fine with me.)
I thought it would be appropriate to remember the women (and men) who were involved in obtaining voting rights for women. Many of them went through a great deal.
Do you know who these women are?
Flossie gave me this wonderful old photo and asked if I know who the ladies are. I don't have any idea. But it's a great historical photograph of a time that we don't often hear about.
We assume that they are Calvert ladies.
The fire escape steps behind them sort of remind me of the fire escape that is on the back of Calvert High School, leading from the auditorium down past the cafeteria. However, depending on when this picture was taken, the school may not have even been there, yet. I don't really know where the picture was taken.
While women couldn't vote, in times past, they still could persuade their husbands, in a lot of cases.
By the time I was old enough to vote, Texas had a poll tax. Most husbands would pay the money for their wives, if they were supportive of their wives. However some still had the idea that wives were something like property, or were to be kept dependent, or "barefoot and pregnant", as the saying went. Stay in the kitchen and out of anything that was deemed really important. The fee was a whopping $2.50, but you would have thought it was a small fortune. And, in most households, the men controlled the pursestrings. Women had to beg for everything they got, trick their husbands, or they had to save back something from anything that they were able to get their hands on.
I had been sick and had to go back home to live at the time that I was old enough to vote. My notice, and my mother's, came in the mail. I wondered how you knew about how to vote, since we didn't have a lot of communication back in the 1950s. Not much in the way of tv, but there were newspapers, radio, newsreels, magazines, and, sometimes, a candidate might come through town to make a speech or shake hands along Main Street. The main thing was to listen to the elders and see who they were endorsing, it seemed. People would visit all along Main Street in small groups, seeing who the elders or their bosses were endorsing. I tried to listen and watch as much as possible.
But, when it came time to pay that poll tax, all I heard was "Women are too stupid to know how to vote right." And there went our opportunity to vote.
Later, when I was working, I was able to pay the tax and vote. And, I've tried not to miss voting since. And I encourage others to participate as well. It hasn't been that long ago when a lot of men probably thought that their horses had more sense than their wives or daughters.
"We've come a long way, baby," from having to fight to get to vote, having to beg for $2.50 to pay the poll tax, to having a woman, "a traveling pantsuit sister", run for our highest office and make a speech before thousands while her husband, a former president, looks on.
Wouldn't the ladies in the photo be thrilled !
Hope that you enjoy seeing this photo as much as I have. There are some wonderful old pictures of Calvert. We really should try to get as many as possible together and do something with them. We talked about that in 1986 for the Sesquicentennial.
This is also a good reminder to label your pictures while you remember who is in them and where they were taken!
If you can identify these ladies, let me know.