|Lorena Grace Sanford - age 18|
As I prepared to enter high school here in Memphis back in the early 60s, I remember my Mother telling me one day that my Dad would be rolling in his grave if he knew that I was going to Central High School and not Tech High, his alma mater. I was horrified!
Not knowing much about my Dad or his family anyway, I will always remember that ‘visual’ scenario in my head, and I honestly felt as though I might be betraying him. It was, of course, the first time I had ever heard that particular phrase. Mother assured me that I was making the right choice, since the school I was attending had a college-focused curriculum, and that my Dad would have been proud of me. I gave a sigh of relief, but I've always remembered that vivid phrase and have used it a few times myself since then.
I think my Grandmother might be rolling in her grave today. In fact, I’m pretty sure she is!
Lorena Grace Sanford Wallace Werkhoven was born on 5 Aug 1896. So on 4 June 1919, when the Senate confirmed the amendment to the constitution that would give women the right to vote, she would soon be twenty-three years old and had just given birth to my Mother on January 10th of that same year. She would be twenty-four the following year when the amendment was fully ratified. 1
Naturally, she rushed right out to vote. Right?
Wrong! My Grandmother was a firm believer that a woman’s place was in the home and had no business whatsoever involving themselves in politics. It went completely against her personal faith. So did drinking, dancing and other “tools of the devil.”
Yep. She was a strict Southern Baptist, and so were all of her friends. But I loved her dearly and just learned to live with her distinct beliefs, even if I didn’t always agree with them.
Thankfully, my Mother did not follow her mother’s belief about voting and took the first opportunity to show her duty to her country by voting for the first time in the 1940 election. She turned twenty-one the previous January and always told me about her first time voting. She even took me with her a few times when I was a child.
Obviously, I did the same. The first election I was eligible to vote in was the exciting, but controversial 1968 election. I turned twenty-one the 5th of June that year - the same day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot. He died the next day. The times were so turbulent that I knew it was my obligation to vote to try to make a difference.
When I became a mother myself, I also took my children with me to vote and always preached the importance of voting to each of them.
My Mother tried so many times to get Grandmother to register to vote, but she could never persuade her to do so. Grandmother lived to the age of 89 without ever setting foot in a voting booth.
That old phrase came back to me like a flash last night when the first woman in history was placed into position by one of the major political parties to run for the office of President of the United States.
Wow, I thought as I watched the confirmation occur. I’ll bet Grandmother is rolling in her grave. Seriously, she may be tossing and turning.
I think I’d better go to her gravesite soon and check to see if the earth has been moved. If anyone could do that, it would be her!
1 National Archives: America’s Historical Documents. (http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/document.html?doc=13&title.raw=19th+Amendment+to+the+U.S.+Constitution%3A+Women's+Right+to+Vote; accessed 8 Jun 2016.)
@2016 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland