Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I'm Taking Names .


I just came in from cutting down a tree.  Not just any tree mind you.  This one was huge, a foot and a half across.  I’m not sure how old it was but it was old enough that it had moss growing on it.  If this tree had been anywhere else poets might have chained themselves to it to save its life but in this case it was on my land and in my way and I have plenty more. It was in my way so I cut it down. 

I’m feeling pretty feisty nowadays.  We’re about to have a woman president and stuff like that always makes a girl feel powerful.  I used to say that there’s nothing like a chainsaw to make a woman feel powerful but now we’ll have a president to make us feel even better.

I’m tired of this election being about some buffoon with bad manners when it should be about an historic moment when we elect our first woman to be in charge of our country.  And one of the reasons it burns me up is that it takes the glory away from so many of my female predecessors who have waited for this moment --waited patiently, followed all the rules, found a woman who has put in her time, served two terms as a Senator, served as the Secretary of State and been found to be qualified by every endorsing entity out there. We have been patient.  We have followed the rules.  It’s our turn. 

I’ve been driving around with a Clinton bumper sticker on my car for two years, folks. I’ve been pulled over by the cops three times, rear-ended once and had someone dent the hood of my car with their fist in the Walmart parking lot. I have displayed the composure of a saint through it all—after all, Hillary’s reputation is being tied to my own good manners.  I represent the countless women who have been ignored and abused for no reason.  Like generations of women before us we have been conditioned to keep our cool.

But now it’s time to act.  It’s time to vote.  Early voting in Texas starts October 24th. Grab your bumper sticker and head on down to the county courthouse, fire station or school. Don’t forget your registration and your ID.
Here’s something else I’m taking:  I’m taking a list of women I want to remember when I cast my vote.

It’s nothing more than a gesture but it will be a way of having them there with me, allowing them to be part of this historic moment.  I feel like I somehow owe it to those women to take their names with me as I mark my ballot this year.  When I step up to vote this year they will go with me.

Let me tell you who I will be thinking of when I mark my ballot to elect a woman to lead our country for the first time in history:

I will be thinking of Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Eleanor Roosevelt,  Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Sacagaweja, Anita Hill, Coretta Scott King and Helen Kelsoe. 

You’ve probably heard of most of those women except for Helen Kelsoe.  She was our neighbor across the street who mentored me as a young girl.  She was a strong woman who worked as a legal secretary and hosted the neighborhood rug rats at her house when I was growing up. After my mother died when I was a teenager she was a good source of estrogen wafting over me when I needed it.  She showed me how a strong woman can take control of her life and not whine about things.  She taught me to think about the world and God and a lot of complicated things.  She also taught me to think twice before you try to fix your refrigerator door by taking it apart yourself because if there are tiny springs involved you will never get that sucker put back together.

As I cast my vote I will remember my grandmother Fannie Anderson Stuart, who always voted the way Tom told her and never learned how to drive a car but did have her own checking account, a radically progressive thing for women in 1940.

And my great grandmother, Jane Hash Stuart, who was informed at lunchtime by her husband to ready the family for a trip from Texas to California and was good to go by the next morning, earning her the nickname I have inherited with honor, “Janie Go.” 

I will remember my other grandmother Bertha Kolb Kuhn who supported herself and two children as a widow before social security was invented.

I’ll think of Beaven’s grandmothers, Hattie Eiseman Els and Oma Fox Foster whose major claims to his memory are the food they cooked.  Neither one could drive or owned property in their own name.

I’ll remember my mother, Mildred Kuhn Stuart who never owned a car in her name and got terribly excited the one time she bought a pair of slacks. A pair of slacks, folks. Not jeans.  Slacks.  One pair.

Beaven’s mother, Blanche Foster Els, often frustrated by the male hierarchy of the Els family, who briefly had a business of her own alongside the family business

I only get to vote for the first female president once. I don’t want this opportunity to slip through my fingers.  I want to do it right this time.  It’s the only chance I’ll get.


Send me your mother’s name – I’d like to take her name with me.  I will update this list here on my blog and on the list I take to the voting booth.


Here’s a few names I’ve already gathered:  I’ll update the list as you send me names.  Include maiden name, please. 

Mildred Kuhn Stuart
Bertha Kolb Kuhn
Fannie Anderson Stuart
Blanche Foster Els
Lois Wood Stuart Mehaffie
Helen Walley Kelsoe
Hattie Eiseman Els
Oma Fox Foster
Bette Owens Truly
Joy Fletcher Mullins
Edith Fletcher
Betty Hipkins Ulics
Priscilla Boston Swan
Margaret Brand Smith
Virginia Brown Granger
Helen Kerchival McCormick
Hulda Mathis Granger
Florence Waddell Brown
Jean Stewart Berg
Ellen Claire Siermann Putnam
Lydia Novak
Ann Haynes Tubbs
Althea Jean DeSart
Iva Louise Snook
Lois Ferguson
Itylene Moore Posey
Leta Posey Herring
Ardyce Faye Cornelison Schmidt
Freda Ione Combs
Bertha Allen Schmidt
Ann Heath Stites
LaVerna Jett Elliott
Evelyn Anderson
Katherine Benton Broadhurst
Elizabeth Holmes Benton
Magdelene Jeanette Johnson Blomberg
Paula Peschl Avila

PS:  If you have reached this far and have read my list and feel like making any negative political comments please don’t.  I will delete negative comments.  This is not the place for them.  Besides I have a chainsaw.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jane. My mother would have been very touched that you remembered her and that her "mentoring" had meaning in your life. A meaning that has lasted these many years. Helen Walley Kelsoe was a strong woman and one who made herself, her children, grandchildren, and even Oak Knoll strays better for having a life well lived. Garnett Kelsoe

Susan said...

I love love love this !

Gina Roberson said...

Jane, I am Gina Roberson, Traci Truly's former Legal Assistant and close friend (former and current). I love this! My mom would have loved this, too. She passed away in 2007, and was a proud Democat and Hillary supporter. In fact, she asked to be moved from the room she was in at the nursing home because her roommate was constantly hating on Hillary. She just couldn't and wouldn't put up with it. My daddy was a Southern Baptist preacher and also a staunch Democrat. Don't see a lot of those around these days, do we.? At any rate, her name is LaVerna Jett Elliott, and you and I will both carry her with us as we VOTE FOR HILLARY!