Election Day Thoughts, 2016

This morning I was up early and set out to vote at 7 am. There was a small line already when we arrived prior to the 7 am opening and the usual early-morning rough start as poll workers get into their rhythm.

No surprise here – I am a woman, a registered Democrat – and I proudly cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.

I was thinking about other strong women in my own life who have shaped me. My great-grandmother, Minnie Palmer Flournoy, was a suffragette. I never met her, but studying our family’s story, I am not too surprised that she felt compelled to march for women’s voting rights. Minnie Palmer Flournoy became a widow after her husband Richard was killed tragically in a train accident. My grandfather, her youngest of two children, was 1 at the time. The railroad for which my great-grandfather Flournoy worked barely offered compensation or accepted responsibility for his death. Minnie fought that decision, but was turned down.

Returning to her family in Stanhope, MO, Minnie worked as a chamber maid, eventually moving to St. Joseph, MO where she ran a boarding house and worked as a seamstress.  She raised two smart and independently minded children who were devoted to her throughout her life.

My grandmother Edna Wyant, who married Minnie’s son, was another strong woman who was given the right to vote thanks to the 19th Amendment. I’m sure my own Mother can verify this – I believe Edna voted in every single election for which she was eligible.  She became a factory worker during World War II in order to do her part. As far as I know, she voted a straight Republican ticket every single time that I know of.  Even Nixon. As family stories go, my Grandfather would vote in opposition, so my grandparents cancelled each other out.  I wonder if she might have made an exception this time.

My aunt, Eleanor, my Father’s older sister, managed an insurance office full of men. She was opinionated and tough – characteristics that she no doubt cultivated because she was a woman working in a man’s world. Imagine how hard it must have been to be taken seriously back in the 1950s and 1960s.  I can’t help but think she’d be interested in the election today.

And I was thinking of my Mom, Sarah Flournoy Puglisi, as I cast my vote this morning. She was the first of her family to attend college. She raised 4 of us and still leads by example with generosity and service. I think she’s voted in every election (although unlike her Mother, not always Republican – right Mom?). At 93, she’ll be voting this morning in the swing state of New Hampshire.  So if you were entertaining the thought of not bothering, get off your duff and go vote. If Grandma Sarah can get herself to the polls at age 93, you can too.

This morning as I voted, I thought of all these wonderful strong women and how amazing it is to see the cracks in that glass ceiling.  As a woman working in business in the 1970s and 1980s, I feel the deep sense of privilege to be able to vote and witness this historic election. We’re not just fetching coffee or drycleaning for “the boss”, we may just end up being the boss. We’re knocking on the door of the White House. And hopefully putting a large hole in that ceiling’s cracked glass.

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