Every so often, I’ll come across a little paragraph-long anecdote in “The Lives and Times of the Spencer Chambers Clan,” a 1986 spiral-bound family history my mother’s first cousin, Laverne Kilgore, put together.
I always chuckle, then shake my head a bit at the irony of the story.
My grandmother told the circa-1920 story about a telephone conversation she overheard between her father, W.H.G. Chambers and his brother, Sol. The brothers were both community leaders in Cross Cut, in Brown County, which was a much larger community then than the not-very-wide-spot in the road it is now. As a point of reference, Sol, was the pharmacist and probable owner of the local drug store. W.H.G served on the school board. The school building, of course, is no longer standing, but at the time it was a large two-story structure with state of the art features. Well, except there wasn’t indoor plumbing.
OK, enough with the rabbit trails. No. Wait. There’s one more bit of trivia that’s not going to fit in anywhere else in this story, but I think it’s too good not to share, and I’m the author here, so…
Sol Chambers’ great grandson is Brown County Court-of-Law Judge Sam Moss.
Anyway, we’re given to understand that in 1920 the ominous threat of women being given the right to vote loomed and the brothers did not deem that as a good thing. The brothers were discussing that pesky 19th amendment.
According to the story, W.H.G. said to Sol, “Ahhhhhh, maybe it won’t be so bad. At least it gives me seven more votes. (He was counting his wife and six daughters.)
But my grandmother, telling the story to Laverne, said, “He may have been surprised if balloting had not been secret.”
On the page opposite the anecdote is a copy of Nannie Chambers’ poll tax receipt for $1.75, paid Jan. 23, 1922. The 19th amendment passed in August of 1920, and women voted for the first time in 1921. The receipt, No. 90, is issued to Mrs. W.H.G. Chambers, a housewife, age 46, a 28-year Brown County and State-of-Texas resident. Laverne editorialized in the paragraph on the previous page, my great-grandmother had dutifully agreed with her husband and was against the progressive idea of women voting, but given the right and privilege to vote, she exercised it fully.
Fast-forward 96 years, and I embrace my obligation to vote and will probably do so on Monday. I have been outspoken elsewhere about who I will be voting for, and there’s no purpose in saying who or what I’ll be voting for here, now. I could not change your mind if I tried, and you could not change mine.
I fully expect it to seem like my votes will go for naught, and most of those I vote against will “win” the election.
And yes, technically, those opponents will win because in the ballot count, they will have gotten more votes. Some of those who win will have gotten there through dirty politics, by saying what is necessary against their opponent without ever mentioning their own qualifications and by campaigning by telling outright lies. In today’s politics, that’s how the game is played. Fair or not, they’ll win. Those who lose, I’m afraid, will be those who voted for them, when they discover their votes only hurt themselves.
But if we were looking at a pie chart, we, the red and the blue, should realize we have been beaten by the white – the gigantic proportion of non-voters, the cans who didn’t, the coulds who wouldn’t.
I said I wouldn’t say who or what I’m voting for, and my not doing so isn’t to protect my privacy of my ballot. But really just because I’m tired. You’re going to win. Stop with the name calling already. I get it. You’ve got the answers because you’re a “conservative Christian.” New flash. So am I.
Unfortunately, most of those who boast those credentials and are on the ballot are not. So, I will vote my conscience. Pre-election, I am that pesky gnat buzzing aggravation in the oppressors’ ears. Post-election, I’ll move on, doing the best I can as a mother, sister, friend, teacher and citizen.
It is in my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s spirit – and this excerpt of a meme to be taped to my bathroom mirror that I find my courage. I will “not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief… (I am) “not obligated to complete the work, but neither am (I) free to abandon it.”
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is an instructional assistant and freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly bi-weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.