courtesy Travis Hardin Home : Essays : How Aunts Became Democrats

From the LocSec [December 08]
How My Aunts Became Democrats
By Travis Hardin

Originally published in the newsletter of North Alabama Mensa

Intellectual freedom for you and for me -- That’s the valuable benefit offered in national and local Mensa magazines, newsletters, and on-line forums. A month or so ago a member grew concerned that the LocSec column contained opinion instead of sleep-inducing official minutia every month. I assured the gentleman from Florence that he is as free as I am to write material for the newsletter. If my opinion is all you see, it’s because no other submissions are received. Columnists are needed. I assure members that I do not have any power over members who disagree with me, beyond the meager logic I can conjure. Surely readers can distinguish between my opinions and Mensa business. The two categories are always in separate paragraphs. Please contact me if there is doubt.

How Aunt Cat and Aunt Beacy Became Democrats

During the previous depression my grandfather Frank Hardin lost the farm. He moved about five miles away to Yances Bend on the Coosa River and rented a farm. One hot summer day during the Hoover administration (1929-1933), the young Cat and Beacy, about 11 and 6, were in the field with the family picking butterbeans. Rome Produce Company was paying only 50 cents a bushel for butterbeans. After the produce truck picked up the beans the work continued. After a while, Frank took off his hat, wiped his face, and looked up at the sky. "Kids, let me tell your something," he said. Don’t ever vote for a Republican. They’ll starve you to death."

The young girls were immediately impressed, and took him to mean they would literally starve. They became lifelong Democrats.

Now in their old age, Aunt Cat and Aunt Beacy are still Democrats. But they’re white and of an earlier time, and hesitated to vote for a black man for president, until at length they allowed their children to persuade them.

A week ago Aunt Cat told me that one of the most touching photos she saw during the campaign was of a white woman leaning her head on Barack Obama’s shoulder, smiling broadly. Her eyes sparkled at the thought of the good will and inclusiveness that photo represents to her.

I gave each of my aunts two large glossy prints of Huntsville Times front pages framed for hanging. The front pages show two views of the Obama family during the Chicago victory speech–memorials of a remarkable and historical event. Will they be hung prominently in the house? I wouldn’t be surprised. They want to defend against starvation.


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Last updated April 2016