Chester Chatter: Don’t take voting for granted

By Ruthie Douglas
©2020 Telegraph Publishing

The year was 1957, and I was new bride of 16. One summer day came a knock at the farmhouse door from three gentlemen.

“Hello Mrs. Douglas,” they said. “We’re selectmen from the town of Chester and we are here to sign you up to vote.”

“Of course,” they said, “we’re also here to collect payment for the poll tax.”

“Well,” I said, “come back in five years,” when I would turn 21 and will be old enough to vote.  They laughed and didn’t believe me. But they soon came to know that I was indeed just 16.

In 1957, you had to be 21 to write a check, purchase liquor or vote.

I had become taken with Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy and couldn’t wait to vote for the very first time. But I had to wait for more than five years. Election Day was in early November but my birthday wasn’t until Dec. 31, so I would be unable to vote until the presidential election of 1964.

I could attend Town Meeting but I wasn’t allowed to vote or speak on any issue. From the time I finally could vote, I have never missed a chance to ever since.

Scene and heard

Margaret Nault died on Oct. 18. She was 104. She was at Springfield Health and Rehab when I was there and was a delightful person. She was an avid reader and a wily Bingo player. I was glad to know her. My thoughts are with her and her family.

According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the woolly bear caterpillar should be able to tell us what kind of winter we will have. The wide and rusty brown section of his body will indicate a milder winter. The more black on his body, the more severe winter. I know it is just folklore, but it seems to work!

A big happy birthday wish to Melvin Stowell, who celebrated his birthday on Halloween.

The trick or treaters at my door on Saturday wore such great costumes and had great manners to go along with them. I was so glad they were able to do it this year. Now, I can get ready for winter.

The Auxiliary of the American Legion in Chester held another Friday Night Food dinner. Meatballs were furnished by Garrison Smith of Smitty’s Chester Market and they were quite the hit!

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Filed Under: Chester ChatterCommunity and Arts Life

About the Author: Ruthie Douglas is originally from Springfield but has called Chester her home for 58 years, and has been writing the Chester Chatter column for more than 40 of those years. Ruthie is also a longtime volunteer throughout the community.

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