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Not too long ago …

POSTED September 30, 2011 9:46 p.m.

One hundred years seems like a long time in most situations. When someone turns 100 years old, I can’t help but marvel at all the technological changes that one person has seen just in his or her lifetime.

In 1911, automobiles were a novelty and many people still traveled by horse and carriage. Radios were only in the homes of the rich, but entertainment was something that many families didn’t have much time for after doing all work and household chores by the sweat of their brow.

Furniture and jewelry from 1911 is so old that it is now considered antique and can be sold for 100 times the original purchase price.

Not too long ago Turlock turned 100 and it was interesting to see how this small, dry part of the Central Valley turned into the agricultural powerhouse it is today with the help of a few visionaries and the state’s first irrigation district.

Yes, 100 years is definitely a long time, except when you view it in terms of civil rights. 

One hundred years ago, on Oct. 11, 1911, after a long and sustained effort, women gained the right to vote in California state elections.  This fact seems a little unreal to me as I sit in my office as the editor of a California newspaper.

How can it be that the same women who were part of California’s Gold Rush — women who owned businesses, founded churches, cared for the sick, raised future generations of Californians and helped make the Golden State one of the largest economies in the world — couldn’t cast a vote until 1911?

While it’s hard to believe less than a century ago women were viewed as second-class citizens in the “land of the free,” I do have to admit times have changed. That change is evident even right here at the City of Turlock.

The city has quite a few women in leadership, including two city council members, the city attorney, the director of economic development and redevelopment, the parks, recreation and facilities manager, the housing manager, chief accountant and city clerk.

Not to mention the myriad of women leaders in business, education and healthcare in our fair city.

But while I acknowledge how far women have come in our society, it is best to remember where we started so as to never forget that freedom is rarely just given; it is usually won after a hard and painful fight for years and years.

The League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County will help us never forget with an event to mark the women’s right to vote in California at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Petersen Event Center of the Stanislaus County Office of Education at H and 12th streets in Modesto. Co-sponsors of the event are the Stanislaus County Office of Education, the American Association of University Women Turlock Branch and the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.  

Therese Lunt, who lectures at both CSU Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College, will tell about the development of the national women's suffrage movement and then focus on the California campaign, its leaders, and the reasons for its success. She will also trace events from 1911 until women achieved the national right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

This event is free and open to the public.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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