“Where have you been hiding?” I asked myself as I discovered a tiny, green volume under three other, larger diaries.

Over three years ago, my sisters and I cleared out our Aunt Ruthie’s house. They agreed to my placing her diaries and journals in my suitcase, flying ancient history from Pennsylvania to my home in Florida. These included diaries from 1943, 1944, and 1945, which I’ve written about in other posts.

And now I discovered a diary from 1934, when our aunt was a teenager!

 

As I paged through the penciled entries for that year, I searched in November for a possible reference to something political.

And sure enough I found it!

On November 7, election day in 1934, Aunt Ruthie records simple facts, no embellishment as far as I can tell. At age sixteen, she was too young to vote, yet she noted national (actually, state) news along with details of her home life.

 

Pictured below is her quick entry, for November 7, 1934, written in her left-handed, right-slanted cursive, except for the printed words expressing her joy in finding two lost textbooks.

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It looks as though Pennsylvania has gone Democratic. I suppose Earle is our next governor. The Groffs [neighbors] and we were at Yountz for supper. Mother, Anna and Lydia were down all day. [Then in print, not cursive] – I found my lost Geometry and German books!

 

Aunt Ruthie skipped two grades, so she was probably a high school  senior in 1934 when she wrote this entry. Below is a photo of her high school graduation in 1935.

 

Church rules in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference of that era discouraged members from voting or holding political office (exhorting members to pray for their rulers according to I Timothy 2:1-4), but she quietly defied them, voting in elections until she was into her late eighties. *

With a presidential election behind us (well, mostly), we pause to thank God for our freedom to choose our leaders, however wobbly, contentious, and fraught with problems the process often is.

 

* Article IV – Nonresistance, Section 6, Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, July 1968.

 


  • What is your attitude about voting?
  • Do you come from a family that has valued voting and/or other political action?
  • Do you have written records similar to this from your own family?

 

 

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