Alice Curtice Moyer Wing wanted equal voting rights for women. She traveled the Missouri Ozarks with her horse La Belle in the 1910s, talking to people about voting rights. Her experiences were chronicled in a series of articles published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1916-1919. Missouriwomen.org is featuring Moyer Wing’s articles as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights.
The following was Moyer Wing’s nineteenth article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on December 30, 1917:
“Women,” he said, “ortn’t to have the vote on account of their vain, bad habits” – But she reminded him that he was sending her to town for “terbacker,” without which he had been cross as a bear for three days, and when she suggested taking the vote away from him he smiled “like he always does when he’s plumb beat”
By Alice Curtice Moyer-Wing
“I’d most give my head to git to ride La Belle a piece of the way, shore’s my name’s Lareda Texas.”
This was the first hint of her name I had had, though we had ridden several miles together.
“Lareda Texas what?” I asked.
“Lareda Texas Hubbard Delaney,” she replied. “High soundin’ name, ain’t it? My pa’s folks is plumb highfalutin’ down where he come frum, but pa, he never could stand it to stay in one place long at a time. I reckon he’s stayed right here in Mizzoura longer than anywheres else. I was six when we moved here. I am sixteen now. But he likes Texas, pa does. That’s why I’m named what I am.
“The fust thing I thought of when I seen I was goin’ to ketch up with you,” she continued, “was to git to ride La Belle a piece. I want to brag to the other kids about it. I’d most give my head to git to.”
“I really wouldn’t exact any such price as that, Lareda Texas,” I assured her. “The only difficulty is your steed is not saddled.”
“And maybe you’re too stuck up to ride a mule. That’s jist the way with people frum the city, I reckon. Stuck up things. Of course, if you’re above ridin’ old Kate, that’s all right.”
I looked at woolly little Kate in her shaggy winter coat and at the flushed face of Lareda Texas. There was no mistaking the situation. I should have to exchange mounts, saddle or no saddle.
“I should be delighted to ride Kate, Lareda Texas.” I said. “Shall we exchange now”
“Shore. Jist grab hold of her ye’rs if you go to fall off. They’re long jist a-purpose. And don’t be skeered. She’s plumb gentle, Kate is; won’t do a thing but buck a little if she gits tard or contrary. And she only just takes it by spells.”
“Will she – is this one of her ‘spell’ days?” I stammered.
“Let’s see. Yisterday was Monday; today is Chewsday. Well, she might accidently go over till Wednesday. They ain’t no tellin’. But you ain’t got no call to git skeered yet. If she goes to actin’ bucky, jist grab her by the ye’ers and hold her head up. She’ll know what you mean. I always stop her that a-way if I git hold of ’em in time.”
“But – but how am I to recognize her ‘bucky’ moods, looking at Kate’s long, useful ears – ears that I was to hold onto if I was about to fall; ears that I was to hold her head up with if she was going to buck. I repeated my question.
“Huh? O! I’ll tell you if I notice in time. Don’t be skeery. If they’s anything in the world that I hate, its skeeriness. If I was a man, I wouldn’t ever let a skeery woman vote. No I wouldn’t. She’d have to git over her skeeriness fust.”
I was properly silenced.
“How am I goin’ to prove to the kids that I rid La Belle and you rid Kate?” asked Lareda Texas.
I said I didn’t know. I said It humbly. I was completely dominated by this imperious Lareda Texas.
“I know,” she said. “I’ve got it all studied out. We’ll git our pitchers tuck together, that’s what I’m well acquainted with the folks at the farm we’re goin’ to come to after while, and Zeke, that’s the old man’s boy, he’ll do anything I ax him.”
“I don’t wonder at it,” I replied, meekly.
“Oh, they ain’t nothin’ atween us, if that’s what you mean,” she retorted, with precocious misinterpretation. “But he’ll do what I tell him; heap of people does. And I hope you grin when the pitcher is tuck, that is, enough so as to look like you was enjoyin’ yourself. And I want about a dozen entry to give around to the neighbors and to send down to Texas.”
I promised all she asked.
“I’m gittin’ kinder hongry, ain’t you? Must be about ‘leven o’clock. We’ll eat with Zeke’s Pa and Ma. I had breakfast at five this mornin’ and started at six. It was still kinder dark, but it’s a right smart trip to town and I had to start early to make it in a day. Pa, he’s in a awful hurry fer me to git back with his terbacker. I shore got a joke on Pa yisterday. He says to me: ‘Lareda Texas, if you happen to meet up with that womern what talks about sufferage, you jist tell her, fer me, that you don’t believe in it.’
“‘But how do you know I don’t, Pa,’ I says. ‘What if you was to be in the cause of me a-tellin’ a lie. A plumb big lie,’ I says.
“‘Lareda Texas,’ he says, sort of pitiful, ‘have I raised you up to be sixteen without knowin’ your place?’
“‘Pappy,’ I says, ain’t I jist a heap like you, and ain’t I got a mind of my own?’
“‘I’m afeerd you have,’ he says, ‘But see here, Lareda Texas,’ he says, ‘I’ve shore got good reasons fer my standpoint. Remember how you made me buy you some powder last time I went to town, fer to spile your face with? Remember how you chaw gum ever time you git a chance? Remember all the little gimcracks, like beads and combs and hairpins that I have to git fer you to wear? Well, it’s jist these vain, bad habits that a woman has got that makes me agin it. They ortn’t to have the vote on account of ’em.’
“‘All right, Pappy,’ I says. ‘I’ll shore tell her all about it,’
“‘And you jist think it over, yourself, Lareda Texas,’ he says. ‘You’ll shore see where I’m right, if you do.’
“‘I’ll think it over, Pappy,’ I tells him.
“And so, this mornin’ as I was a-leavin’, I says, ‘Pappy, I shore thought it all over last night.’
“‘I knowed you would, little gal,’ he says ‘It’s a awful thing to have a habit, ain’t it, honey?’ he says.
“‘It shore is, Pappy,’ I says, ‘and I’m awful sorry fer you.’
“‘You don’t need to feel sorry fer me, honey,’ he says, ‘You’re little habits ain’t so bad that I cain’t put up with ’em. But I’m shore glad you got to seein’ things right, honey. You cain’t help seein’ that women ain’t fitten to have the vote, after thinkin’ it all over.’
“‘Now, Pappy,’ I says, ‘you quit sich foolin’. If I was you I’d do a little thinkin’ on my own account.’ I says, a-laughin’ at him. ‘Why, Pappy Delaney,’ I says. ‘you’ve been as cross as a bear with a sore head fer the last three days,’ I says, ‘and all because you’re out of chawin’ terbacker. You need old Kate fer haulin’ in fodder today that you ort to be gittin’ in afore the weather turns bad. I heerd you say so yerself. But here you send me clean to town fer nothin’ in the world but to git you some terbacker. And it strikes me, Pappy,’ I says, ‘that with sich a awful habit as that, you ortn’t to have the vote. You shore ain’t fitten fer it,’ I says, ‘and while I’m in town today,’ I says, ‘I reckon I better see about havin’ it tuck away frum you.’
“‘Women uses terbacker, too,’ he says.
“‘Yes,’ I says, ‘sometimes they do.’
”And jist look at the powder and paint and gimcracks that women uses.’
“‘Shore,’ I says, ‘but men uses paint and powder, too,’ I says, ‘jist as many as they is women that uses terbacker, I reckon. And as fer gimcracks – well, if I was you, Pappy, I jist wouldn’t plumb cattypillar about the gimcracks. It sorter seems to me that men buys a few fixin’s fer theirselves, if you jist notice. And Pappy, I ain’t never seen no woman git shaky and lose her temper, her git so she cain’t live, hardly, fer the want of a little paint and powder. No, Pappy, it shore pains me, but I’ll have to see about havin’ the vote tuke away frum you today.’
“Didn’t I git him, though? I left him a-scratchin’ his head and a-grinnin’ like he always does when he’s plumb beat.
“We had fried chicken fer breakfast,” she remarked presently, “and I liked to a-choked on the heart, aswallerin’ it whole. If you swaller a chicken heart whole, you know, you can, like as not, git the feller you want. I swaller it whole ever time we have chicken. Not but what I expect to git the feller I want, anyhow, but if they’s a help, you might as well git it. And I reckon, to swller jist one would be enough, but a person might as well swaller all of ’em and be shore about it.
“And did you ever put a wishbone up over the door?” she asked. “I don’t reckon they ever was a girl that didn’t, though.
“I’m mighty keerful to not put up a wishbone, ‘less I jist about know who is a-goin’ to walk under it fust. This gittin’ married is mighty resky business and I ain’t a-goin’ to take no chances.
“And did you ever look at the new moon over your left shoulder and make a wish. Huh?” as I hesitated “Did you?”
I had to say that I had.
“Did any of ’em ever come true?”
“I don’t think so,” I admitted.
“Ain’t that so? But a feller keeps on makin’ ’em jist the same. It don’t cost nothin’, and if they should happen to be somethin’ in it, you’d be jist that much ahead.
“I’ll tell you somethin’ about Zeke’s folks. We won’t have to be tied up in the creek after eatin’ with ’em.”
“To git cured of founderin’,” she explained. “Standin’ in water is a cure fer it. We won’t be foundered after eatin’ with ’em, but it’ll shore be better than nothin’. They’re jist natcherly plumb stingy, if anybody wants to know. Zeke’s father cain’t come noways nigh him.
“Funny you don’t know about it. That’s the way everbody finds out where to dig around here. They jist take a divinin’ rod and go around and around, awful careful. My pappy, he cuts his out of hickory. It is shaped somethin’ like a wishbone. They take hold of the two ends, and jist keep a-goin’ around, slow and careful, and if the meetin’ place – where the wishbone prongs jive, you know well, if it reaches down to the ground, that is the place to dig. Why I’ve saw ’em purty nigh crawl out of their hands, jist like it was alive. When they guess it right, they always git ten dollars for their trouble.”
“But suppose they don’t guess it?”
“Well I’ve knowed Pappy to have to go and fill up the holes they made a-diggin’, to keep frum havin’ to like the man he witched fer. Pappy always licks.”
“I’m sure of it,” I said, and added meekly; “I don’t suppose you will want to ride La Belle all the way to town?”
“Too proud to ride old Kate into town, air you?”
I hastened to assure her that I wasn’t; that I liked mules; and that I liked old Kate better than any I had ever seen. But that I merely felt more at home on La Belle.
“Shore. Jist as I do about Kate.”
“And besides, I hadn’t planned to go to town. My route was to take me in another direction this afternoon.” I told her.
“That’s so, I heerd over the phone that you was goin’ to Uncle ‘Biah Beck’s tonigh, but had plumb fergot it. Well, I’ll let you off after Zeke takes our pitchers. But ain’t we had a plumb good time together? The kids’ll never hear the last of me a-tellin’ about it.
“And now, jist let me give you a piece of advice. Don’t you never let a man size things up fer you, jist to suit hisself, and git the last word. They’ll shore carry their pint ever time if they can. They’ll bluster and skeer you to death, or they’ll act pitiful and heartbroke like Pappy does. But it’s jist all to carry their pint. I ain’t had my eyes open these sixteen year fer nothin’.”