The Unrepealable Amendment? Women's Suffrage vs. Repeal of Prohibition: the vote, the auto, and the return of alcohol
How the Framers, the Fathers, Mothers, and Auto Barons, Moved Down the Road
Copyright 2013 Franklyn E. Dailey Jr.(Some of this moves the action into the 21st Century)
The 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919. Its enabling law, the Volstead Act made our nation "dry" in 1920. The 19th Amendment, the Women's Suffrage Amendment, gave women the right to vote in 1920. This is a story with roots in 1920.
The 21st Amendment, ratified in December 1933, repealed the 18th and brought back alcohol. It was unique in being the sole Amendment to repeal an Amendment. That aspect was not its primary appeal for my father. Dad could now become a consumer of "authorized" spirits.
In 1932, along with my 8th Grade schoolmates at the School of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a small village in western New York State, I was studying Civics with Sister Florentia. She had just reached the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Women' Suffrage amendment. I mentioned this at home to Dad. In a rare comment to me about studies, he ventured, "Letting them have a driver's license has had more impact than letting them vote!" Soon after, I discovered that along with their 19th Amendment voting rights, many States also allowed women to obtain driver's licenses. And only much later did it dawn on me that Dad's real interest at the time had been repeal of the 18th Amendment.
Events seemed to confirm my father's opinion that the importance of women driving a car took precedence over the voting rights given by 19th Amendment. By the middle of the 20th century, automakers, having saturated the fathers with cars, went after the mothers. The photos show one lady of Dad's generation at the wheel of a 'touring' car, and then ladies from three following generations who helped expand the automobile population.
Here are four ladies, three from succeeding generations. All helped expand the automobile population.
This first photo shows my wife's mother, at the wheel of a 'touring' car. Peggy tells me her mother got her driver's license right away, and never drove again! (If you can ID the car, let me know and I will fill it in here.)
Here is my wife Peggy on the left, and daughter-in-law Maureen Dailey on the right, alongside the latter's Avalon..
The lady below is daughter-in-law, Sally Dailey. 'Elementary, my dear Watson."
I need to finish this story with my 'punch' line!.
After Dad passed, I discovered a 1953 newsletter he edited for his Alcoholics Anonymous group in Rochester, New York. The discovery reminded me of his delivery from alcohol, and his comment on Women's Suffrage, and driver's licenses. I have had 78 years to ponder his statement, which was based on his then twelve-year experience with women at the wheel of a car, and with their right to vote. Let me ignore the grave and respond belatedly:
"Dad, the ladies, with their new voting rights, helped you repeal Prohibition. Whenever the relative importance of Women's Suffrage and driver's licenses is discussed, forget it. You gave them the right to vote. Just try repealing that!"