Friday, June 29, 2007

To Hell With the Elephant

by Denver Barnett
as told to David Parmer


Preacher Keller is pictured at the right.

Denver told me that when the 20th Amendment was passed granting suffrage to women, not many women, or perhaps none, in Orlando exercised the right during the 1920 election. Apparently it seemed unlady-like to vote so women stayed away from the polls. By 1924, Preacher Keller had arrived in Orlando. In the 1924 election, again no women in Orlando was interested in voting. By the time of the 1928 election, women were becoming more assertive and it appeared that there would be ladies casting their ballots. Preacher Keller, to put it mildly, was opposed to women's suffrage, almost as much as he was opposed to the Roman Catholic faith. Sensing that even in his own household, with quite a few daughters, and a wife starting to talk politics, Preacher Keller, a diehard Democrat, thought he should "educate" the women of his household how to vote a straight Democrat ticket, even though Al Smith, a Roman Catholic, was the Democrat nominee.

Preacher Keller got a sample ballot and had his daughters old enough to vote and his wife to sit in a circle while he instructed them on how to vote. He pointed out to them that to vote a straight Democrat ticket, all they had to do was to put an "X" in the circle with the Democrat rooster1 over it. Preacher Keller was standing so that he was obscuring the other side of the ballot, which was the Republican side, the side he didn't want the distaff side of his household to see. Apparently, Preacher Keller's wife, Theodosia, whom he called "Doscha," happened to see the Republican elephant symbol on the other side of the ballot and said innocently, "Emery, what does the elephant stand for ?" Preacher Keller lost his temper with his
wife and in an exasperated voice proclaimed "Hellfire and damnation, Doscha, I told you all you had to do was to put an "X" in the circle with the rooster; to hell with the elephant."

Denver Barnett is Alva Barnett's son. Alva was Bill Barnett's brother. Denver is a retired school teacher who lives in Pennsylvania. He is married to the former Rose Amos of Burnsville. Alva lived on the hill near the U.B. Church. Denver Barnett and his dad Alva Barnett is on the left.

1. The Rooster was the symbol for the Democratic Party in a number of states in the early 1900s. In several states the Democrats use the rooster today.

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