By Angie Georgeff
Last week we received a package in a padded envelope. It was the size and weight of a hefty tome. After working at the library for nearly 11 years, I immediately guessed it was the Tennessee Blue Book, which arrives regularly every two years. When the book slipped out of the envelope, I saw that it was bound in a bright yellow.
So it wasn’t the Blue Book. Then I turned it over and saw the title Tennessee Blue Book 2019-2020 and the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee. Okay, it actually was the Blue Book but why was it yellow when it has always been blue?
A letter from Senator Rusty Crowe accompanied the book, so I broke the seal and learned the answer. This edition is yellow in honor of the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The sunny color memorializes the yellow roses that were worn by those who supported woman suffrage.
On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, which granted the vote to women across the entire United States. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you may recall the episode when Lord Grantham, who was reading his morning paper, announced that Tennessee had finally put the pro-suffrage forces over the top. British women would have to wait for another eight years before they could vote.
Tennessee earned the distinction of being “The Perfect 36” by a whisker. The pivotal vote was cast by freshman legislator Harry T. Burn of McMinn County. He sported a red rose on his lapel when he entered the House chamber that morning, signaling his opposition to the amendment.
It was the letter from his mother that he carried in his pocket, however, that carried the day. When the twenty-four-year-old voted “aye,” he earned his place in history.
My maternal grandmother had just turned 18 earlier that month, so she was too young to vote in the November election that was won by Warren G. Harding. My father’s mother was 17 years older, so she could have voted that year. Since she died before I was born, I never had an opportunity to ask. I can only wonder whether my ancestors wore red or yellow roses in 1920. However, I’m glad Harry T. Burn voted yellow even though the rose he wore was red.
Have you ever gone on a blind date? How about a blind date with a book?
We are looking to set up some of our favorite $1 friends from our basement book sale with people brave enough to take a chance on finding an unexpected new “love.”
These books are wrapped in order to preserve an aura of mystery, but we’re providing clues so you can guess at whether they might be right for you. You never know: You just might meet your Book Charming.