EVANSTON — Forty-five people attended the Easter Bonnet Tea Party at the Uinta Senior Citizens Center, sponsored by the 19th Amendment Anniversary Committee and Uinta Senior Citizens Inc. on Saturday, April 20.
Festivities at the Evanston senior center began with singing Irving Berlin’s song “The Easter Parade,” while 19th Amendment Committee members served refreshments and drinks provided by the committee and the senior center, which had been decorated for the event.
Wyoming Sen. Wendy Schuler was the guest speaker. She engaged with the audience by asking questions and providing answers regarding historical facts of the U.S. women’s suffrage movement and Wyoming’s history of women’s suffrage.
Schuler gave a brief speech about the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement, founded in 1848 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and continued by Alice Paul and others in the 1900s. Schuler told of the trials and sacrifices these women endured for many long years in order to gain suffrage for all women.
Women were given the right to vote in Wyoming on Dec. 10, 1869, and in 1890, when Wyoming sought statehood, those in state government refused to join the Union unless the women’s suffrage was upheld, Schuler said. In 1890, Wyoming officially entered the union as the 44th state and as the first state to allow women their voting rights. It was 30 years later that the United States passed the 19th Amendment.
“When we go into the voting booth, do we think about these strong and passionate women who paved the way for us? I’ve become more aware as I’ve gotten older. Do we have power as a voting bloc?” asked Schuler. “Yes! There are 162 million women in the U.S. and in the 2016 election 55 percent of the voters were women. The largest voting bloc was men and women 55 to 65 years of age. Our one vote does count.”
Schuler said the 65th Wyoming Legislature passed a bill designating Dec. 10, 2019, as Wyoming Suffrage Day. She also said that a 19-mile segment of Highway 28 near South Pass City has been designated as the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Highway.
She said the State has budgeted $60,000 to produce a women’s suffrage coin coming out soon and said women in the legislature fought hard to get it approved when the majority of men wanted to vote against it.
“We asked the men who were against it how their mothers, daughters or wives might feel if they voted no. We (women legislators) made them feel guilty so they changed their votes and the coin will be produced soon,” Schuler said with a laugh.
Schuler added, “The coin will be revenue-neutral and all monies for the sale of the coin will be added back into the budget so it will not affect the budget.”
Volunteer judges Schuler, Alesia Allen, Winter Jones and Kyla Wiley walked among the tables checking out all of the Easter bonnets for the best in five categories for both men and women, including best of show, most colorful, silliest, most creative, and saddest.
Women winners were Joyce M. Pittman as best in show, Diane Groneman and Loretta Oliver as most colorful, Peggy Amsler Christensen as silliest and Janis Smith as saddest. Men who won were the entire Richins family of men who won best in show, Ed Oliver as saddest and Dyllon Boyer as silliest.
Judges Jones and Wiley presented each winner a prize of a lovely china tea cup donated by committee member Teresa Odell.
Nineteenth Amendment committee chair Kayne Pyatt asked for a show of hands on who believed they were the oldest voter present. Lots of hands went up but Ed Oliver, in his late 80s, was the winner. Pyatt also asked for a show of hands for anyone who had voted in every election since turning 18, with the majority raising their hands. Jess Richins was the youngest voter to have voted in the last national election, while his brother Sam voted for the first time in the 2016 national election.
According to the 19th Amendment Committee and senior center staff, the party was a success with good food, fun socializing and a sharing of voting experiences.