Only occasionally did I challenge my mother's viewpoint on important matters, but I well remember that one of those opportunities came around at least every four years. After every major election I would hound Catherine LeDuke in an attempt to get her to tell me who she had just voted for. And always she would insist that it was none of my business.
"That's why the voting booth has a curtain around it," she would say. "To keep nosy people like you in the dark." I got to hear on a regular basis about the importance of the secret ballot; a "more-than-I-really-wanted" history lesson about the need for people to feel secure and confident that when they pulled the election lever their vote was known only to them.
Now I never really fought against the concept of the secret ballot. But what I tried to explain to her was that in my opinion her one vote, known only to her, was not as meaningful to the election as that vote cast by someone else who made his choice known to all around him; mainly, of course, before he entered the voting booth.
When I asked mother who she was going to vote for, and then got the usual lecture, I would start my spiel. If you really care about that candidate (whomever it "secretly" is), you should let everyone know that he is going to get your vote. If you can influence just 5 people, and get them to agree with your choice, then you have just made your vote 5 times greater.
I never really understood why she wouldn't accept my argument. I do know that my daddy never had any hesitation about expressing his opinion, but I must admit that he had figured out early on in their relationship that when it came to politics Catherine LeDuke would make up her own mind; and keep it secret from everyone.
The following is a short letter written on October 26, 1944 by James Neville to Catherine while he was in X-Ray Tech training in Springfield, Mo. It is not a particularly important letter; but a typical one of several hundred written by him during this WWII time period.
Dearest One, I love you.
As some of the old folks on the mail route used to sing as I brought the mail "The mail man comes, but he don't bring me no mail!" That's my story. No letters today. Your letters (for no fault of yours) arrive none one day, two the next, none the next, etc.
I mailed a pkge to Miss Cathie LeDuke and Master James Neville LeDuke Jr (together) today. Some chocolate bars and couple of pkges of gum. I was tempted last nite to eat a piece (PX was closed yesterday for inventory) but I managed to put down the temptation.
I am at the Service Club now starting to study for tomorrow's exam, but I had to write you a note first.
|This letter was written just days after|
FDR's famous "Fala Speech"
I love you, sweetheart, with all my heart. Wish we could be together.
You can send me the $20.00 sometime. I can make no comment - I'm too surprised and pleased. But don't send it if you need it on the note or something. If you do need it, use it. If you don't I'll buy a cap with 2.00 of it. I'm surprised that you collected so soon. It's a nice surprise.
I love you, sweetheart.
I doubt that 'Duke influenced Catherine as she entered the voting booth on the following Tuesday; but we'll never know. It's a secret.
Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)