Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Women of Wednesday--Long Live(d) New Hampshire Women

Last week Barbara wrote a tribute to Granny D who passed away at 100 years of age. On March 7, New Hampshire also lost Mary Josephine Ray. At the time of her death, Mrs. Ray was 114 years old! Actually she was closer to 115 since her birthday was coming up in two months. Mary Josephine Ray was born May 17, 1895 on Prince Edward Island in Canada and later moved in New Hampshire.

A brief news report states that Ray "was born before Henry Ford built his first car or Marconi patented the radio." To be specific, Mrs. Ray was born one year before Marconi patented his radio and Henry Ford built his "Quadricycle" in 1896. It would be another 12 years before Ford produced the Model T and revolutionized the automobile industry.

On the day of her birth, The New York Times had on its front page this headline: "FATE OF THE INCOME TAX; Believed in Washington that It Will Be Killed Monday." Income tax is one of those things that people propose eliminating. It ain't happened yet! But, think about this--how much would a person have contributed in taxes over 114 years?

In 1895 there were 44 states in the U.S. The 45th, Utah, was admitted when Mrs. Ray was not quite 8 months old. At the time of her birth, Hawaii was in the midst of political upheaval, and its citizenry opposed its annexation to the U.S. When Ray was 64, Hawaii became our 50th state and the birthplace of a future president--our first black president!

I wonder if anyone in 1895, or even 1959, thought that a black man would ever be president. Certainly in 1895 areas of the U.S. was vehemently against that coming to pass. The New York Times reported in May 1895 of a proclamation issued by the governor of South Carolina. In it Gov. Evans called for a state Constitutional convention in which "a Constitution is to be made guaranteeing white supremacy once and forever." I'm sure Evans thought white supremacy should have been guaranteed everywhere in the U.S., not just S.C. This way of thinking still exists today in the minds of some people. We've come a long way in 114 years, but we need to keep moving toward equality for all.

It was fun to read that Mary Josephine Ray was a Boston Red Sox fan, and it's amazing to think that from the time she was 17 to the time she was 23, the Sox won the World Series 4 times. Ray had to go 86 years before the Sox won again. She was 99!

The 1912 World Series winning Red Sox

In 1890, the life expectancy for a white woman was 44.46 years. By 1900 it had increased to 51.08. In 2000 it was 80.0 years. Against all odds, Mary Josephine Ray lived for 114 years. Was it something in the New Hampshire air? I don't know, but I do know that I'm breathing deeply and looking forward to what happens if I live another 54 years!



Barbara said...

Interesting, Diane. We seldom think of all that happens in the course of our lifetimes, except as to how it relates to ourselves. And then, you never know what's going to turn out to be important 50-100 years later.

Wouldn't it have been fun to sit down and chat with Mary Josephine Ray!

I'm Jet . . . said...

Great job on the research, D. A very thoughtful piece . . .


Mur said...

Love it! Catching up with my reading. Two great posts this week, Diane.