Born at home for the sake of a vote!
Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi
July 18, 2020
I was definitely a surprise to my folks when my mother became pregnant with me – she was 38 years old and daddy was 50. They lived in Old Kernville, long before the dam was built and Lake Isabella flooded the site where the town had been. My father's first wife had died in childbirth, as did their newborn son. Five years later, he married my mother and they also lost a son who was 17 days old, and my mother had a series of miscarriages, so they gave up and adopted my brother Henry.
Then 10 years later, out of the blue, my mother became pregnant with me. My dad was a nervous wreck, since he'd already lost one wife and several children. He made my mother promise to go to Bakersfield to have me, since Kernville was just a little pioneer town. This was in 1926 and all the streets in Kernville were only dirt with wooden sidewalks. It was in late October and dad wanted my mother to go to Bakersfield because she was getting close to her due date, but she wanted to stay home in Kernville to vote. There were no absentee ballots in those days – if you weren't at your polling place on Election Day, you didn't get to vote. And voting was very important to my mother, because she was born in 1889 and it was 1920 before the 19th Amendment passed, and she was able to vote for the first time in her life at age 31. She was also determined to vote for a Kernville resident who was running for a county office.
So she stayed in Kernville and voted on Election Day, Nov. 2, 1926, and that night at the dinner table she went into labor. Daddy walked down the street and got our neighbor Dr. Smith, who delivered me at home with no problems. And the person that mother stayed home to vote for got elected – it was Dr. Smith. And that was how I happened to be born at home in Old Kernville on Election Day.
– Wini Hand Hurst
Wini was the mother of The Loop writer Jon Hammond and was a registered nurse for 45 years – 25 of them at Tehachapi Hospital.