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Elderly Activists March On, Speak Out Ahead Of Election

Women march down the halls at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas, in solidarity with the national women's marches, January 21, 2017.
Connie Kelley
Women march down the halls at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas, in solidarity with the national women's marches, January 21, 2017.

They marched as young activists many decades ago. Now, most in their 80s and 90s, these San Diego County women aren’t letting their canes or walkers slow them down. They continue to march on and speak out.

“We better get started,” Dee Rudolph, 87, recently announced into a microphone at Seacrest Village Retirement Community in Encinitas.

Rudolph organized a meeting among her fellow residents to hold a voter registration drive, and to plan for new activism opportunities ahead of the upcoming elections.

“The thing that everybody is so unhappy with is the demeanor of the president,” Rudolph shared with the group.

“We care about women’s rights," chimed in Gloria Katwe. "We care about gun control."

“We need to take care of our homeless people,” said Susan Sobel.

“I think the (Trump) Administration has not made human rights one of their priorities,” said Francis Caminer.

Some residents at Seacrest Village Retirement Community in Encinitas gather to discuss the upcoming election, May 2, 2018.
Susan Murphy
Some residents at Seacrest Village Retirement Community in Encinitas gather to discuss the upcoming election, May 2, 2018.

Activism runs deep among the strong-willed women, some with soft and shaky voices. They’ve marched with signs through their retirement halls in solidarity with national marches. The first was the Women’s March in January 2017.

“There’s a whole feeling of camaraderie that we didn’t have before, and I love it,” Rudolph said.

Most recently their group of 75 laced up their tennis shoes for the youth gun control march. Their signs read “Arm teachers with pencils not guns” and “This grandma has had enough!”

Barbara Applebee, 87, holds up her sign during a march for gun control at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas in solidarity with the national youth march, March 24, 2018.
Barbara Applebee
Barbara Applebee, 87, holds up her sign during a march for gun control at Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas in solidarity with the national youth march, March 24, 2018.

Rudolph suggested a letter-writing campaign to lawmakers.

“You know, when you have old ladies who write postcards, it’s amazing how they sit up and take notice,” she said.

Their focus is on the upcoming primary election, and carefully choosing candidates who will stand up to President Trump and protect the rights and values they feel are threatened.

Their rallying spirit comes from a lifetime of experiencing historic events and tough times, including the Holocaust, the civil rights movement and times of war.

RELATED: 'We've Come Too Far To Go Back' Say Elderly Activists Protesting Trump Administration

Age and experience develop wisdom, said Bernice Rotondi.

“We’re a hopeful group,” Rotondi explained. “We’ve lived a long time and we’ve seen a lot of times when you feel things are gonna be terrible, they’re never gonna get better. And they got better. But it’s not going to change unless people participate and work toward that end."

Barbara Applebee marched in Washington for union rights in the 60s and Roe V. Wade in the 70s. She spent 30 years in New York teaching English to immigrants.

“We were children. We were young adults and parents and have all this lifetime of experience,” Applebee said. “It keeps us alive to be interested in what’s going on outside of Seacrest.”

Many of the women envisioned their golden years to be consumed by relaxing in rocking chairs. But they say now is not the time for knitting.

“Just because we’re here, and we should be just relaxing, there’s still so much life in us,” Sobel said. “We don’t want to just sit back. We want to help.”

Not everyone at the retirement home shares their political views, but Rotondi said they all share one hope.

“We all want peace,” she said. “We may come from different directions, but we want peace. And we want our children to be educated.”

They offer this advice for younger generations:

“Be involved. Make sure you vote. Make sure you follow what’s going on,” said Rudolph. “Don’t make an island of yourself.”

“Be kind,” added Rotondi. “And if you follow that philosophy, no matter what direction you’re going in ... the world has to be a better place.”

In the interest of being kind to their conservative friends, the women say they continue to follow a simple rule: no politics at the dinner table.

Elderly Activists March On, Speak Out Ahead Of Election
Elderly Activists March On, Speak Out Ahead Of Election
They marched as young activists many decades ago. Now, most in their 80s and 90s, these San Diego County women aren’t letting their canes or walkers slow them down. They continue to march on and speak out.

>>> They marched as young activists many decades ago. Now in their 80s and 90s, San some say Diego County women are not letting AGE slow them down. We recently revisited their retirement home where they are continuing to march on and speak out. >> Reporter: For dozens of women living at the Seacrest Village retirement community in Encinitas, activism runs deep. >> When you have old ladies that write postcards, it is amazing how they sit up and take notice. >> Reporter: Like your letter writing campaigns that target lawmakers with pins and postcards they regularly express their concerns about the County and the nation. They have a lot on their minds. Here is the Rudolph, Gloria Katz, Susan Sir now, Bernie's photon be. >> Everybody is so unhappy with the demeanor of the president. >> We care about women and women's rights. We care about gun control. >> We need to take care of our homeless people. >> This is a nation of immigrants. We are not treating immigrants very well. >> Reporter: Don't let their canes and walkers for you. The strong-willed women have marched with signs through their retirement halls in solidarity with national marches the first was the women's March. >> There is a whole feeling of camaraderie that we did not have before. I love that. >> Reporter: Most recently the group is 75 laced up the 10 issues for the youth gun control March. Their signs read aren't teachers with rentals not guns. Here has no place in our schools. Barbara Appleby was proud of her sign . >> in this grandma has had enough. And their focus is on the upcoming election. >> What we are concerned about is who is going to be elected. >> Reporter: Carefully choosing candidates who will stand up to president donald trump and protect the values they feel are important. Here's Francisca Manar and Gloria Katz. >> I think the administration has not made human rights one of their priorities. >> I would like to elect more women because I am a woman, and I think they are more sensitive to women's rights. >>> On this day the women are holding a voter registration drive and called for a meeting to call for new ways to let their voices be heard. >> We are all chomping at the bit to do something. >> Reporter: Their spirit comes from a lifetime of witnessing historic events and tough times including the Holocaust, civil rights movement, antiwar protests. >> We learned a lot in a lifetime they have yet to learn. >> Reporter: When he says with age and experience comes wisdom . >> we are hopeful group. We have lived a long time. We have seen a lot of time for you feel things will be paired -- terrible and they never will get better but they got better. >> Reporter: Barbara Appleby marched in Washington in the 60s in Roe versus Wade for the 70s. She spent time in New York teaching English to immigrants. >> We were children, young adults, parents, we have a lifetime of experience. >> Reporter: While most envisioned these years will be filled with rocking chairs, they say now is not the time for knitting. Maybe a little knitting. >> Just because we are here and we should be relaxing, there is still so much life in us. We do not want to sit back. We want to help >> It keeps us alive to be interested in what is going on outside of Seacrest. >> Reporter: Not everyone at the retirement home chairs their political reviews. But Bernie says they all share one hope. >> We all want peace. We may come from different directions but that is the focus. We want peace and we want our children to be educated. >> Reporter: They offer this advice for young generations. >> Be involved. Be sure you vote, follow what is going on, be kind, if you follow that philosophy, no matter what direction you're going in, if you follow with the idea of kindness, the world has to be a better place. >> Reporter: In the interest of being kind to their conservative friends, they continue to follow a simple rule, no politics at the dinner table.