At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, Ruth Bronson, 97, was getting ready to go for a swim.
By that time on Tuesday, Nov. 8, she hopes America will be in the process of electing its first woman president.
The Lakewood resident already cast her own vote for Hillary Clinton — an act remarkable for the fact that a woman voting for another woman for president was impossible when she was born in August of 1919.
And she’s not alone. Bronson is featured on I Waited 96 Years!, a website that shares the stories of women who were born before the 19th Amendment was ratified. She is one of 93 women who submitted their stories or who had their stories shared by loved ones. Of those, one other woman lives in Colorado: Jeanne A. Manzi, 97, of Loveland.
Bronson was born in Independence, Missouri, and from talking to her, it sounds like she took the name of her birthplace to heart. She taught elementary school students until she was 75, and has three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She lives with her daughter, Brenda Bronson, who was kind enough to put her mother’s swimming plans on hold for a moment and put her on the phone with me.
The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity (and one time when the phone cut out).
Denverite: Did you ever think you would be able to vote for a woman for president?
Ruth Bronson: I don’t know that I thought it, but I hoped it would be true. I always hoped I would see a woman president. I know that Hillary started out early, early, and she has the same kind of agenda as I do, which is welcoming people and then aiding people that are handicapped and having troubles and also giving them dignity so they can be helped.
So I want to give all my support — it would be for a man or a woman, but especially a woman — because I think that we can negotiate better. We’ve done it for years and years, and we get things done that men cannot do.
Do you remember the first time you voted?
No. (Brenda says she remembers the first time her mother voted Democrat. “She didn’t like Nixon.”)
How does it feel to see how much opportunities have changed for women in your lifetime?
There’s that glass boundary and it’s somewhat still there. It really is. There have been a few breakthroughs. People are extremely talented, but the glass ceiling is still there.
Is there anything in particular you hope Hillary could accomplish as president?
Somehow heal our country. I think she has a better chance of it but not much of a chance. That is part of her agenda. She is able to negotiate. And yes, I want a better feeling. Somehow we have to integrate with our black people and our Asian people, and we ought to appreciate all the great gifts that our immigrants have given us and continue to give us … Immigration has been a blessing to us and even the news broadcasts, some of them — I listen to PBS, of course — they say how much immigration has helped us. But not everybody hears that.
If you could give her any advice, what would it be?
Follow your heart and watch out. And that’s advice for any woman. Watch out and watch your back.