‘Of course’ she will vote
October 28, 2008
There have been 18 presidents since 103-year-old Gretchen Tally was born New Year’s Eve 1904.
The Silver Springs resident says she is closely watching the horserace between John McCain and Barack Obama and plans to vote Tuesday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church a few blocks from where she lives with her granddaughter in the Snyderville Basin.
"I try to be real careful about who I vote for I’m an independent," explained Tally. "Presidents are important because don’t they kind of run things? They should."
The most memorable U.S. president in the past century was Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose two terms in the White House spanned 1953 to 1961, she said.
Tally, who could also recall voting for John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, may be the oldest person who votes this year in Summit County.
"There is one person older than her and we don’t know if they’re going to vote or not," Tally’s granddaughter Leslie Harlow said about a 105-year-old who is registered to vote.
Tally, who registered to vote just shy of the October deadline, said she hasn’t always trusted politicians.
"I trust some of them, and I like to put my two cents’ worth in when I can," she said Monday in an interview at her Snyderville Basin home. "I don’t really look forward to it, but I am going to vote. Just to say I voted."
Harlow remembers her grandmother as a bit of a politics junkie who used to speak on air to Dixon Platt, a popular radio personality in Lubbock, Texas.
"I used to call in on the radio a lot," Tally said. "I didn’t know Dixon Platt personally but I knew him by talking on the telephone a lot and I had a good time visiting with him."
People in Lubbock listened as Tally predicted outcomes in local elections, Harlow said.
"She used to win car washes and dinners and all sorts of things," Harlow said.
This year McCain is not "a very good prospect," Tally said.
"I doubt that I would tell him that," she joked.
At 103 years old it’s now difficult for Tally to pay close attention to politics.
Tally’s oldest sister Agnes was 111 when she died, Harlow explained.
"She was one of the oldest women in the U.S.," Harlow said.
Tally’s secret to long life:
"I try to be ornery and make trouble for people."
"Some people just have longer genes, I don’t know," Tally said.
Meanwhile, she diverts back to politics to explain dramatic changes in the past 50 years when a black man or a woman could not win the White House, Tally said about Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
"I haven’t seen it before and I’m glad things have changed," Tally said.
Tally’s daughter was president of a Texas chapter of the National Organization for Women and race has never mattered to her, Tally said.
"I don’t think that color has anything to do with anything. It doesn’t change a person’s way of thinking or the way they do things," she stressed. "But I’m sure some people are bothered by that. Don’t you think so?"
A survivor of the Great Depression, Tally said whoever is elected president will have to stare down a bad economy.
"I know the economy isn’t great They need to decide what to do, I can’t do it for them," she said. "It’s easy to spend that money but it’s a little harder to make it."