They were grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters with a common political goal that transcends the differences of generations. They wore casual shorts and shirts, tennis dresses of the suburban housewife, and the dresses and pantsuits becoming to the mature woman.

There was Lilian M. Grigg of Bethesda, an 83-year-old woman who marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1919 behind the suffragette Inez Mulholland. "She was the leader," Grigg recalled yesterday. "She was wearing white and rode on a white charger. White was always the color."

"White was for purity," explained Elizabeth Grace Keebler, a suffragette who marched yesterday. "We didn't wear it all at the time, of course. Just in parades. It shows up well. It's always clean. It's effective for a parade."

"I'm here today mainly because of my daughter and granddaughter," said Grigg. "They wanted me to come. I've always been interested in getting equal rights."

With Grigg yesterday was her daughter, Ida Jo McKenney, 52, of Cambridge, Ohio. She wore under here skirt the same ruffled petticoat her mother had worn in the 1919 march. She displayed it proudly.

"It was mostly women marching back then," said Grigg."Men already had the vote. I'm surprised to see as many men as there are here today."

Among the men was Rob Gruenler of Falls Church who accompanied his wife and 2-year-old twin daughters. Gruenler, a printer at the Organization of American States, said his family is "for the ERA. My wife is big in the movement. We thought we'd come down today and march." Resting by his daughters' stroller was Gruenler's homemade banner: "Give the next generating equality."

March participants and onlookers, such as Phyllis Trapp of Arlington, who was there with her daughters, Tiffany, 4, and her twin sister, Beryl Morgan, 38, of Oakton, repeatedly talked about their hope that this generation will bestow a more equal world on the next generation of women.

"I want this one to grow up in a more equal world than it's been for us," said Trapp, nodding toward her daughter. "In a married situation when we were growing up it was proper to not realy think of yourself, not to follow your own career, but to be more supportive of your husband. Those things are important but I think now women can think of their own careers without tremendous feelings of guilt. Things (responsibilites) are more divided now. I know they are in my household."

The women said they have never marched for any cause. "This is the first one I've felt strongly enough to come out for, " said Beryl Morgan. "We're watching and maybe we'll slip in. It's beautiful to see this. It's amazing the number of people that came from all parts of the country."

They came in large groups, such as the 700-member delegation from Detroit, and in small groups such as the group of seven people from Old Fort, a town in the mountains of North Carolina. "A lot more people showed up than we thought," said Kim Taylor, 25, a schoolteacher from Old Fort. "A lot of people came, therefore they must have thought it makes a difference."

Odessa Komer, 54, a vice president of the United Auto Workers Union and a grandmother, flew in with the Detroit delegation. She is a veteran of the Equal Rights Amendment struggle and, as she rested on the grass outside the National Gallery, she proclaimed that yesterday's march "bests it all."

ERA, she said, "is not just going to die and go away. I think today proves that it's not dead." She said she will remain in Washington today to lobby the Michigan delegation in congress to vote fo a seven-year extension of the ERA ratification deadline. "I think if it's not extended there's going to be a real problem in this country. A lot of these women rode for 20 hours on a bus to get here, like the group from Grand Rapids, Mich. They came here on a bus. It's 20 hours each way. They'll leave at 6 p.m. and go back. It's rough. These women have to feel very strongly to go through something like this."

"So many of our critics attack us on sexual and moral ground," said Anne Follis, head of Housewives for ERA, from Urbana, Ill., "when we're probably more for the family and American flag than they are.

"I mean, look at me," she said.

"I'm just a suburban housewife from Urbana, as middle class as you can get. I campaigned for Goldwater back in 1964."

Middle class and upper middle class is the way cab driver Bernard Quinton described the fares he was getting at the Capitol. "They're going to the Hyatt, the Shoreham, the Hilton. This is the upper middle class. Yesterday they went sightseeing all day. Last night they went to the Flagship, Hogate's, Blackies. You have a different type of person here for this demonstration."