The Landlady

Ruby Relents… Sort Of.

Pic Removed by Request - All Apologies*
Ruby’s Mom & Dad – March 23, 1909

Meet Ruby’s Mom and Dad. This photo was taken on their wedding day. It took a lot of begging, but Ruby finally let me take the picture home, frame and all, to scan it.

It kind of looks as though Ruby’s Mom has her hands in her pockets but Ruby says, no, her mother always held her arms a certain way, in photos, or when talking to people, to make it less noticeable that she had



She would fold her hands at the knuckles, just behind her hips. Her grandchildren used to walk around doing that, pretending to be Gramma, Ruby said with a laugh, as I was packing up the picture to take home. I was trying to get the hell out of her house with it before she changed her mind, but then she started talking about her mother during the Great Depression, and I sat right back down again.

We used to call them the ”Dirty Thirties”, you know. All those people out of work – it was just awful.

We did alright – my Dad worked for the railroad, and we had a little farm, so we didn’t have to worry about starving to death, even with all us kids. I think my mother always felt a little guilty about all those people with next to nothing, because she was always giving food to perfect strangers, whenever they’d ask for it.

There were always hobos on the train in them days. There’d be men leaving their families behind to hop a train out West, hoping there’d be work out there. Us kids used to run down to the tracks whenever we heard a train coming, just so we could count the hobos and wave at them. We wasn’t making fun of them, mind you, but we used to wonder at the things those men saw. Some days there’d be up to a dozen hobos waving back at us. They always waved back.

Sometimes, when we’d get back home there’d be a hobo in our house! The odd one would get off the train, or maybe he’d get caught and thrown off, I’m not sure, and our house was right there, wasn’t it? So, sure enough, he’d be bound to knock on the door, and ask my mother if she’d give him something to eat.

One day, a hobo knocked, and my mother was alone in the house. She didn’t like the idea of letting a strange man in, but she didn’t have the heart to run him off, either, so she said, “You go round back and chop me some firewood, and I’ll make you a lunch.”

So, off this man went behind the house to the wood pile, and he chopped wood for an hour, while my mother cooked him up something to eat, and packed it all up for him to take away with him. He sure earned his lunch that day, I guess!

For some reason, my mother followed behind him when he left with his lunch – maybe she was going to haul water, I’m not sure, but she happened to see him meet up with four other hobos off the last train. She felt awful, too, when she saw he was splitting up that lunch between the bunch of them, after she’d made him chop all that wood… She wasn’t mean with a meal, but she’d only packed enough up for one man.

There were times, too, that a man would need a place to settle in for the night, and my mother never turned anybody away. She’d bed him down on the living room floor and give him supper. In the morning, he’d have a hot breakfast, and she’d send him off with a lunch for later, too.

Then she’d spend the whole day washing all those bedclothes twice over, just in case the fella was lousy, or had fleas.

One day, she got a great big box off the train, addressed to the “Section Foreman’s Mrs.” Inside that box was a whole set of “Knowledge Books” – encyclopedias, they were. And the note said “Thank you for taking me in, and for the nice meals on such-and-such-a-date….” It was from some hobo off a train, who’d maybe got himself a job selling Knowledge Books in Toronto or some such. Imagine that! My mother had those Knowledge Books ‘til she died. I wish I knew who had them now….

Before I left, Ruby showed me this little thing in her china cabinet. She’d bought it for her mother to hold her glasses on, and it sat on her mom’s night-stand, doing just, that for years.

And, yes, those are Ruby’s Mom’s specs still sitting on it.

A Ruby Memento
”Tell that Mushy-Fella
that this is me…”
(Laugh, laugh, laugh….)

So, there, Mushy-Fella… I think we might be wearing her down. Maybe. 😉

* * *

*After a back-and-forth email conversation with a relative who found my blog, and was concerned I might be “taking advantage” of an old woman, Ruby has requested that I remove her parents’ wedding photo, just in case it might bother her son (he’s NOT the relative) that it’s posted online. I still win, though – she says I can leave everything else up, and continue to blog her stories. “I may be old, but I’m hardly incompetent.” So sayeth Ruby.

Random Song for the Day: ”Scar Tissue” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

9 replies on “Ruby Relents… Sort Of.”

Les you READ my mind. I thought, damn check out Ruby’s mom all self-confident with her hands in her pockets on her wedding day. Wow, she wore a dark dress and she looks like a woman who is NOT going to take shit from anyone.

Somehow, the connection from Ruby to her mother via the lack of forearms slipped my mind. And then there you went and explained everything. Again.

That is one hell of a woman. I think I want to be like her when I grow up. Except *with* forearms, you know. What was her first name?

Les Says: Awww… CG… Don’t you DARE grow up!

As for Ruby’s Mom’s first name… I don’t know. I never thought to ask. But, I’d only have to change it, anyway, on account of, Ruby “don’t trust that Internet.” Sigh…* What shall we call her? I kind of like “Ivy”.

Oh, quite the looker!

I love that sense of humor…she and I would have got on well, in another time and place!

“Knowledge Books” – I remember them as The Book of Knowledge, that what we had instead of the more expensive Book of Britannica, something like that! I remember them as being red instead of the leather brown.

Ruby’s mom looks very attractive and her dad like Daniel Day Lewis! Therefore, she has to be a handsome woman…with forearms!

Les Says: I said myself to Ruby, that her dad was quite the looker – she agreed, of course. And yes, Ruby has forearms – 🙂 – and is still very beautiful… I still have hope that she will relinquish one of her “younger” photos for scanning… fingers crossed.

Les, I just loved that. I feel like I’ve been wrapped in a soft blanket and sipped some cocoa while being told a bedtime story. The one thing I think I’d have liked about living during Ruby’s mom’s time is the way that people would routinely knock at a stranger’s house and spend the night. Imagine the stories! Those people must have had fabulous blogs 😉

Les Says: Suzi, what I nice way to give a compliment! A bedtime time story – thank you SO much… Now I’m going to have to take Cardiogirl’s suggestion about a Ruby “blook” a little more seriously, I think…

I love the idea of Ruby’s Mom having a blog! Can you imagine some of the posts…? “23 eggs today… and tomorrow we’ll have to slaughter that pig – will post pics.” LOL!

Ruby’s parents are gorgeous! You are so lucky to have these stories at your fingertips and so gracious to share them with us.

Les Says: Well, thanks, Denise… I think I’m pretty lucky, too. I wish I could have met them.

I really like the look of this site. Its got a nice aged, weathered feel to it. The writing is friendly, without sounding pushy or conceited. Honestly, its one I will go back to again to read what’s new. Great work.
January 27, 2008 | David Thorne

Les Says: Wow! Nice review – thanks, David! I look forward to seeing you again.

What a handsome couple. Ruby’s mom just looks right through you! How the world has changed. There’s no way some hobo off the street would get my sofa. Kind of a shame, because I probably would have done just that back in those days.

Les Says: Well, considering there’s more to worry about than lice and fleas on the modern-day hobo, I’d have to say I can’t blame you..

All I can think about is that collar. I would choke if I had to wear something like that. It’s wierd looking at the old clothes…I think the styles over there must have been really different than here at that stage.

Les Says: Australia, right? I’ve no idea, but now I wanna know… guess what I’ll be googling for the rest of the day….? 😀

Nope, Ireland. My relatives were all probably wearing rags then though 🙂

Les Says: Ooops! Sorry, Claire – I knew that, too! Back to Google… Sigh…*

i love looking at old pics specially those in black and whites. there are some kind of endearing about them, maybe the eyes that tell some sort of mystery and i really admire how they “pose” for the photoshoot. Orchestrated, and there are some sort of hierarchy (is this the proper word?). And of course, the clothes. Even the old photographs here in the Philippines of my grand-grandparents, they wore the best of their clothes.

Les Says: Someone else mentioned to me about the old wedding photos… how the groom was always seated with his bride standing behind him. That’s what came to mind when I read “hierarchy”, so I think we’re thinking of the same thing.

Then, too, photographs were rare, few and far between, so yes, the best clothes must be worn. Your wedding photograph back in those old days might be the only photograph you have had taken of yourself. Imagine!

Welcome back, Maline – it’s nice to see you here again!

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