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.
”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