Tales of Little Ruthie: The Silverware Fights

Front Page, Personal History

            Summers were difficult in our house.  Mother and Daddy worked every day.  Ola and Jeanie were married with their own kids, so that left the three of us at home.

            By the three of us, I mean Junior my brother who I thought was an idiot but later figured out that this wasn’t always true.  Sometimes he was smarter than me, if anybody can believe that.  I know I found it hard to believe when he would put one over on me.  The second of the three was Margie, my big sister.  She hardly ever got involved in the battles that went on between Junior and me.  All she was interested in was clothes and shoes.  She loved ribbons and bows, too.  She was a real girly, girl, if you know what I mean.  I, on the other hand, was kind of a tomboy type of girl.  I liked the outdoors and the creek, and I liked adventure.  I wanted to try new things.  The problem with that was I usually always wound up in trouble.

            My brother, the idiot, was always in charge, of course.  He was sixteen that summer.  Margie was twelve, and I was ten.  I was beginning to think that I would never get to be in charge of anything. Being the youngest in the family is hard.  I had to literally fight for my life at times.  They were all older and bigger than me, so I always get picked on.

            Margie always sided with Junior because she was afraid he would beat her up or tell Mother if she did something she shouldn’t have done.  This didn’t happen too often because she actually tried to be good.  She and I had fights now and then.  I beat her up, and then she left me alone for a while.  Sometimes she got the better of me though if Junior helped her.

            In the summer months, Mother would call us on her lunch hour to see how we were doing.  Of course, we told her we were fine.  My sister Ola would come by occasionally to check on us.  Sometimes she would take Margie and me with her to her house.  Once we got there, we knew why.  She wanted us to help her clean her house.  She was a terrible housekeeper.  At least that’s what my mother said.

            “If you girls help me clean my house, I will pay you,” she said.

            “How much will you pay us?”  I asked.

            “Well, how about a quarter?”

            I asked, “How about fifty cents each?”

            “Yeah, you’re house is really dirty, Ola,” Margie said.

            “All right, then. Fifty cents each.”

            “But you have to pay us now, before we start,” I said.

            “Why is that?”  asked Ola.

            “’Cause every time we clean your house, you never pay us.”

            “That’s not true.”

            “Yes, it is, and you know it’s true.”

            “Okay, then I will pay you right now.  You don’t even trust your own sister.”

            She went into the kitchen and handed us each fifty cents, and we put it in our pockets.  We worked nearly all day on her house.  What a mess!  Of course, we watched her kids while we were there, too.  She had three kids by then:  Larry, Bobby, and Randy.  There was only one year’s difference in Bobby and Randy. They were all cute little boys, and I rather liked taking care of them.  They were fun to play with.

            When we were all finished, she took us back home, but she didn’t stay long.  She said she needed a nap, and so did the kids.  I don’t know why she needed a nap because she sure didn’t do anything that I knew of.  The kids needed a nap though.  They all three looked sleepy.  Margie and I gave them all hugs and kisses, and off they went.  I couldn’t believe Ola actually paid us.

            When we got home, Junior was lying down on the couch sleeping.  The door slammed when we went in, and it woke him up.  That made him mad, and he began to yell at us.

            “What are you two doing now?” he screamed.

            “We just got home from Ola’s,” I said.

            “Well, be quiet,” he said.

            “We are being quiet, Junior.  Are you crazy?”  I said.  “Get up.  You are so lazy.  You never do any work.”

            “What I do is none of your business, brat.”

            That did it! He called me a bad name.  I jumped on top of him and started hitting him and, pulling his hair.  He was trying to get my hands loose from his hair, but he couldn’t.  I had a good grip on him.  He put his hand in my face and was trying to make me let go.  I got his finger in my mouth and bit down as hard as I could.  Boy, did he let out a yell then.  He finally was able to get me loose and threw me on the floor.  We were both mad, and what we did when we got this mad you won’t believe.

            “This is war,” I said.

            “Fine, let’s get the weapons!” he shouted.

            The weapons were the silverware.  We could use everything except the sharp knives. We went into the kitchen and dumped the silverware on the table.  We drew straws to see who picked first. Junior won the draw, so he got first pick.  We could not use the meat forks either.  Junior picked a fork for his first pick.  I picked a fork next, and Margie picked a fork.  When everything was off the table, we went back into the living room.

            There were two big platform rockers in the living room that we turned over for a fort.  One of us would get behind the couch.

            “Everyone needs to take cover.  The war is about to start!” said Junior.

            “No cheating.  You can only throw what you have now.  No going back to the kitchen,” I said.

            “We know the rules, brat.”

            I hated it when he called me that!

            Margie was behind the couch, and Junior and I were behind the rockers.  I know this was a crazy thing to do, but we were kids that were not supervised very well in the summer.  We would do just about anything.  I don’t think we really knew how bad we could have been hurt.  It was something to do, so we made a game of it.  We were all under cover, so it was time to begin.

            Junior threw first at me, of course, and after that, it was just all of us throwing whatever we could at whomever we could.  No one ever got hurt.  I can’t imagine why.  After we ran out of ammo, the game was over.  We would pick up all the silverware and put it back in the drawers.  Then we would clean up the living room and set the rockers back up.

            For some reason we were all in a better mood after we had a war.  I don’t know why.  We could actually be nice to each other.  Even Junior was better.  Sometimes he would ask us if we wanted to play catch in the front yard.  It was fun when he was nice to us.  I liked him when he was like that.  He would laugh and tease us.  We could even wrestle in the grass and not be mad.

            It had turned out to be a good afternoon in the life of little Ruthie.

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Junior’s Shotgun

Personal History

            I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine why my daddy would buy my brother a gun.  But, he did.  Junior was not a hunter, so that was not the reason.  He gave it to him for Christmas when he was about sixteen.  It was a shotgun.  I did not know what kind it was then, but later I learned it was a sixteen gauge.  I do remember he was very happy that Christmas when he got the gun.  My Mother was not happy.

            “Why in the world would you buy him a gun, Elmer?” she asked my daddy.

            “He is old enough to have a gun.”

            “But, what does he need it for?”

            “I wanted to get it for him, Ellen.”

            “That’s not a very good reason.”

            They argued for days about the gun.  My mother was always the boss around our house, so I figured Junior would not get to keep the gun.  I think Daddy wanted to do something for Junior that was just between the two of them.  They were never very close because of my Mother.  She always told Junior what he could and could not do.

            I think my daddy wanted a relationship with his son, but my mother prevented that for some reason. As I said before, he was never punished for acting up.  He could do anything and get away with it.  More than once, Daddy was going to spank him when he did something wrong, but she would not allow it.

            She treated Junior like royalty, and I never knew why.  If there was anything he wanted, she tried to get it for him.  But, the gun was something he wanted, and Daddy got it for him. I believe that was the whole thing.  If she had bought it for him, it would have been all right.  I could be wrong though, but I don’t think so.

            Mother was insisting that Daddy return the gun, but he would not give in to her on this one.

            “I want you to take that gun back, Elmer.”

            “I am not taking the gun back, Ellen.”

            “He doesn’t need a gun.”

            “You might as well hush.  I’m not taking it back.”

            “Somebody could get hurt with that thing.”

            “Nobody will get hurt.  It’s locked up.”

            On and on they went.  For days, they argued about the gun.  I was getting real tired of hearing it.  My daddy was not a person who liked to argue.  When she would start talking about it, he would just go outside.  Mother would not give up though, and Daddy would not give in to her.

            Daddy was in the back yard one day, and I went out to talk to him.  Sometimes we would just sit and talk while Daddy drank his Progress beer.

            “Maybe she would stop arguing with you if you took the gun back, Daddy.”

            “No, Ruthie, I can’t do that.”

            “Why not?”

            “Because I will not let her win this one.”

            “Is it worth all this, Daddy?”

            “Yes, it is, Ruthie.  I wanted to do something for my son.”

            “Is that why?”

            “Yes, it is Ruthie.  Junior and me are not very close.”

            “And you think the gun will change that, Daddy?”

            “I don’t know, but I am hoping it will.”

            “I hope you’re right.  Junior is pretty spoiled.”

            “Yeah, he is.  Your mother is easy on him.”

            “I wish she was easy on me.”
“So do I, little girl.  So do I.”

            Things kind of quieted down for a while.  The gun was locked up most of the time, so I guess it was out of sight, out of mind.  I know my mother though.  Once she has her mind set on something, it is hard to change it.  Maybe that is where I got it.  I am the same way.  When I had something on my mind, I was going to do it or die trying.

            However, this was different.  Or, at least I thought it was.  This was my daddy trying to do something for his son, his only son.  I felt so bad for him.  He wanted to be friends with Junior so bad.  Why couldn’t my mother see that?

            One day when Mother and Daddy were at work, I walked into the bedroom, and Junior was sitting on the bed with the gun in his hands.

            “What are you doing, Junior?’

            “Just messing with my gun.”

            “I thought it was locked up unless Daddy was here.”

            “I know where the key is, and it’s my gun.”

            “I know it is, but you might get in trouble for having it out when Daddy is not home.”

            “No, I won’t get in trouble. I think I will try to load it by myself.”

            “That’s not a good idea.”

            “How would you know, brat?”

            He had a box of shells sitting on the bed, and he opened the gun to put a shell in it.  I moved away to the other side of the room.  I was scared that he didn’t know how to load it.  He put the shell in and closed the gun.

             I was just about to say, “Take your finger off the trigger,” but it was too late.

            The noise it made almost deafened me when it went off.  Thank God, he had pointed the gun at the ceiling!  Paint, plaster, and wood chips covered the bed, the floor, and us.  Junior looked scared to death.  He dropped the gun on the floor.  Margie came running into the room.

            “What was that?” she asked.

            “The gun went off by accident.”  I said.

            We all looked up at the ceiling at the same time.  There was a big hole there.  I don’t know how bad it was, but it did not look good.

            “I didn’t mean to do it,” Junior said.

            “I know you didn’t,” I said.

            “Will you tell Mother and Daddy what happened, Ruthie?  It was an accident.”

            “I will, Junior, but I think you better lock the gun up.”
He picked the gun up off the floor, put it in the cabinet, and put the lock on it.  He still had such a scared look on his face.  I was scared, too.  My ears were still ringing from the shot.  This was really a mess!

            “I think we better clean this room up before Mother and Daddy get home from work.”

            “Not me.  I didn’t do anything,” Margie said.

            “I’ll help you, Junior.  I gotta get the broom.”

            I went to get the broom, and I told him to shake the covers on the bed to get all the pieces of the ceiling off them.

            “I got the broom and the dust pan,” I said.

            “I shook all the stuff off the beds.  It is just all over the floor now.”

            “No, it’s on the dresser top and the chest of drawers, too.  I’ll go get a rag to dust it off.”

            Junior was sweeping when I came back.  Margie was doing nothing, just watching us work.  I started dusting, and that’s when I knew just how much dust was on everything.  It was a mess.  We cleaned almost all afternoon until it looked like Mother had cleaned it.  Well, maybe not that good, but it looked pretty good.

            There was only one problem left, the big hole in the ceiling.  There was nothing we could do about that.  We couldn’t hide it anyway.  We had to tell them.  It’s not like we could hide a hole in the ceiling from our parents.  Junior was going to have to tell them.  He fired the gun, so I thought he was mostly to blame.  I just stood there and watched him.

            “You have to tell them, Junior.”

            “Yeah, I know.  I will.  You didn’t do anything, Ruthie.  You just helped me clean it up.”

            “I’m sorry, Junior.  I don’t want you to be in trouble.”

            “That’s okay; I’m not a kid anymore.  I can take it.”
“She never spanks you anyway.  She will just yell at you.”

            “I’m probably gonna lose my gun now.  I feel bad after Dad fought her for me to keep it.”

            “Well, maybe not.  Just wait and see.”

            Our parents got home at the regular time.  Mother got there first, and Daddy came in just a few minutes later.  I didn’t say a word, but Margie the little snitch ran in the kitchen and said, “Guess what?  Junior shot a hole in the bedroom ceiling with his gun.”

            “It was an accident.  He didn’t mean to,” I said.

            “It’s alright, Ruthie.  I had to tell them anyhow.”

            “What has been going on here?”  Mother asked.

            “I was messing around with my gun, and it went off and put a hole in the ceiling.  I’m sorry, Dad.  It was just an accident.”

            They both went in the bedroom to look at the ceiling.  They were just standing there looking up when my mother just went crazy.  She began to scream at Daddy for buying the gun.  Then she was screaming at Junior because he could have killed one of us.  I had never seen her so mad.

            “I knew this would happen, Elmer.  He could have shot himself or Ruthie.”

            ‘Not Margie.  She wasn’t in here.  She just told on us,” I said.

            “Ruthie didn’t do anything.  She just happened to be in here,” Junior said.

            “Well, he didn’t shoot anybody.  Thank God.  I can fix the ceiling,” Daddy said.

            He was trying to get her off the subject of the gun by saying he would fix the ceiling.  I knew my daddy.  He was smart.  But, it didn’t work this time.

            “That gun is leaving this house,” Mother said.

            “Now, Ellen,” he started to say.

            “Don’t you ‘Now, Ellen’ me.  One of these kids could be hurt or dead right now.”

            “Okay, the gun will go.  I’ll try to sell it.”
Junior didn’t say anything.  I think he was glad the gun was going because it had caused a lot of arguments.  I think he knew what she said was true.  One of us could have been shot that day.

            “It’s okay, Dad.  I took the gun out, and I shouldn’t have.  Don’t feel bad about selling it.”

            The next day, Daddy did sell the gun to a guy he worked with.  He gave Junior the money out of the gun because it was his gun.  Mother got mad about that.  She didn’t think Junior should get the money because of what he did, but Daddy gave it to him anyhow.

            Junior and Daddy became a little bit closer after all that happened.  I was happy about that.  I was really mad at Margie for sticking her nose in where it wasn’t needed.  I told her I was going to beat her up for what she did to Junior.  I didn’t do it, but I sure wanted to.  I knew I would get a spanking if I did.  She was always like that when we were growing up.  I don’t know why.  I never told on anybody just to get them in trouble like she did.

            But, she was Mother’s favorite. She was frail and sickly my mother would regularly remind us.  I didn’t believe that for a minute.  She was just a little snot nosed, spoiled brat.  Well, this is another story in the life of little Ruthie, and believe it or not, I am still alive.

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Tales of Little Ruthie: Butch

Front Page, Personal History

            As a child, I only had one dog; his name was Butch.  My brother-in-law, Cecil, gave him to us.  He was a German police dog, or that was what I was told.  I think I loved that dog more than I loved my sister Margie.  I don’t know why Cecil gave him to us, but I was as happy as a clam when Butch came to live with us.

            Cecil had been in the Army during the war.  He was married to my oldest sister, Jean.  I always liked him very much, but after he gave me the dog, I really liked him.  We had a cat, too, a solid black cat.  His name was Tom, of course.  Well, he was a tomcat, after all.  The cat was of no interest to me, but my sister liked him.  But, when we got Butch, I knew what love was.

            One summer day, Margie and I decided to go to Lincoln Park to the zoo.  We made bologna and mustard sandwiches and filled a thermos with water, and off we went.  My brother was supposed to be watching us, but that dummy never knew what we were doing.  We just left, and he had no idea that we were gone.  I put Butch in the house so he could not follow us.

            We walked out to Lincoln Park in about thirty minutes.  We were hungry, so we sat down at one of the picnic tables and ate our sandwiches.  When we were finished, we pestered the golfers on the golf course a while.  They would hit their balls, and we would see where the went and get them.  They would be looking all over for them.  We would hide in a shallow creek that ran through the course where they could not see us.  For some reason, we really got a laugh out of them getting so mad because they could not find their balls.

            We soon grew tired of that and walked around the zoo.  It was not a very big zoo, so we could walk around it in about an hour or so, depending on what grabbed our interest.  When we were worn out from walking, we decided we better get home.  We had been gone for about three hours, and we figured that Junior had missed us by then and would tell Mother where we went.  We really weren’t allowed to walk all the way to the zoo, but we did it anyhow.

            Margie said, “I bet we are in trouble again, Ruthie, and it is all your fault.”

            “My fault?” I said.  “Why is it my fault?”

            “Well, this was your idea, so it is your fault.”

            “Well, you didn’t have to come, you know.  You could have stayed home with the big dummy!”

            “Well, I am going to tell Mother that it was your idea.  She knows how you are.”

            “Margie, I just hate you sometimes!”

            It was hot summer in Oklahoma, and when I got mad, I got even hotter.  We finally reached the path that cut across the field to our house.  When I could see our house, I said, “Let’s run so we will get home faster.”

            “No,” Margie said.  “It’s too hot run.”

            I started to run anyhow and left her behind.  I could see something lying in the path ahead.  I kept trying to figure out what it was.  The closer I got, the more it looked like a dog.  I looked like Butch.

            I ran faster so I could see better.  It was Butch.  I thought he was just lying there and waiting for me and Margie.  When I got to where he was, I got down on the ground and put my hand on him.

            “Come on, Butch.  Get up.  Let’s go home.”

            I tried to pick him up, but he wouldn’t move.  That’s when I realized that Butch was dead.  By then, Margie had caught up with me.

            “What’s wrong with him, Ruthie?”  Margie asked.

            “He’s dead, Margie!  He’s dead!”  By then I was crying, and so was Margie.

            “Go get, Junior, to help us carry him to the house,” I said to Margie.

            Butch must have weighed forty or fifty pounds, but I picked him up and was carrying him home.  I was crying my eyes out.

            “He just can’t be dead,” I kept saying to myself.  “He is my best friend.  Why did I go to the park?  I should have stayed home and taken care of him.”

            I could see Junior coming.  He ran up to me and said, “Let me carry him, Ruthie.”

            He took him out of my arms, and I ran to the house as fast as I could to call my mother.  I dialed her number at work.  When she got on the phone, I was crying so hard that she didn’t know what I was saying.

            “Put your brother on the phone,” she said.

            Junior got on the phone and told her what was wrong.  She told him she couldn’t come home right then.

            “Where’d you put Butch?” I asked Junior.

            “I laid him in the shade beside the house, Ruthie.”

            I went outside and sat down beside him.  I just could not believe Butch was dead.  What happened to him?  I was on the side of the house where my mother had morning glory vines covering the fence.  I heard someone talking on the other side of the fence.  It was Leroy and Lyndale.

            “I guess we took care of that dog.  He won’t be barking at us when we go by anymore,” Leroy said.  “That poison Dad had in the shed worked good on that meat.  He ate it before he tasted it.”

            I ran around the fence and started screaming at them.  Junior came out of the house and asked, “What’s going on out here?”

            “They did it, Junior!  They poisoned Butch!  I heard them talking about it!”

            Leroy said, “She’s crazy!  We didn’t do nothin’ to her dog!”

            “Yes, the did, Junior!  I heard them talking!  They didn’t know I was behind the fence!”

            Junior said, “Go on in the house, Ruthie.  Dad will take care of this when he gets home.”

            I didn’t want to leave my dog, but there was nothing I could do.  So, I just looked at Leroy and flew into him like I did my brother.  I started hitting him and pulling his hair.  I kicked him in the shins, too.

            Junior grabbed me and said, “Ruthie, stop that now and go in the house!”

            I thought my daddy would never get home.  I wanted him to get those two boys and give them a good whipping  for what they did.  He finally got home, and so did my mother.  I had cried all afternoon, and I was cried out.  At that point, I was just mad.

            Daddy set me down and said, “Ruthie, what did you hear Leroy and Lyndale say?”

            “I was sitting with Butch beside the house, Daddy, and I heard them talking and saying that they took care of that dog with poison their daddy had in the shed.  I went to the other side of the fence, and there they were.  Daddy, they didn’t know I was there, but I heard them say that they killed Butch.”

            Daddy looked at me and said, “Ruthie, you stay here now.  I am going to talk to their daddy about this.”  He looked at me.  “I mean it, Ruthie.  You stay here.  I better not see you ’til I get back home.”

            “I promise.  I’ll stay here.”

            He was gone quite a while.  When he got back, he said, “Their daddy gave them both a good whipping.  Now, he said, let’s go bury Butch.”

            We dug a deep hole on the shady side of the house, and we gave him a funeral.  All of us attended, Mother and Daddy, my brother Junior, my sister Margie, and me.  We all cried because we loved Butch.  He was a good dog.

            A few days later, I heard Leroy and Lyndale walking down the path beside the house.  They couldn’t see me because of the morning glory vines on the fence.  The trash barrel was next to the fence, and I picked up a tin can that still had the lid on it.  The lid was sharp on the edges.  I just threw it over the fence, and I got lucky and hit Leroy in the head.  He was bleeding from his head, and that night his mother came over and told my mother what I did.

            Mother looked at me and asked, “Did you do that, Ruthie?”

            I said, “No, ma’am, I did not.  I sure did not, Mother.  I don’t know who did it.”

            Tom, our black cat and Butch were good friends.  The always ate and slept together.  Tom left after Butch died and was gone for about a year.  He came back one day to see if the dog was there; I guess. When he saw he wasn’t, he left again that night, and we never saw him again.  So, there you have it, another day in the life of little Ruthie.

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Tales of Little Ruthie: Margie and the Crochet Hook

Personal History

           We were out of school for the summer.  I think I was about nine, and Margie was eleven.  Ola and Jeanie no longer lived with us. My mother and daddy were at work all day, and my brother Junior was supposed to take care of Margie and me.  That was a joke. He actually thought he was going to boss me around. I still hated him just as much as ever. I think it was because Mother thought he was perfect and could do no wrong.  Margie had always been her favorite, too, so there I was stuck between two brats, and I hated them both.  I guess they hated me, too, but I didn’t care.

            When Ola and Jeanie lived with us, it was better.  They would make Margie and Junior leave me alone.  Ola could beat Junior up, and she did when he made her mad.  She had a temper. Jeanie had taken care of us so much she was like a mama to us.  They never messed with her; they were afraid to.  When Jeanie’s husband Cecil came home from the war in Germany, they moved to their own house.  I didn’t quite understand why I didn’t go with her.  I asked Mother if I could go with Jeanie, but she said “Of course, not.  You have to stay here with us.”

            I really missed her when she moved.  I cried a lot when I would start to think of her. I really loved her. I guess I loved her more than my mother because she was always so good to me.  She would play games with me and hug me. She got me ready for school and made my lunch. She was the one who was there when I got home from school. When I was real little, she would rock me and sing to me.  And when she would put me to bed, she would kiss me goodnight and say, “Go to sleepy, little Ruthie.”  Yes, I really loved her, and I wished she were still living with us.  But, she wasn’t.  I was stuck with my brother Elmer Junior.

            Ola had been gone for quite some time.  She married Jim, and they lived in their own house.  I loved Ola, and she protected me from Junior, too, but it was different from Jeanie.  I was constantly trying to figure out a way to save my life.  I told my mother on him, but she thought he did no wrong so I was on my own.  I would just take each day as it came and pray to Jesus that he didn’t kill me.  He wasn’t too bad on Margie because she was sick a lot with earaches.  Plus, he knew Mother would believe Margie if she told on him.

            One hot afternoon, he locked us out of the house, and it gets really hot in Oklahoma in the summer.  We were beating on the door and begging to get in even though it was hot in the house, too.  We sure didn’t have air conditioning back then; we didn’t even have a fan!  But, it was a little better in the house than outside in the blazing sun.  I guess we were as poor as church mice. I never realized it so much before, but we must have been real poor if we didn’t have a fan in the summer to cool off.

            One day when we were with Junior, and he was supposed to be watching us, Margie and me got into a big fight about our paper dolls.  We were sitting on the bed playing, and she tore one of my doll dresses right in half.

            I looked at her and said, “Why did you do that?”

             She said, “Just because I wanted to.”

             I could feel myself getting hot and mad.  I knew I was going to punch her.  I tried not to, but what else could I do?  I grabbed a bunch of her paper dolls and  started to rip them up. Then, I grabbed her pigtails, pulled her across the bed, and doubled up my fist.  Then, I really let her have it.  She started to scream and cry. The next thing I knew, Junior was there trying to pull me off her.  I started hitting him, too.

            He told me, “If you don’t stop, I’ll tie you up!”

            He could do it, too, because he was bigger and stronger than I was.  So, I stopped.

            Then Margie picked up a handful of torn up paper dolls and threw them at me.  That was when I felt something hit the back of my head, and it didn’t feel like paper.  I reached back to feel what it was.  Nope, it wasn’t paper.  It was one of my mother’s real small crochet hooks.  I told Margie and Junior it was stuck in my head down close to my neck. Junior looked and tried to get it out, but the little hook would not come out.

            Then, the dummy said, “It’s stuck.”

             I said, “No kidding.  I already told you that.”

             Margie started crying, not because she felt sorry for me but because she thought I would tell Mother, and she would be in trouble.

            So, my brilliant brother told us to walk around the neighborhood to see if someone could get it out.  We went to see Mrs. Frank first.  She was a real nice lady who gave us candy sometimes.  She tried and tried, but it would not come out.  So, we went to see Mrs. Baker who lived next door.  Margie   was still crying and crying.  I was not crying.  I was just hoping that someone could get it out.

            I was holding it up to keep it from flopping up and down when I walked.  I looked at Margie and said, “Please, shut up.  I won’t tell Mother.  Just shut up.”

             She asked, “Do you promise?”

            “Yes, I promise.”

            She knew my promises were not too good, so she made me double promise and told me she would help me with my chores on Saturday.  That sounded good to me, so I agreed.

           Well, Mrs. Baker was not home, but Anita, her daughter tried.  When she couldn’t do it either, she told us to go home and call Mother at work and tell her what happened.  So, we went home, and I dialed the number at the Downtown Cleaners where she worked.

            When her boss answered, I said, “It’s Ruthie; I’m Mrs. Carter’s little girl, and I really need to talk to my mother.”

            She came to the phone, and I told her the problem.  She asked, “How did you do that?”

           I said, “I was taking a nap and rolled over on it.”  Margie had a look of relief on her face.  Mother told us to walk to 23rd Street to the doctor’s office and she would leave and meet us there.  She had to ride the bus there. We went back home to tell Junior what we were to do.

            “I’m not walking all the way to 23rd Street!” he said.  That was our great babysitter!

             I said, “I don’t care what you do!”  What a jackass!  I just hated him.

            So, off we went to the doctor.  I was holding up the hook in my head with my left hand, and Margie was holding my right hand and trying to make sure that I wouldn’t tell Mother.  I never did cry, but she cried enough tears for us both.

            We finally got to the doctor’s office, but Mother was not there yet.  I told the woman in the front what happened and that my mother was coming right away.

            The lady said, “We have to wait for your mother to get her permission.”

             I said, “It is my head.  I give you permission.”  The lady just laughed.

            I looked over to the door, and there was my mother.  I sure was glad. I was getting tired of holding that hook up.  My arm was worn out.

            Mother walked over to us, took one look, and said, “I thought you said it was in your hand!”

             “Nope, it’s in my head, and I sure am tired of holding it up.”

             The nurse came out and took us back to a little room.  Then the doctor came in and started looking at it.  He moved it around trying to get it out.

             I said, “It’s stuck.”

             Then he said, “Yep, I do believe it is stuck.”

             I was thinking, “What a stupid doctor!”  I already told him it was stuck.  I just wanted it out.

             He gave me a little shot where the hook was, and he cut it out, I guess.  It was just under the skin he said. Then, I get a tetanus shot, and we were all done.

            By the way, I never cried when I got shots.  Margie always did. Mother paid the doctor ten dollars.  That was a lot of money for us to spend on a crochet hook. I felt really bad. On the way home, I told my mother I was sorry she had to use money on the doctor for me.  Margie just kept looking at me with pleading eyes.  I never did tell my mother what really happened until we were grown.  I had traveled from Texas to see her, and Margie was there from Las Vegas.  We were talking and laughing about it, and we finally told her what really happened, that Margie and I were fighting and she threw it at me.

            She asked, “Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”

            I said, “Because I promised Margie I wouldn’t tell on her.”

           That was one promise I did keep.  I would have promised anything to shut her up. Seems like she cried all the time. I really did love Margie though. I loved going with her wherever she went. She was my best friend. She just didn’t know  it when we  were kids. I hope you enjoyed just another day with little Ruthie.

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Tales of Little Ruthie: The Creek and the Tire Swing

Front Page, Personal History


       We were lucky when we were kids.  We had a creek nearby where we could go play.  All the kids in the neighborhood played there.  There was a tall sand rock on one side of the water and woods on the other side. Someone had hung a long rope from a tall tree, and it had a tire tied to it.  We used it for a swing.  I’m not sure who was nice enough to do that for us, but we had a lot of fun playing on it.

      We would swing out across the creek and drop into the water.  I liked going there unless Leroy and Lindell were there.  They were the meanest kids in the neighborhood, and they lived right across the street from us.

       On the side where there was sand rock, I could find little king snakes.  They were black with a red ring around their necks.  I liked to scare Margie with them.  She was kind of a sissy.  She didn’t like bugs or snakes or anything like that.  I didn’t like big snakes, but the little king snakes were all right.

        One day when my daddy was at the creek with me, he showed me a crawdad.

        “You know what this is, Ruthie?” he asked.

        “Nope.  What is it?”

        “It’s a crawdad.  Let me show you something.”

         He turned it over, and under the tail was a whole bunch of little babies.  I couldn’t believe it!

         “How did they get there?”

         “That’s where they carry their babies.”

         “There sure is a lot of them.”

         “I’ll show you something else.  They’re good to eat.”

         “I don’t think they look too good, Daddy.”

         He built a little circle of rocks and told me to get some small twigs.  I did what he said, and he put some dry grass under the twigs.  Then he said to lift up some of the big rocks and catch the crawdads that were bigger and that had no babies.  We caught four or five, and Daddy pinched their heads off.  He pulled out a box of matches, lit one, and put it under the dry grass and twigs.  The next thing I knew, the fire started up!  He added some bigger pieces of wood to it.  I couldn’t believe it!  My daddy knew how to build a fire!  He sharpened two sticks, and he punched them into the crawdads.  He handed one to me.

           “Just hold it over the fire and roast it just like a wiener.”

           “Okay,” I said.

           “Not too long now, or you will burn it up.”

           “Tell me when it’s ready, Daddy.”
It just took a couple of minutes, and he showed me how to peel it and where the meat was.  It would be all right if you were real hungry.  There wasn’t much to eat though.  A person could starve if that’s all he had.

           “How did you like it?”

           “It was real good,” I lied.
What really got me excited was that my daddy could build a fire just like they did in the western movies!

           “How did you learn to build a fire like that?”

           “I was raised on a ranch, Ruthie.  You had to know how to build a fire.”

           “Why did we come here?  Why didn’t we stay on the ranch?”

           “It’s real hard work on a ranch.  Your mother and me were tired of working so hard.”

           “What did you do?”

           “Your mother cooked for the ranch hands, and I drove cattle.”

           “I wish we still lived there.”

           “No, you don’t, Ruthie.  You need to go to school so you won’t have to work so hard.”

           “I had to quit school in the fourth grade,” he said.

           “But, I don’t like school, Daddy.”

           He just laughed at me and hugged me.  I learned a lot from my daddy that day.  I guess he knew how to build fires so well because he was Cherokee Indian.  He always told me that he and Johnny Trueblood were real Indians.  That meant I was Indian, too, and I was happy about that.  I learned how to build a fire.  I don’t know if that was good or bad for me, but I never did burn anything up.

            After I learned how to build a fire, I did it all the time at the creek.  I even cooked a few crawdads.  The kids thought that was really something that I could build a fire.

           One day we were playing and swinging on the tire.  Margie, Annie, Jeanie Lou, Novelene, and Charlie were with me that day.  We had been there for about an hour.  Then LeRoy and Lindell showed up.  I was on the swing, and they began to throw rocks at me.  They picked on all of us all the time.

            I jumped off the tire, and all of us took cover in the woods.  We were trying to figure out how to get away from them.

            “Y’all might as well come out ‘cause you ain’t getting’ away!  Were gonna beat you all up!  This is gonna be our place to play!  Y’all ain’t allowed here no more!” hollered Lindell.

            “You just think you’re gonna take this place!  This is our placeI” I hollered back.

            “You’re that Carter brat!  I know who you are!”  (There was that brat word again!)

            “I’m gonna tell my big brother on you!  Then you will be sorry!”

            “He ain’t nobody!  We ain’t scared of him!”  Lindell yelled.
“Well, you better be!  He will kick your butts if you hurt us!”

            I didn’t know what to do.  I was talking all this talk about Junior, and I didn’t even know if he would help us.  Junior was sixteen or seventeen then.  They were about fourteen or fifteen.

            “I am gonna try to run around the back way and get Junior,” I said.

            “What if they catch you?”  Margie asked.

            “They won’t.  I can run faster.”

            I took off the back way out of the woods trying to stay low so they didn’t see me.  I ran as fast as I could to the house.  I was yelling for Junior.  He came out the front door.  I guess he thought I was hurt.

            Kenny, his friend, was with him.  I was talking so fast they didn’t know what I was saying.

            “You gotta come with me.  We’re in trouble.”

           We all took off running to the creek.  They really didn’t know why.  They thought one of us kids was hurt.  When we got there, you could hear Margie and my friends yelling.  Then we heard LeRoy and Lindell  saying what they were going to do to them.  They really meant to beat them up.  I could hear Margie crying.  Junior heard her, too, and he started running.  We could see them now by the creek.

            “Hey, you little creeps!  Is that all you have to do is scare little kids?”

            “You gonna stop us, Junior?”

            “Yeah, I think we will stop you.”

            By now we were down by the creek bank.  Junior was at least six foot tall, much bigger, and older than they were.  Kenny was not as tall, but he didn’t act scared at all.  All of us kids just watched and didn’t say a word.

            Junior grabbed LeRoy by his arm and twisted it behind his back, just like he did to me, but harder.  He kicked him in the butt with the side of his foot.  Kenny tried to get Lindell, but he took off running.  He left his own brother there by himself.

            “You kids can play here any time you want to.  These guys better not bother you either, or they are gonna be real sorry,” Junior said.

            “Thanks, Junior, for helping us,” I said.

            “That’s all right, brat.  You’re my sisters.  I have to help you.  But, try to stay out of trouble.”

            “We will.  I promise.  You and Kenny saved us.”

            Junior started walking and pushing LeRoy in front of him.  Every once in a while he kicked him in the butt again.  I liked that.

            They never did bother us anymore when we saw them at the creek, but they sure looked at us like they were still mad.  I wanted to run every time we saw them, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t let them know I was scared of them.  I had to act tough like my brother did.

            I learned something about my brother that day.  So did my sister, Margie.  No matter what Junior said to us or how many times he called us brats, we were his little sisters, and he loved us. And I knew he would not let anyone hurt us if he was there to stop it.  I stopped hating my brother so much on that day, and I could tell that we all three had different feelings from then on.  We were nicer to each other.  I believe that was the day we all realized that we were siblings, and we loved each other.

            I loved that creek, and I loved playing there.  I had two of the most important things in my life happen to me playing on that creek.  My daddy taught me about building wood fires and about crawdads.  Plus, I learned that the dummy, my brother, loved me.  I never called him dummy again.  He still called me brat, but in a nice way.  So, there you have it, another great day in the life of Little Ruthie.

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