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Archive for December 30th, 2009

Fun Photos: Gramma Ruthie (1920’s-1950’s)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I was digging through old photos on my computer this week. I found two of my “Gramma” Ruthie that I think are classic.

Here she is as a young unmarried woman, small town Minnesota but bobbed hair and as flapper as one could get. She’s the one at far right. I think she looks like she’s got something up her sleeve, in more ways than one.

Notice she’s shorter than the others but can you just see that they are paying attention to her? She had magnetism. She could “hold court.” The woman was fun, I remember her laughing frequently.


Here she was, I think my dad was in his 20s when this was taken. We’re talking probably mid-1950’s here. Doesn’t this look like a staged, cliche’ photo? Well, it was not at all.


You see, Grandma and Grandpa owned the Henderson Independent (Minnesota) newspaper then. Grandpa was a man of few words, and he was a printer who was very detail oriented. He did a very good job of getting that paper typeset and printed. (Later they owned the Janesville Argus, also small-town Minnesota but more like 1200 people)

Grandma? Oh, I’m so much like her  in personality it’s a little spooky. She was spunky, outgoing, personable, and she had been a “Girl Friday” before she married grandpa (whatever that job title meant, that is how they described her in the wedding announcement when they were wed). She knew how to work.

Grandma would get on the phone and call people and ask them what was up. Then she would write. And write. And write some more. She wrote the entire newspaper, once a week. I think the town was under a thousand people (they had come from a town of just over 400 people).

No doubt she did a bit of the advertising sales as well. Grandpa made sure that the words she wrote, got printed and distributed. But Grandma was the talking part of that partnership.

I often say “I have never run out of words.” Certainly, one could have said that about Ruthie, too.

I think I look more like my aunt Ruth (Mom’s sister). Photos of her at 13 and me at 13 are amazingly similar. But how do I act? Gramma Ruth. All the way.

(Here is another of Ruthie as a young woman. I want to say they were on vacation for this one, but I know nothing for sure.)


We are who we are. I’m glad to be at a point where I can just notice and observe who I am, for the most part. I’m so scattered at times that it’s a hassle. However, that ability to notice and be distracted also helps me draw creative connections I might not see otherwise.

One last one. Under this photo in Grandpa’s tidy photo album, he wrote “My Ruthie.” Precious, for a man of few words. I once worked this up, thinking I would use it for a poster or T-shirt for our musical act (the music was popular when Ruthie looked like this). I never did, but you can see the product of my work here.


The photos are good enough without text, but I just had to tell the stories I know. I may have some of the specifics wrong, but the essence is real.

Gramma’s not gone. She’s got a few kids and grandkids around, still being just as passionate and social as she was. Gramma is in me.