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Monday, July 17, 2017

(6) SHE PLUNKED HERSELF DOWN IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION.

December 1959
Dear Babs,
     Hark to the latest Ruthish saga!   My friend, Alice Fisher, ten days ago asked me and several other friends including Ruth to dinner at her house, New Year's day.  We all accepted, Alice bought the chicken and other things for a grand dinner.  Then two days ago, Ruth called Alice and told her that Wyman was coming.  Alice promptly invited her to bring him.  A few hours later, Ruth phoned again, asking Alice if she would have dinner at 1:30 instead of 1 p.m. as she felt she couldn't make it from church by 1 p.m.  Alice phoned everyone, telling them of the change.  A couple of hours later, Ruth phoned again, saying she was going to have an oyster party at six p.m., asking all the people that Alice had invited—so would she please call off her dinner, as Ruth thought no one would want to go out twice in one day.  "But," Alice protested, "I made my arrangements for dinner long before you planned your supper party!" 
     Believe it or not, Alice called off her party.  When she told me this, I was angry.  I said: "Why didn't you tell her not to come if she didn't want to—but go on with the dinner for the rest of us!"
     "I don't know!" she said sort of helplessly.
     "Well, I'm not going to give up a nice New Year's dinner for an oyster stew!" I declared.  "I'll find someone who will go out to dinner with me—if I don't, I'll go alone!" 
     Later, Alice phoned me and said she had decided to have the dinner after all, leaving out Ruth and Wyman.  That evening, Alice and I went with Ruth to a movie; she acted very grumpy and looked like a thundercloud.  Alice had told her she was having the dinner, of course—and Ruth, I guess, was mad tho why she should have been I don't know.  Alice declares she will never again let Ruth arrange her social life for her.
     Oh I forgot to tell you one funny thing.  When Ruth phoned Alice saying she wanted to bring Wyman to dinner, she said:  "You can leave Ernestine out of the party so as to keep the number even.   You see Ernestine so often!"   Alice answered: "You can bring Wyman—but Ernestine is coming."    
    I do hope you and Ed are having a lovely time in Fort Lauderdale.  Ruth doesn't know you are there or she'd be inviting herself for a visit.
     An undated letter that I deduced was December 1959, described a visit to my brother's house.
Dear Babs,
     I have just returned from visiting Dick accompanied by Ruth.  I guess you'd call it a visitation not a visit.  Dixie phoned just before we started, saying she was leaving immediately to see her father who was ill.  I asked her if it would be a convenience for us to be there to help Dick with the meals, children etc and she said it would be.  I believe we were really needed and for a while I felt truly grateful to Ruth, for she had thought to bring along a meat loaf, a chicken stew and gingerbread.  I brought cookies and ice cream, and we were thus prepared for a few meals at least.  The children were pleased with the food.  Brucie kept rubbing his stomach and saying: This is good food, it surely is good food.  I wish you always cooked for us.  You're a better cook than our sitters." 
     My heart warmed to Ruth, and I thought we might really have a perfect time and  manage to evade unpleasant episodes.  Alas, how brief were these optimistic musings, and how erroneous!  Ruth saw Dick at dinner, after dinner and until bedtime on Saturday.  Then on Sunday she accompanied him to church, heard him preach three different times, had breakfast, lunch and dinner with them all.  Wouldn't you have thought this would satisfy her?  No.  Not Aunt Ruth.  
      Sunday night at 9 P M, Dick turned on the television.  We'd missed Ed Sullivan but there was time to hear the G. E. hour and Hitchcock.  We were both eager to see these programs, for both of us were weary.  He was "pooped," as Aunt  Alma used to say, and so was I.  I had stayed home while Ruth went to the first sermon and during this hour or two, had done the breakfast dishes, swept the entire lower floor (the children track in that horrid dark Florida dust), the back and front porch, had wiped noses, taken children potty, made beds and started lunch.  I thought I'd done my girl-scout deed for the day.  Well, to go back to Ruth . . . as soon as Dick turned on the television Ruth said:  "You're not going to listen to television, are you?"
     "Oh yes," I told her, "there are some good programs on now.   Why don't you listen for once, Ruth—really listen?"
     The play was going on, of course, and Dick and I were trying to listen even while I was attempting to persuade Ruth to listen, too.  She rose, plunked herself down on a chair she pulled in front of the television, and leaning toward Dick, she shook her finger at him.  "Do you mean, Richard Beyer, that you would rather listen to that confounded thing than talk to me?"
     "Yes," I said distinctly, answering for Dick who made no reply, but patiently craned his neck trying to see around Ruth.
     "Please," I said, "relax and enjoy the program."
     She sat up straight in her chair, staring at the screen.  "Is that supposed to be funny?" she asked sarcastically.  "Is that sad?"
     "Be quiet, Ruth!" I said.
     "I didn't come to watch television!" said Ruth.  "I came to see Dick.  This program is not of a caliber to interest me."
     "Will you be quiet!  Dick and I find it interesting."
     Meanwhile, Dixie had returned from her visit to her father.  "I don't care if I miss this program," she said.  "If you want to talk, come with me."  The two went away, and Dick and I contentedly watched Hitchcock's play, and after that, Loretta Young's.  Then we all went to bed.  To my surprise, instead of lying awake mulling this over, I fell asleep.  Guess I was exhausted.
     This morning (Monday) I overheard Ruth criticizing Dick for preaching about evil.  His answer was very patient.  Actually he doesn't preach about evil.  She says he accents the negative but she is the one who does that.  All the way home she talked about the children and Dick and Dixie so critically that finally I burst out:  "I can't take it, Ruth.  I think Dick is so marvelous, his faith so extraordinary . . . he deserves nothing but praise and that's all he's going to get from me.  He has given up smoking and drinking, he accepts the confusion and poverty uncomplainingly, and he is helping people so genuinely.  If he continues to improve in coming years at this rate he may have a big church someday."
     Whether or not this happens, I feel he will be a happy man in his own way.  And Dixie is the perfect helper.  Their children are truly sweet though the poor little dears look like ragamuffins.  The girls are so lovely, so very pretty.  I'd love to be able to fix up the whole house for them.  But neither cares very much about worldly goods, and how fortunate this is!  I'll bet the girls will be so beautiful that they will either go on the stage or make good in some way
     I was deeply touched by Dick's preaching, I can honestly tell you that.
     Well, cheerio, Sweetie‑pie.  Pass this on to Janeth, will you?   I seldom write such a long letter.  (Love to you, precious Jan)

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