Scenes from A Life: Ruth’s Story

Scenes from A Life: Ruth’s Story

Sorting through more of Ruth’s memorabilia, I continue to come across fascinating tidbits of information that provide little clues about her life. But every clue also raises a dozen questions about all of the details of her life that AREN’T here. So far, I’ve managed to inventory the contents of about half of the ten huge boxes of photo albums, scrapbooks, letters, diaries and other memorabilia that were given to me. And I have to say, it’s a little overwhelming to figure out how to pull all of this together into a book. So for now, in order to make it somewhat more manageable, I thought I’d occasionally share little bits of what I’m discovering about Ruth’s life and her family, and invite all of you to comment.

Here’s a first sampling, from 1939:

May 1939: Ruth, age 13, is in a production of “Little Women” at Rydal Hall, She has been attending Rydal, a private girls boarding school outside of Philadelphia, since she was 7 years old. Rydal is part of The Ogontz School. Rydal is for girls in grades K-8, and Ogontz is for grades 9-12.

Jun 1939: Ruth completes grade 8 and graduates from Rydal Hall. Her father pays a deposit of $50 to hold a place for her in grade 9 at Ogontz in the fall. Ruth goes to Ogontz White Mountain Camp, in Lisbon, New Hampshire, for the summer, as she has been doing every summer since she was 7 years old. She turns 14 that summer.

Sep 5, 1939: Excerpt from a letter from Abby A. Sutherland, The Ogontz School’s headmistress, to Ruth’s father, announcing the opening of the new academic year at Ogontz:
“We are looking forward with great interest to having your daughter, Ruth, with us this year. With her loyal cooperation we shall expect a year of rich benefits and happy associations for her.”

Oct 5, 1939, tuition bill from Ogontz to Ruth’s father shows:
• Tuition for first semester: $900
• Music with Miss Parker: $105

Ruth’s father writes to the school secretary, Miss Austin, asking whether the $50 deposit he had paid earlier in the year to hold a space for Ruth at Ogontz should have been applied against the first semester tuition. Miss Austin replies saying that school policy is to apply the deposit to the second semester tuition.

Nov 15, 1939: Excerpt from letter from Leota C. Colpitts, Dean, The Ogontz School to Ruth’s father:
“Ruthie has turned over your letter concerning Thanksgiving to me. The school celebrates the 23rd of November as the Thanksgiving holiday. Classes continue as usual Friday and Saturday although the girls are permitted to miss these classes on the condition that they make them up the following two Mondays at paid tutoring. I do not know what plans you have for Ruthie but in view of the fact that she has been in the nursery and will have much work to make up I would suggest that she did not miss Friday and Saturday classes. She might leave school Wednesday afternoon and return Thursday night thus celebrating with you and missing no school work. From the point of view of Ruthie’s work this would be the most satisfactory arrangement.”

Nov 17, 1939: Excerpt from letter from Ruth’s father to Miss Colpitts:
“In reply to your letter regarding Thanksgiving holiday period for Ruthie I would say that invariably I am disposed to be guided by what you consider as being to Ruth’s best interests. So I have written to Ruth telling her what you said about the time she spent in the nursery and that she would miss classes which would have to be made up the following two Mondays at paid tutoring. I also wrote her that if agreeable to Mr. and Mrs. Beale and she and Anna planned something for Thursday it would be all right with me.”

Nov 16, 1939: Excerpt from letter from Miss Austin, secretary at The Ogontz School to Ruth’s father:
“It is so very good of you to take this interest in your daughter’s cash account. Many of the students say that their parents put them into the waste baskets. I gave the talk to the girls. In former years a cash account like Ruth’s could not have left the office without more care having been given to it, but our instructions have been somewhat changed. Ruth was told about the spilling of dues. Now as to the balance on the credit side. It may be made up of two amounts. We know that the amount in the bank on Nov 3, 1939 was $12.45. The difference of $2.60 should equal the amount of money in her purse. When the next account is made, I shall take delight in having Ruth’s work directly under my own supervision. I shall also explain to her all of the reasons for the form. Again let me thank you for your interest. These cash accounts have been going on for 39 years to my knowledge with improvements. We sometimes use this stamp: “Your daughter has made a budget of this account. It will be sent to you at the end of the school year.” Ruth made her budget for October.”

Dec 1, 1939, letter from Abby A. Sutherland, The Ogontz School to Ruth’s father
“May we ask your sympathetic support in maintaining a standard of simpler living during the holidays with less outside entertainment and more home reunion? Will you aim to return your daughter to us in as good condition of health as we send her to you? Late hours are detrimental to poise, concentration and contentment on return to school. If you find on talking with your daughter any matter of help to us in our work for her better development will you kindly write frankly to us? With best wishes for Christmas and a happy reunion with your daughter.”

Fascinating, isn’t it? Yet, so many unanswered questions . . .


What questions would YOU want answered about these snippets from Ruth’s life?

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa ruths story

Next: Living Downstream

Previous: More Buried Treasure