One year after the Hale Street writers began meeting on Monday mornings, I invited the seniors to start a second group that would meet on Tuesday afternoons. One of my motives was to encourage my aunt Ruth to continue with her writing. She had already written a prodigious amount, but it was so good that everybody in the family wanted more. Ruth is the second of five siblings who grew up on a farm in Randolph Center (my mother, Idora, is the oldest). Her writing is observant, sensitive, and often very funny—like Aunt Ruth herself. Here is a short excerpt from "Winter Morning," a reminiscence about the farmhouse routine of her childhood years, back in the day when clothing was handmade, right down to the woolen underwear:
"My older sister and I each were responsible for seeing that our younger siblings got dressed. The hardest thing to accomplish was getting on the stockings in any sort of acceptable fashion. This involved getting long, heavy stockings on smoothly and getting the long underwear down over them so they looked acceptable. There was much yanking and folding. My little sister was fortunate because my older sister was assigned to her case and my older sister was fairly adept at creating a smooth union of stockings and long underwear. My younger brother was not so lucky, because I seemed to lack the expertise to do the job and avoid carnage. Marion started the day with smooth legs. Charles and I started the day with lumpy legs."
Idora, Ruth, and Charles have all written about life on the Cooley farm during their early years. It is fascinating to see how their memories compare. Their mother, Gertrude, took many pictures of her children while they were growing up. The one above shows the four older siblings (from left: Idora, Charles, Ruth, Marion). John came along a couple of years later.