Friday, July 2, 2010
At 95...Ruby still represents
Learning the internet at 91? It sounded like a good idea to Ruby. A fiercely loyal fan of the UNC women's basketball program, she waited anxiously for her grand-daughters visits...armed with her laptop, she would fill Ruby in on the latest developments of the Lady Tar Heels and show her clips from away games. Then, she got the news that her grand-daughter and her husband were being relocated out of state for his job. She knew what she had to do.
"I had her order me a lap top. I spent hours on it each day...learning how to work it. I went to the community college and took a beginner's course on it. I was the oldest person in there by 30 years. I upgraded my home service to broadband. I am truly amazed at the things I find on-line."
For Ruby, it is just another chapter in a life that has been one adventure after another. Born in 1915, the second of six children of a hard-working farmer and farmer's wife in rural North Carolina...Ruby recalls she walked 3 miles a day round trip to attend a one room school. She used a horse some days...by the time she entered high school...she made the 9 mile trip with her siblings in a Model T Ford.
"I fell in love with basketball in the 7th grade. We had a team, and our coach made me a guard. We had a jump ball after every basket and there was one particular spot on the court that I shot from very successfully. I scored 7 goals in a game...that was unheard of back then and they sent out a reporter from the local paper to do a piece about me. I was so embarrassed and nervous about it that I swallowed my gum and nearly choked during the interview."
The Depression hit Ruby's family hard and any plans of going to college disappeared when she graduated from high school in 1934. A friend got her a job as a waitress in a Charlotte, NC restaurant...and an apartment upstairs that they shared with "a woman of the streets. She made three times the money we did..but we wouldn't let her 'entertain her clients' in our place...so she had a deal worked out at one of the hotels. We worked the morning shift and lunch...I bet I've served a million cups of coffee in my life..."
"That's when I met Charlie. He would stop in and drink coffee. He was so handsome, a broad, bushy mustache and tall and strong. All of us girls, we were crazy over him. I almost fainted when he asked me to the movies."
"Well, the movies turned into a 59 year marriage...producing 4 children, 13 grand children and 'I have no idea' how many great grandkids...I can't even remember their names." she laughs. "He moved us to Raleigh to take a job as a hosiery salesman. I found a job as a waitress. I had our first son...Gerald...exactly nine months after we got married."
After Charlie passed away in 1995, the kids wanted Ruby to move in with one of them. She had no such intentions.
"This is my home. I will stay here until I go to meet Charlie in the heavens above. They finally gave up on trying to get me to move and they're good about stopping in all the time to clean, cook and they take me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast sometimes."
I asked her to share a favorite memory with me and she responded with:
"Charlie and I took an airplane trip to Calfornia years ago. We drove to Atlanta and flew out of there. He had us first class seats and we were sitting next to this short, kind of ugly man but...honey, he was funny! He had us in stitches...everyone in first class..the entire flight. His name was Rodney Dangerfield. He was going to Hollywood to play a role in a movie called "Caddyshack". I still have an autographed picture of him."
Ruby attends almost all of the Lady Tar Heel home games each year. Her youngest son Robert takes her and she likes to sit across from the opposing team's bench.
"I've been watching Sylvia Hatchell on the sidelines for it seems like 30 years..I like to see what some of the other coaches are up to when they come in to play Carolina Blue."
She has her rituals. Robert takes her for a post game drink...win or lose...at a restaurant in Chapel Hill. She'll have (1) Winston cigarette on the ride home...her final smoke of the day... she'll have three smokes each day.
"The doctor he told me years ago to give up the cigarettes. I attended his funeral, too." she laughs. "And, I like a shot of Makers' Mark...water back...now and then. That's was Charlie's drink. He'd drive to Louisville sometimes on business and bring back a case of it. We couldn't get it down here in the ABC stores for a long time. Charlie was a hustler..a great salesman. He paid practically nothing for that Makers...always working an angle..making a deal."
She takes her Carolina Blue towel to home games and will fluff it in disgust if a call goes against UNC. She'll tell you that she likes "that pretty girl coach out in Oklahoma" and "that handsome guy at UConn."....but "I wouldn't walk across the street to shake hands with prissy Pat Summitt or that "phony Joanie" coaching Duke. I really liked Kay Yow...even though she was at State. I cried when she passed away. You have a good young coach up there in Louisville with that Jeff Walz and I fell in love with the way Miss Angel played. I follow her Atlanta team on line."
She'll cue up this blog sometime later today and probably shoot me a e-mail fussing about all the attention. She'll browse the internet and look for Lady Tar Heel articles. She's told me to tell coach Walz that he's getting a steal with Cierra Warren's transfer from UNC to Louisville. Eventually sometime today, she'll go outside..assisted by one of the kids or grandkids and check on her tomatoes and marigolds. Then, she'll spend her evening crusing the 'net...and I'll probably get another e-mail if she finds an article on something UofL related.
I look forward to it.