Ruth Pruiett - Memories
When I finished high school, the lady I had been helping with babysitting and who had taught me all that I knew about sewing, which wasn't much, Bess Watkins, introduced me to her sister Rose Young and her husband Elmer. They had another sister Leila Bourne, who was a Registered nurse, a graduate of Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. Between them, they persuaded me to move to Cincinnati to live with Rose and Elmer until I could save enough money to go to Nursing School. I was only seventeen years old when I graduated from High School and moved to the Big City to be on my own. Rose and Elmer came to visit Bess in May of 1940 and I rather fearfully came with them to Cincinnati. I arrived with not much more than the clothes on my back. Rose helped me get a job and save enough money to enter Nursing School at Jewish Hospital. At that time, the cost for three years was 275 dollars. Rose and Elmer promised to help me with spending money and Leila told me that she would take me to the Charlotte Schmidlapp Trust Fund to borrow money after I had been in school for six months, which she did. From the first, they treated me as though I belonged to them. In the early days we worked long hours cleaning up and painting an old row house that they bought on Calhoun Street in Corryville. Elmer was a conductor on the old Cross-town Street Car Line and in the evenings, Rose and I would get cleaned up and go out and ride a couple of rounds with him. In those days you would get a transfer ticket when you rode one car that would be good on another car, so Elmer would always leave us transfers so that we didn't have to pay. That was pretty good entertainment for us, if you can imagine it.
During this time Rose and Elmer called themselves my adoptive parents. Rose, being a very intense and flamboyant person alternately loved me and pushed me away. I remember visiting her several times when I lived in the dormitory at the hospital, when she would become very angry with me and I would leave and start walking back to the dorm, only to have her tap me on the shoulder a couple of blocks away from the house. Then we would make up until it happened the next time.
My first job was working in a dime store, Kresges at Peebles Corner. I worked from 2PM until 10PM on Saturdays and was paid just over 2 dollars for the evening. I usually walked home and would stop on the way for an ice cream cone - usually a large double dip raspberry, if I remember correctly.
Sometime in September, I got a job as a nurse's aide at Christ Hospital. At this time, I moved into the dormitory, which was a requirement for the first six months. I was paid $7.20 per week and managed to put most of it in the bank. Room and board was included in that. After the six months were up, Rose persuaded me to move out and come back to live with them. I got a big raise to $11.50 per week. Rose took the $1.50 and forced me to put $10 in my bank account. By hook or crook, I managed to have something over $275 saved by the time I entered Jewish Hospital Nursing School on August 27, 1941. If you do the math, you'll see that I had to live pretty frugally to have managed to save that much. I figure that I must have earned a maximum of $400. So that left me around $125 to buy any clothes I needed as well as any entertainment. Of course, things were much cheaper in those days.
A few months after arriving in Cincinnati, my Uncle Burl Seals, my Mother's brother in Tennessee wrote to me to tell me that one of my Mother's cousins lived in Price Hill. Thus, I met Uncle Jonah and Aunt Lillie Greer. Jonah was the son of my Grandmother Seals' sister, Josephine Greer. They contacted me and invited me to come out to see them. They were actually cousins, but since they were older, I called them Aunt and Uncle. I spent many happy weekends with them and with their son, Fritz and his wife, Christine. They made my off-duty hours much more pleasant. They also had two other sons, Paul and Mark, and a daughter Jenny. Mark became an Air Force pilot and was killed flying the China-Burma-India Hump during World War II.
Entering Nursing School was pretty exciting in some ways, although I was better prepared for it than most of the other students because of my work at Christ Hospital, where I had worked mostly on the maternity ward and in the nursery. Most of the other girls were fresh out of high school and away from home for the first time. This dorm experience was quite different than the dorm at Christ Hospital. There, I was the baby of the group, where many older employees chose to live at the hospital. Here, we were all pretty much in the same boat and much the same age. One of the first friends I made, however, was Florence Gibson, who was 28 years old, which we thought made her an "old lady." She was from Charlottesville, Virginia and spoke with a very southern accent. We remained good friends throughout the three years, although Muriel (Lacey) Rakel and I became closer friends. This occurred when we were assigned to one big room as roommates when we returned from our first vacation after capping. We only roomed together about six months, but remained pals. Most of our dorm rooms contained twin beds and during our last few months together we often spent the night in each other's room.