Ralph Pruiett, Sr. - A Trip Down Memory Lane
Youth to Manhood
On May 15, 1915, William Ellis Pruiett and Erma May Brown, being very much in love, took a train to Muncie, Indiana, where they were married by a Justice of the Peace. William was 22 years old and three days later Erma would be 21.
My sister, Thelma, was born on October 18, 1916, and I was born on January 13, 1919. We were both born in the upstairs bedroom of Grandma and Grandpa Brown's home on Garland Ave. in Linwood. This street was across the railroad tracks from Eastern Ave. and Beechmont Levy. Grandma and Grandpa Pruiett lived five houses down the street.
My first memory, at about three years of age, we lived on Water Street in Milford, Ohio. My father was a salesman for the Prudential Insurance Company. At this time my sister, Thelma, had Chicken Pox and we passed toys up and down to her window in a little bucket. Dad had a Model “T” Ford Sedan, with no windows. On our trips to the city, on our way back home, Thelma would sleep on the back seat and I slept on the floor.
The year 1924 found our family living on Walworth Ave. in the East End in an apartment next to Uncle Eben Turner, my mother's uncle. At this time Dad bought a lot in Madison Place at 6743 Cambridge Ave., one block from Mariemont. Bobby Bill (Robert William), my brother, was born on April 16, 1924 on Walworth Ave.
Dad was now working for the LeBlond Machine Tool Company in Oakley. Our new home was started. On September 27, 1924, my Grandfather Acy Pruiett died at his home on Garland Ave. Grandpa had worked for the Street Car Company at the Eastern Avenue Barn for twenty-four years. He could sign his name, but he could not read or write. A few weeks after Grandpa Pruiett died, we moved into our new home on Cambridge Ave.
Our little house had four rooms and a basement. We had a kitchen, dining room, living room, one bedroom, and an outhouse. Cambridge Ave was just a dirt road. Mom and Dad slept in the bedroom with Thelma on a cot at the foot of their bed. Bobby slept in a small bed by the coal stove in the dining room and I slept on a cot in the same room. The first load of coal we received for the house was dumped at the corner on Plainville Pike. Dad had to haul it to the house in a wheelbarrow and dump it into the cellar.
In September 1925, I started First Grade at Madisonville School. That day, I had never walked so far as that one mile to and from school and I was six years old.
I remember when my brother Bobby was born in 1924, my Dad was confined to bed with Rheumatism. My Mom needed a tub to bathe the baby, so she called on Grandpa Pruiett, who could not read or write, to go to Shillito's Department Store for her. Mom wrote a note and drew a map to direct him from Fountain Square to the department store. He returned with the tub. This was five months before he died.
My life as a child was very much like all other children of that time. The great depression hit in 1929. My dad lost his job at R.K. LeBlond. During the next three years he worked on the County Road Gang and any other odd jobs he could find at the time.
At this time our house payment was 15 dollars a month. My Dad, like many others, could not make the payments. The Building and Loan did not want to foreclose on the house because they had no buyers. At their request, he paid 5 dollars a month in interest. Finally, in 1933 Dad got a job at the Chevrolet Plant in Norwood, Ohio. His pay at this time was 19 dollars a week. Things were beginning to look up. In 1935, Dad helped to organize the union at the plant and was still a steward at the time of his retirement in 1957.
My best friends as I grew up were Charles Mullenix, Stanley Bennet, Sammy Blust, and Clarence Hessler. We played many games including marbles, mumblety peg, baseball, and tag football. Our biggest fun was building our camp on Mr. Marback's farm at the end of our street. We built bunks on the inside and for nearly two years we slept there winter and summer. One weekend a funny thing happened. We looked down the street and saw our camp burning. We all figured that the old farmer did not like our hangout, so he burned it down.
In 1936 I quit going to school in the daytime and enrolled in night school at West Night High School, where I remained until 1940. In the daytime, I started my first job at the A & P store at 10 dollars per week. I gave Dad 5 dollars a week for room and board. In 1938 I started working for the Globe Werneke Company in Norwood. I now made 23 dollars a week and gave Mom and Dad 10 dollars a week for room and board.
In the meantime the war in Europe was raging and the draft was in full swing. Every year the Globe closed for June and July to catch up with inventory. In 1941, when the layoff came, I told Dad I was going to see about volunteering for the draft to get my year of service over with. On July 15, 1941, I reported to Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, for induction. On July 18, 1941, I was headed for Taft, California.