Two Balls and Two Blocks

Feb 16, 2012 | 0 comments

Katherine, John, RuthieD, Barbara, Cecil

     I had two great aunts who were named “Ruth.”  First, was my grandmother’s younger sister Ruth Richardson who, from 1902 until 1907, attended Mills Seminary in Oakland, California.  While there, she met Ruth Davis of Millbrae, California, and they became great friends.  To distinguish them from one another, their classmates began calling Ruth Davis “RuthieD,” the name by which she was always known to the Espys.
     Both girls had somewhat unusual family situations giving them an even closer bond.  Ruth Richardson was enrolled at Mills shortly after her mother died and her father (my great-grandfather) was courting Eva Gaches, who would soon become his second wife.  Similarly, Ruth Davis’ father had died and her mother had remarried.  While Ruth Richardson was the youngest child and would soon be involved helping care for her older sister’s brood in Oysterville, Ruth Davis was the eldest and early on took responsibility for her younger brother, Herbert.  The two Ruths’ lives became forever intertwined the summer of 1909 when Ruth Davis visited Ruth Richardson in Oysterville and met my grandfather’s youngest brother, Cecil.
     Perhaps because Ruth, born in 1890, was so much younger than my grandmother – really, closer in age to my grandparents’ oldest child, Medora,– she was never called “Aunt” Ruth by the children.  And, perhaps because RuthieD was Ruth’s friend and they were the same age, she was never called “Aunt” either.  They were the only ones of that generation with close ties to the family who were not given that honorific– even my grandparents’ childhood friends were known as “Aunt” or “Uncle” by my mother and her brothers and sisters.
     RuthieD was the grandmother of my Red House Cousins.  Many of them have inherited her artistic ability and general joie de vivre – or at least I think that’s how they happen to be so full of fun and exuberance.  I don’t believe that came from the Espy side of the family.  RuthieD’s namesake granddaughter, Ruth, recently told me that RuthieD referred to her children as “two balls and two blocks.”  Cecil and Barbara rolled along to do their own thing, but Katherine and John had to be encouraged.
     RuthieD died in 1955, before I had an opportunity to really know her.  I’m sorry for that; I’m sure I would have liked her.  I wonder if she would have seen me as a ball or a block


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