Ruth Masters

What kind of work did your parents do?

My father did everything that he could get. He was a very well read man but he didn’t have a classy occupation in any of the trades so we were on what they called Relief. Thousands of people didn’t have jobs, and we got about 20 bucks a month Relief money and the only relief anybody got was when it was over.  They had to go out and dig ditches and so on to get money. That was the Depression.

Ruth, maybe you could say more about making and fixing stuff in your workshop.

So you can capture these pearls of wisdom, eh??

Well, apparently underneath here there’s quite an operation.  What kind of things do you like fixing in your workshop?

In the basement? I never go out to make an industry of it. Whatever gets broke gets fixed. I have a hobby shop in the basement. I used to do leather work and I don’t do it as a hobby any more, but anything that breaks I can fix.

It’s hard to realize now what it was we all went through but, as I say, to me it was an advantage because I can make and do and fix a lot more than the average lady – and that all started when I was cutting up an old bicycle tire to fix the heels on my shoes that I needed to walk to school in.

Did you do all this embossing? It’s gorgeous.

Oh yes, I made it 25 years ago. It’s going to see me through. You see, it’s had a lot of wear. Twenty five years for one purse.  Did everyone get a bookmark? I keep them here for my little bribes and payoffs and handouts and so on.

I was going to do some bookmarks for you girls too.  (writing names, hands out bookmarks) Let it dry.  These come with a lifetime guarantee of course. If it wears out, you have to come and see me. I used to teach leather-craft years ago. These are made out of recycled luggage from the thrift shop so they’re not a huge investment or anything, but I always tell people that they’re far superior to the cardboard things you get when you buy a book.

What changes have you witnessed here on your own property?

Very little, actually. I’ve made a point of not meddling any more than I have to and you can see the front out here. It’s very messy now because the leaves are off the trees, but that used to be solid lawn right from the house here to the road. And then I finally, oh about 30 years ago now, wised up because it was a misery to mow with the creek there…. I brought in a few hundred sword ferns and I call it my fern garden there now.  And the main advantage is I don’t have to mow it anymore from one year to the next and I have my deer feeding stations out in the front here. My deer come every night to be fed. They know that they’ll get their refreshments if they stand there and wait, and I get a sack of barley and oats every week for them. They’ll stand there and look in the window with a questioning look on their faces. They’re saying, “where’s the dame with the grub?”