|USFDC Home||| RSS|
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nim 2200481Ia 4500
controlfield tag 001 002331776
006 m u
007 sz zunnnnnzned
008 101209s2003 flunnnn sd t n eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a S68-00006
Weaver, Ruth Miller.
Ruth Miller Weaver oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Connie J. Brown
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (90 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (34 p.)
Sulphur Springs oral history project
Interview conducted October 30, 2003.
Oral history interview with Ruth Weaver, a longtime resident of Sulphur Springs, Florida. Weaver grew up in Hillsborough County and moved to Sulphur Springs in 1941 after she got married. She lived in the neighborhood until 1971, when her father became ill and they moved to be closer to him. In this interview, she describes the social life and customs of Sulphur Springs, including recreational activities, education, local businesses, food and drink, going to church, and friends. She also mentions some memorable incidents from her childhood in the Six Mile Creek area, including an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan.
Weaver, Ruth Miller.
Sulphur Springs (Tampa, Fla.).
Sulphur Springs (Tampa, Fla.)
x Social life and customs.
Social life and customs.
Hillsborough County (Fla.)
Social life and customs.
Brown, Connie J.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Sulphur Springs oral history project.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL AUDIO AND TRANSCRIPT
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Connie Brown: This is an interview with Ruth Miller Weaver, resident of Sulphur Springs, Florida, conducting in her home on 10-30-2003 [October 30, 2003] by C.J. Brown, graduate student in anthropology for the University of South Florida. Mrs. Weaver, thank you for letting us have this time with you and conduct this oral history; we really appreciate it and we look forward to putting it in our archive.
Ruth Weaver: Youre mighty welcome.
CB: Well, lets start today with you giving me an idea about who you are and how you came to Sulphur Springs.
RW: Well, my father was in the real estate business, and we came to Florida in September of 1925. And when we reached Floridait took eleven days back then. So then, when we reached Florida and we spent the night in Sulphur Springs, the first night, and I was four and a half years old and just run up and down those boards. And the fussy tourists did like me making so much noise and my mother said, Listen that child has been tied up for eleven days. (tape warps) And then my dad had (inaudible) two room cottage down on Tampa Bay in Fishers Pen, and so the next day we went there. We had no water; we had the lights, but no water. We had to use the community bathroom and we had to carry water to wash dishes and all.
And there was a terrible storm that year, in the fall, and the lumber mill over on Fourth Avenue caught on fire and the boards would go over the house and hit the bedrooms. I was so scared. But anyway, (inaudible) we were there I dont remember how many years. But then my dad rented the home on Harper Street, and so it was just across the park. So we lived there till 1928, I guess. And then we moved out tohalfway between 6 Mile Creek [Road] in Mango and my dad rented a little grocery store there. And we lived there from 1928 to 1939. And I went to the 6 Mile Creek Baptist Church, had a lot of friends there.
But then when I married in July 3, in 1941, we rented for a few months but I wanted to buy. So I picked up Sundays paper and there was a little house in Sulphur Springs, 8410 Eighteenth Street. And we looked at it. It was furnished: four lots and a two-bedroom, one-bath house for $2,000, $250 down and $25 a month. Well, you could buy lots in Sulphur Springs then, $25 apiece. Who had the $25? We just didnt. But anyway, we moved there in December 18 of forty-one  and therewe had two daughters there and they both married there, and we lived there until my dad got sick in 1971. And then we sold that little house. We had put a fence around it and siding on it, we glassed in the front porchI mean, it was a lovely little house. But my dad was sick, so we bought a trailer and moved out to 6 Mile Creek in January of seventy-one .
And Sulphur Springs just had a lot of memories. My two children went there, I worked in the PTA, and there was a little grocery store on Waters Avenue. There was Randys and there was Gilbertsons, and I worked in both of those stores. I worked for Randys a long time, and then they sold out and moved to Turkey Creek. So then the Gilbertsons had sold their store to Riker, Mr. and Mrs. Riker from Michigan. And I kind of went along with the store: when theyd sell it, Id just be right in there, too. So that was the second person I worked for.
And we were robbed there one night, January 6 ofI cant remember the year now. But we were robbed, and the man came in with the hat on and he put a stocking over his face as he was looking at me. I was behind the register, and Mrs. Riker was over in the corner putting up Jell-O and stuff, and Mr. Riker was behind the meat counter. Well, the man come in and put a gun on me and said, This is a hold up. It was almost six oclock, and I always made a game out of life, I still do. I saw this man coming acrossin front of the windows to come in, and he had a real white face and I thought, Well, that man must have the flu. I bet he wants 666 [cold medication]. Thats what I thought. Well, anyway, when he came in he flicked that gun and said, This is a hold up. But it was so strange: he leaned against the bread case and took off his hat and pulled that stocking all the way downand me looking at him. And then he put his hat back on and then he pulled the gun out.
Well, Mrs. Riker was over there and Mr. Riker was behind the meat case, and I couldnt get that cash register open to save my life. I punched every button, I was so scared. So anyway, it finally opened; there was only $135.05 in there. But Mrs. Riker ran out the door and this man had his gun on me. He told me to go behind the meat counter and he went after Mrs. Riker and he hit her in the back of the head with this gun.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: Well, he told me to lean up against this wall, a door facing, and when I leaned up there the sweat just pulled down, it just poured down. So, Mr. Riker, he was just petrified. Well, anyway, to make a long story short, Mrs. Riker had a dress like mine and you could see my house from the store and a friend of mine was there and she told my husband, she said, Wilfred, hurry, Ruth has been hurt. Well, see it wasnt me; it was Mrs. Riker [that] was hurt.
Well, anyway, she got three numbers of that license plate on that car, but they never did find out who it was. Mrs. Riker went to the hospital, detectives came out there and they looked where I was standing. They said, Mrs. Weaver, you must have got scared: you wet your pantswet the floor. I said, No, that was sweat. Look at it, its running down the door frame.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: So, anyway, that was the end of that. The next day I said, Well, I got to go back to work, because if I dont Ill never work again. So, went back up there and then Riker sold it to another couple with children and all. And I worked for them for quite a while until I got a job at Charlies plant farm, and I worked the mail route on Sunday.
Lets see. And then my oldest daughter got married at Trinity Church and my youngest daughter got married in the back yard. And one graduated from King [High School] and one from Chamberlin [High School] and they both were married there and we moved out to the country in seventy-one . Im trying to think of howwell, my minds gone blank. But talking about Sulphur Springs
CB: Well, let me ask you a question before we get away from that incident at the drugstore, or grocery store. For those of us that dont know, you said he wantedyou thought he wanted 666?
CB: What is that?
RW: Thats a medicine that we used to have years ago; you took it for everything.
CB: Oh, really?
RW: You know, just everything. My grandmother used to put three drops of 666 on a teaspoon of sugar and she took it for everything. And she just thoughtyou know, I though thats what he wanted. I have always, always tried to make a game out of life. I mean, you could get stressed out if you dont.
CB: For goodness sakes.
RW: Now, I was active in the PTA. See, both girls went there to Sulphur Springs [Elementary School], but then when Carol was in the second grade the dividing line changed and she had to go to Cahoon [Elementary School].
CB: Right, right. Okay, where did your family come from when you originally moved to Sulphur Springs when you were a little girl, and why?
RW: We came from Davenport, Iowa. Dr. Carnie told my mother that, If you dont get her out this bad weatherI had bronchitis real badsaid, If you dont get her out of this bad weather, you will never raise her. So my dad worked for the railroad and they had a strike in 1922, so him and a friend had come to Florida in twenty-four  and, you know, looked at Sulphur Springs in Tampa and they just loved it. So then they came back and got Mama and I. And there were no houses to rent; if you wanted to live you have it built. So down at Fishers Pen, Daddy had this two-room cottage built.
CB: Oh, wow. So how many children are in your family? Are you an only child?
RW: Two. I have a sister that lives in Sapphire, North Carolina, and shes ten years younger than me.
RW: Uh-huh. Yeah.
CB: Okay, okay. And you said your dad was originally with a railroad, and then you said he went into real estate; is that pretty much what he did the rest of his time?
RW: No. See, theyou know, the boom1929, the Wall Street
RW: Well, real estate went down the tube, too. So we had this little store there and thats what weand then my dad started driving the school bus in thirty-five . Times were rough then, I mean real rough.
CB: Well, and that was one of the questions I was going to go to. Tell me about what you can remember about the Depression, and how it was living here at that time.
RW: See, wages in the South werent near as good as they were in the North, and wewell, if it hadnt been for thenow, this sounds terrible, but its true. The Ku Klux Klan, they gotthey had a meeting over on Davis Island. That night my mother and dad went someplace, and I thought, I wonder where they are going. They never go together. Well, thats where they went. And a friend of ours, Dr. W.J. Davis, he was in it. My mother and dad, I dont think they ever joined it, but they went for this meeting. And then Dr. W.J. Davisthe Christmas after that wouldnt have no Christmas at all. But he came out with a cardboard box with a chicken and some other things, and a red pocketbook for me and a stuffed chicken for my sister that they made in the WPA [Works Progress Administration] sewing rooms.
CB: Right. Oh, for goodness sake.
RW: And soI mean it was really rough then. When I graduated from Brandon [High School] in 1940 my daddy couldnt even give me a dollar to buy the class picture, it was that bad. And then in that time my dad fell off the roof of the store and broke his hip, so he was in the veterans hospital for months and months and months and months and months. And Mama and I was trying to keep afloat in this little store.
RW: So, I mean, things were really rough. But you know, I guess it makes me appreciate what Ive got now. I dont have a whole lot. What you see, this is what I got, but its much better than I had when I was little. And you know, Im kind of a person that if Im not happy with what Ive got, God will take it away from me. (both laugh) You better be happy with what you got, because you can lose it. Really, Im not a real religious fanatic as you say, but in my life God has led me
CB: Exactly, right. So did youwhat were you doing during those Depression years from 1930 to 1940? You were in school, right?
RW: Yes, and I was going to school and thenyou know, in the summertime if you could get a little job raking or pickin strawberries or something. I mean, I remember when we picked strawberries for a penny a quart. If you made seventy-five cents a day you were rich.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: Yes, maam.
CB: And that all went to your mother to help pay for the groceries right?
RW: Oh, yeah. And then when my dad got out of the hospital he started driving a school bus: and that was $50 a month, and that was big money!
CB: Was it really?
RW: Yeah, $50 a month.
CB: So, you tell me that he built this first little house. Can you kind of describe what you want to of it, or where the location [was], everything about it?
RW: It was up on kind of like stilts, because the water was right there, and it was just anope, it wasnt sealed inside, just two-by-fours and two rooms. Nothing: no sink, no cabinets, nothing, just two rooms. And we lived there, like I said, until we moved down on Harper Street. I started going to the Concord Baptist Church then because my dad was in real estate and he was gone every Sunday, thats when hed sell real estate, so she [her mother] and I would walk down to the Concord Baptist Center.
CB: So, did you buy the second house?
RW: No, we just rented it.
CB: Rented it, okay.
RW: I got to tell you something about that, one story brings another. One night we had been gone, Mama, Daddy and I. We parked our car over in the park, and we walked down about a block maybe. I was walking down and I saw Santa Claus going down this chimneyand it was on my side of the streetand said, I dont want to go home. I dont want to go home. Santa Claus hasnt got to our house yet. My dad says, Oh, I believe he has. I said, No, Daddy, he went to this one and he went to that one. So anyway they kind of talked me out of standing out in the street waiting to see him go down our place. So when we went in the tree had candlescandle lit and everything. To this day, I dont know how my mother and daddy managed that.
But while I was inside and I was looking out to see where he was, the Philips lived across the street and I saw him going down their chimney, but we didnt have a chimney. So he must have went through
CB: You were worried, werent you? (laughs)
RW: Kids are funny.
CB: So, tell me about this Christmas tree and the candles. Thats the first time thats come up anywhere.
RW: See, German peoplemy mother and dad are German people, and we didnt have electric. We had lights in the house, but you didnt buy tree lights; they didnt have any. So you had candles on each branch and you had to light them all each night, you know. And you know, we took like little tins, like Vienna sausage cans and stuff, and you cut around and round and round them and pulled it and then it made a little spiral, and you painted it and hung it on the tree. My grandkids think thats just awful. We popped popcorn and we strung it and hung it on the tree. We bought green and red construction paper and made, I guessyou know, those
RW: Chains, thats it! Made chains and put that on the tree. Thats all we had. We didnt have Christmas decorations; it was unheard of in those days.
CB: So, how did you celebrate Christmas?
RW: See, German people, Santa Claus decorates the tree on Christmas Eve. You might set your tree there, but no decorations go on it, and Santa Claus does all that.
CB: Oh. And when do the presents come? When he comes?
RW: The night before.
CB: Okay, okay.
RW: And then when we moved out to 6 Mile Creek, to that big housewe had a big house there, just rented that grocery store and that house and two acres of land for $35 a month. We had made a garden and my dad got pigs, and we had a cow. We didnt realize we were poor. We had just a good time. My cousins, boy cousins, came down with us and so we got a baseball, you know, got to playing with the neighbor kids. They had a dog named Bum, and theres three boys and me. Well, play ball, you know. Well, Bum wanted us all together, so hed pull us by the seat of our pants and make us all four of us stand together. And Mama used to say, Ruth, how did you tear out the seat of pants all the time? I said, Mama, thats Bum. He pulled us all together.
Oh, we used to have someI feel sorry for the younger generation, they just dont have the memories and the good times that weyou know. Now, Halloween, we all got together and had a big bonfire, and like youd bring mustard and Id bring ketchup; someone else would bring hotdogs, somebody else bring buns. And wed get around this fire and have our party and tell ghost stories. Well, then nobody wanted to go home because everybody lived in different directions, and you couldnt say, Will you walk me home? Well, who would walk me back then?
I tell you, I could reminisce forever; its so wonderful, life. You know, material thingsI dont have a lot of them, but you cant take them with you.
CB: Thats right, thats right. Well, so which house do you have the most special memories about? And what are some of those memories?
RW: I guess the big house at the store, out there in 6 Mile Creek. Thats where my sister was born, and thats where I went a strawberry school to start with and then they changed it. A strawberry schoolwent to school not during strawberry season. November, December, and January I think was the three months.
So I went to Brandon School for second grade, second or third grade, and Dick Harris drove me. I think my dad paid him a dollar a week or something; a dollar a week was hard. I went to Brandon. Then Gillette School turned into a regular school, then I went to Gillette and I graduated from there; thats the eighth grade. In 1935, in thirty-six , I graduated from Benjamin Franklin, that was one year. Then I went to Brandon, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade. And then I graduated from there in 1940. And then I married in 1941 and moved to Sulphur Springs and had a whole new life.
CB: Ill bet. What was Sulphur Springs like when you first moved there?
RW: It was a lovelytoday I think the people today call them starter houses. Just a small community, everybody knew everybody. You never locked your doors; you walked back and forth to Sulphur Springs all the time. You never thought about badit was a lovely place to raise children.
CB: Well, tell me how Sulphur Springs was laid out at that time and where your house was in relation to everything.
RW: Okay, Waters AvenueI always called it the main part of Sulphur Springs, but the ones who lived over on River Cove, they called it the main part. But we lived on Waters and Eighteenth Street, and there was a railroad track there. And we moved, like I said, in December of forty-one .
CB: So how did you meet your husband?
RW: We worked at the shipyard. I went to work at the shipyard before the war, and Wilfred was working there and he belonged to the paperwhat do you call those people that did the bookwork? It had a funny name, paper-workers union or something like that, and my dad was the president of that union. I had quit working at the shipyard and I was working for a retired colonel over on Hyde Park Avenue. Well, I went to the union meeting just to get to see my dad; you know, you didnt have telephones and all that stuff back then. So I would go to the union meeting to see my dad, and Wilfred was a member of thatI guess it was paper-workers unionand we met there.
CB: Oh, for goodness sakes.
RW: And we dated till the spring of forty-one . And then I went on a trip by bus, I had a bus ticket to Davenport, Iowa to see my grandparents and across to New York to see my aunt and uncle and cousins. And when I got back here Wilfred had a ring, had me a ring, and we got married July 3 then.
CB: So, tell me about getting married?
CB: Tell me about getting marriedor tell me about getting married. Was it a church wedding or was it done in the home?
RW: Thats another story. E.E. Laney was my history teacher in Brandon and his wife was my first grade teacher in Ybor School, but they werent married then.
RW: So when wed go out to play, Mr. Laney would (inaudible) so he would come and park and he would play with us. Joni Murray was her name, and his was E.E. Laney. So they were dating and us kids, we didnt know what was going on, but he would be there everyday, as we would be playing. So then when I got into high school, Brandon High School and wanted to take American history, guess who my teacher was? E.E. Laney. I said, I cant believe this. So, then he was preaching at the Broadway Baptist Church. So when we were going to get married, I said, I want to get married at the Broadway Baptist Church with E.E. Laney. And he married us.
CB: How wonderful. Okay, so lets go back to Sulphur Springs and how it was laid out. Kind of give me an idea of what was where. Any stores you remember or anything in particular?
RW: They had a theater down where thattheres two streets that comes together in Sulphur Springs, and there was a theater there. And then we had the arcade across the street, and then over on this side was a lot of small businesses. Margaret Anns store was on the corner there of Bird [Street] and Nebraska [Avenue]. A lot of people on Saturday night would walk down to Sulphur Springs and the few people who drove their cars there would leave their doors open, and thats where we had fellowship. We visited with everybody on Saturday night.
CB: Oh, my goodness. Okay.
RW: The Berkums, and just all of the names there again. And then Margaret Ann moved up on the corner of Waters and Nebraska, and then it was called Winn-Dixieit was Winn-Dixie, then it had another nameno, they didnt. They were behind the arcade there, they moved on Bird Street; it was another grocery store that was up on the corner.
You know, the medicine man used to come around to Sulphur Springs. He had a big oak tree on the corner of Waters and Nebraska, and the medicine man would come there with his show, you know, on the back of his truck. Wed all go up there to see him.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: I had forgotten about that.
CB: So somebody said to me not long ago something aboutI thought the dog track was always right where it was, but somebody said no, it was one place and then when they rebuilt it, they rebuilt it somewhere else?
RW: Its always there.
CB: Oh, its been on that one spot?
RW: (murmurs in agreement)
CB: Okay, do you remember anything about the dog track?
RW: Im not a gambler, and my husband isnt either. But the night he was laid off from the shipyard he went to the dog track with some friends, you know, men he worked with. And he came and I said, What did you do? He said, I lost $17. I said, Wilfred! It was 1945 when a dollar was abut he just, he was laid off and he justfirst and only time he had done such a dumb stuff. Then hed come home and then he went to Gaylord Container Company and applied for a job there and he got it. He was making $1.41 an hour at the shipyard, and when he went to work at Gaylord Container Company he was making fifty cents an hour. So our lifestyle had to
RW: Shrink. And then I had used to work at the little stores. I worked at Red Scissors coupon downtown. I used to pick up odd jobs to help, you know.
RW: And then I ran a star route on Sunday for Ralph Calvin, who was real active there in Sulphur Springs; she was a schoolteacher. And I worked at the little stores, too, and that job with the star route got me into the post office. In 1963 David Malone lived acrossDavid Allen lived across the street and his sister needed a substitute carrier; they needed a part-time carrier. So they called me and I said, Yeah, Ill try anything once. Thats what saved me. I didnt make a lot of money the first year I was there because I just worked a little bit, but then it worked into a full-time job. I been on rural route A, and I worked for the post office for twenty-one and a half years.
RW: I met so many lovelyI had four routes: eight, nine, two and three. And I met lovely people on all of those routes.
CB: Oh, for goodness sakes. And you drove the mail truck? It was a rural route, you said.
RW: It was my own car. The rural carriers have to use their own car. We got paid so much a mile.
CB: Oh, my goodness. Okay, do you remember the train depot in Sulphur Springs?
RW: Oh, yes! Ive carried bushels of fruit up there and mailed them up north lots of times.
CB: Is that right?
RW: It was onits on Busch [Boulevard]. Ive lost myyeah, Busch; it was right on the corner there. I dont think that waswas that called Busch back then?
CB: Was that Temple Terrace Highway?
RW: Temple Terrace Highway, I think thats what it was.
CB: Because Ive heard other people talk about Temple Terrace Highway.
RW: There was Temple Terrace Highway and then it turned into Busch. Yeah, I used to send my grandmother and grandfather a bushel of fruit every year, and Id go there.
CB: Oh, wow. What do you remember about the trolley?
RW: Oh, gee, that was a lot of funa nickelyou could ride all the way to town, and if you gotyou know, was real friendly with the conductor and you turn the seats back for him, hell let you ride all the way back for nothing! (both laugh)
CB: Well, where did yousince everybody seemed to be coming to Sulphur Springs on the trolley, where did you go to since you were coming from Sulphur Springs? Where did you go downtown?
RW: We went to downtown, you know, to pay bills. You know, you rode the streetcar down. The first washing machine I ever had I bought at Allied Appliance on Tampa Street, and the payment was fifty cents a week. So every Saturday I rode the streetcar downtownit was a nickeland pay on the washing machine, and paid on this and paid on that, and paid this and paid that and got on the streetcar and came home, and thats what you did.
CB: Well you know, today people are paying their bill by computer, and of course I pay my bill by check. So you are telling me that people had to go in person to pay most of their bills?
RW: You didnt have a checking account. Heavens, no.
RW: No, not in those days! When my husband went to work at Gaylord he made $14.85 knowing that was (inaudible). When we got married at the shipyard he made $14.85 a week.
CB: And they handed it to him in cash?
RW: And then he got a raise up $21.78, and then we had a baby and bought a car. (both laugh) Money went a long ways back then.
CB: And everything was in cash?
RW: Oh, yeah.
CB: So was your child born at home?
RW: No, both of them were born in St. Joes. Joan wasDr. Constina delivered Joan in September of 1942. I stayed in the hospital a week and the doctorit cost $50 for the doctor and $50 for the hospital. Four years later Carol was born and I forgot what Dr. Constina charged, but the hospital was way out of sight like $85 or something.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: For five days.
CB: For five days, isnt that amazing. Okay, and somebody told me there were boats in that area. Did you ever ride the boats fromlets say from downtown to Sulphur Springs? Something about there were boats on that river.
RW: They were just family, you know, friendsif you had a boat youd go up and down. There was no way you could get on a boat and ride to town, no. And the boat ramp was in the park, Lowry Park; right there was the boat ramp. I think they had one in Sulphur Springs behind the tourist things back there, too.
CB: Tell me about the pool.
RW: That was the bottomless pool.
CB: Oh, really?
RW: Oh, yes, there was no bottom to it. Back before we moved thereand Im not going to tell you this for the truth, but everybody said it. Somebody out in North Tampa was a bootlegger, and they were about to catch him and he put a five-gallon thing of whiskey into the creek and it come up in Sulphur Springs pool. Now, I dont know that, but thats what was always said. So I dont know if thats true or not. But they had a big oak tree up there, and you used to get your bathing suit on and swing on the rope and swing out and jump in the pool, all in the pool. The streetcar barn, you know, where you sat and waited on was here, and the pool was right back there. Well, you justI mean that was the whole world right there, thatsand the show was across the street. What else did you need?
CB: At your age, was the pool more important to you or the arcade? Where did you do all your socializing?
RW: We socialized at church more. We went to the North Side Baptist Church and then it broke away to Trinity was closer to where we lived. My kids went to the pool and they went to the movies every Saturday, but I didnt. I mean, I was more homemaker.
CB: Right, what about the skating rink? Especially as a young person?
RW: My kids liked that too, yeah. I used to go to the skating rink before I was married, its Sweetheart skating rink out on Broadway. But after I got married and had children, I wasnt into skating and dancing and all that stuff. I was trying to help my husband and make a living and raise my kids.
CB: What did your husband do?
RW: He worked at Gaylord Container Company, thats a box factory down on Howard Avenue. He worked there for twenty-seven years and he retired in seventy-two . He died in ninety-four , so he was retired twenty-two years. Would you believe that June 1 of next year I will be retired twenty years?
CB: Isnt that amazing! Oh, thats wonderful. So how did youwhen you came back to Sulphur Springs in forty , as you said, times were hard? How did you mostly get around: by car, walk, trolley?
RW: We walked. We walked.
CB: Lots of walking in Sulphur Springs?
RW: Yes, yes. You know, Ill tell you, before television there was a man who had a show, just boxes in out in the lotright across from school on Thirteenth Street and wed walk up there, the girls and I. My husband always worked from three to eleven. So the girls and I, wed walk up there and sit on those orange crates and watch the movie.
CB: Is that right?
RW: I dont know who that was who sponsored that.
CB: It was like an outdoor movie?
RW: Yes, maam.
CB: Oh, was it free? Did you pay for it?
RW: Oh, yeah, it was just free. Just somebody there, I dont remember who.
CB: How fantastic. Okay, lets go back into, kind of, some of the home life. What was your favorite food growing up as a young person? Do you have special food memories when you first came to Sulphur Springs, or traditions in the family? Tell me about food.
RW: My favorite mealand my kids, toowas meatloaf and baked potato, and take the squash and cut them in two and put butter in them and bake them. But that was a meal, you know, meatloaf, baked potato and squash. But I dont know, I love food, all kinds of food. So I really dont have any. Now my mother, she used to take Spanish onions and boil them and shed take them aparttake each apart and then shed take hamburger, ground hamburgerbrowned hamburger in each one and pour tomato juice over the top and baked it. My kids today, they just love that.
CB: Isnt that something.
RW: Really, I never had any particularwell, when we lived there, I had to figure a dollar a day for meat for the family, and so Id always look forward to Margaret Ann sales when theyd have like three cans of Spam a dollar or three cans of corn beef at a dollar or something like that. And Randys store had fresh meat and she always got liver in on Thursday, so I always splurged and bought liver on Thursday, I could remember that.
CB: So tell me about eating during the Depression, what kind of things you ate?
RW: Well, I can remember I came home from school one day for lunch, and my sister was born then; she was a year or two old. I came home from school for lunch and my dad had boiled cabbage and a glass of water: that was my lunch. And I can remember going in and I said, Well, I dont like cabbage. I dont want that because I dont like cabbage. He says, When you get hungry enough youll eat it.
So I thought, Well, thats it, Im going to have this cabbage. I got to learn to eat it. Now I love it. I love steamed cabbage. (inaudible) lived next door to me there on Eighteenth Street, and we used to get a head of green cabbage and well slice it up and steam it, and she and I would sit up on the front steps eating green cabbage. We just loved it.
And then chicken backs, that was another thing. Down at Margaret Ann you could get large packets of chicken back and theres no much meat on them, not much. Wed barbecue, put barbecue sauce and wed cook them sit out on the front steps and eat chicken backs. And another thing was tomatoes. I used to go tomato picking sometimes and bring them back home, and Will and I would sit and eat tomatoes tillits funny how little things like that is such a pleasure to be together. And she and I are still friends.
CB: And that was going to be one of my questions. Do you have long-term acquaintances or friends that you still contact from Sulphur Springs?
RW: Oh, yes.
CB: And are these people from your childhood experiences there, or being a mother there? Where did you meet them, in other words?
RW: They bought the house next door to us in fifty-two . And she had two little boys and I had two little girls, and then she had another little boy; so she had three boys and I had two girls and they were raised up like brothers and sisters. Fought just like brothers and sisters. And we lived on a railroad track and Tommy, the oldest one, said something about me one time. I dont really remember what Joan said he said, but Joan drug him down to the railroad track and stuffed his mouth full of sand. We was reminiscing over that not long ago. I said, You know, wasnt that awful? I bet you he said something about her mother and she wasnt going to have it. She put sandTommy and Joan was reminiscing about that a while back. It seems so funny, little things that happen.
CB: So what, do you have other friends that you see at the reunion?
RW: Oh, yeah, Katie and Mary Wannamaker. And Susie and Bob, but I dont know what their last name is; shes a retired mail carrier, too. She was Mrs. Randys goddaughter. And the Hensel girlsgee, I saw themI went to their dentist; the dentist was married to one of the Hensel girls. And lets see, who else do I see? Howard Garrett, I saw him down there. And the Smiths used to live across the street from us and they all live up in Floral City now, but they come back. Betty, Betty Jean Smith said something to me at the reunion the other night; she said, Do you know, Mrs. Weaver, I thank you for the way I am about having a house: neat but lived in. And she said, I think of you so often. And I thought, wasnt that a compliment?
CB: Yes, it was.
RW: Sure a compliment, and she said, I think of you often. I said, Dont call me Mrs. Weaver, call me Ruth or Nana. Did you hear what they said? We have too much respect for you. I thoughtand the McFarlin boys are the same way. We go up to Pappas [Restaurant] together about once or twice a year, and I go out there and see them a lot, and its Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. Weaver. It makes me feel so old. Why dont you just say Nana or Ruth? They got too much respect for you, Mrs. Weaver.
CB: So tell me about theI know your experience with the school was with your children there, but tell me about the teachers at the school?
RW: Had a good group of teachers. My kids loved everyone. We used to work in the Halloween carnival, you know, and all, and the maypole and all of that. We had nice teachers.
CB: Well, tell me about the maypole, because its not a holiday that they seem to celebrate today.
RW: No, they dont.
CB: So tell us about that.
RW: Wasnt that May 1? Yeah, thats Carols birthday is May 1, so she was born on maypole day. You know they just had a pole out with ribbons on it, and you had to know what you were doing. The kids danced around the pole and when they got to the end of the ribbons there it was.
CB: Oh, for goodness sake.
RW: It was so pretty.
CB: And so talk about the Halloween carnival?
RW: Oh, that waswe built little booths out of wood, you know, and stuff. Wed have a fortuneteller and then appledunking for the apples. Wed have a hot dog booth. And then they had the parade of the costumes and whoever got the first prize and all. It was just like a big happy family. Sulphur Springs was so goodI mean, back in those days, I couldnt have raised my children anywhere else that they turn out as well as they did.
Joan is a nurse, shes been nursing I guess forty-something years; and Carol, shes married to a older man and they live up in Greensborough and theyre in the mercantile business and shes active with computers and all that stuff.
CB: Okay. Well, lets turn to probably not as quite as fond of memories, maybe so, and that is: tell me about experiencing the war during that time there in Sulphur Springs? The war, World War II
RW: You know, other than rationing and a few of our neighborstwo that I can remember went. The war seemed like it was in anotheryou know what I mean, it doesnt seem like it waswell, I have to tell you this. My husband was thirty-something years old and [President Franklin] Roosevelt upped the age. Well, Wilfred was too old then. So then they lowered the age and he got his draft notice, and we read it as eight pm. So he worked that day at the shipyard and came home, we went to where he was supposed to be at the First National Bank building, and when we got there at eight pm there was nobody there. I said, Wilfred, this doesnt make sense. He said, What are we going to do? I said, Well I dont know.
Well, he knew Charlie Wall that was the head of the draft board; his daddy had cleaned rugs for them and they knew him. So we went out to their house while he was having a party, so Wilfred wouldnt go in. He come back out and got into the car and we went home. Well, we stayed awake all night. We didnt sleep because we thought, What are they going to do with him? The next morning he went down to the draft board, and he walked in and he started to tell the lady his story, and she said, Oh, wait just a minute, Mr. Weaver. I have a deferment for you; I forgot to mail it. She handed him a deferment, he came home, got his lunchbox, and went back to work at the shipyard. Same guy was a good (inaudible).
CB: So was he supposed to been there at eight am?
RW: Eight am, and I read it eight pm. But see, like I tell people, thats the way its supposed to be.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
RW: But wasnt that an awful chance? And then he was never drafted, seeI mean, the war was over in forty-five  and Carol was born in forty-six  and he worked for Gaylords by then. But wasnt that strange, though?
CB: But it didnt really affect your home life, then, as far as
RW: No, no.
CB: I mean, other than the rationing?
RW: Well, I knew if he had to go away to the service I was going to have to go home because myI mean go home to Mamas withwe had the baby and all ,and I sure didnt want to be, and it just seemed like it was just in the cards that he didnt have to go. And we paid $25 a month on that house. But we spent a lot on it: we had siding put on it, we had the front porch glassed in.
CB: Now, describe that house for me.
CB: All right, so back to the house. It was crummy?
RW: It was just a little two bedroom and bath house, and Mr. Richardsonhe used to be the bigwig in Sulphur Springshe owned half of it. Well, he tore a house down and built this house out of that material. And the wood, the lumber, was so hard. You want to hang a picture up the wall, you hammer a nail, and the hammer would bounce and the nail wouldnt go. That was the best lumber in that little old house you ever saw.
CB: Now, you rented it?
RW: Yeah. No, no, no.
CB: You bought it?
RW: Yeah, $250 down and $25 a month. And there was no garbage service then and we just dug a hole out in the backyard and buried it and filled it up and when that got full you dig another one and buried it, yeah.
CB: My goodness. And so what other utilities, did you have any?
RW: Tampa Electric; that bill would usually run five dollars and a half a month. Well, the water, I dont rememberall I can tell you is I could take a $20 bill down to Whiteheads Drug Store and pay all the utilities and have enough left for a piece of coconut cream pie and a cup of coffee. And this was Depression glass: you bought so many gallons of gas, you could get something or whatever. And right nowoh, Ive been offered $35 for this a lot of times. I said, No!
CB: Oh, for goodness sake.
RW: I just have two, and one belongs to one daughter, one belongs to the other one. And thats what they call this, Depression glass.
CB: Thats a cake plate. I have one like that my grandmother gave me, just identical to it. Its rose-colored andisnt that pretty.
RW: Well, I got mine for Super (inaudible) gas, and I dont know where you get them.
CB: Oh, heavens, thats amazing. Okay, so tell me: you were a full-time mommy and you worked a lot, but were you involved in any clubs or organizations there in Sulphur Springs?
CB: Most of your work was with the church?
RW: The church and school. I worked in the PTA, and then I was the person that had to put the notice in the paper; they had a title but I cant remember. Im surprised Im remembering as much as I am, because my memory, its gettingit fades!
CB: Thats because you have so much importantso many important things in it, right?
RW: I guess so.
CB: So did you have any hobbies? Or did you have hobbies that time?
RW: I used to sew. I made all my mothers and sisters clothes. My mother was very large, and she had a dropped shoulder and she couldnt ever buy any clothes, and my sister never had a store-bought dress until she went to Hillsborough High School.
CB: Is that right?
RW: I made all of their clothes. I used to love to sew, but see, I cant see that well now to thread a needle. And I justI like my patio and then I like to travel, which I had enough money I could travel all the time. Ive driven up Greensboro, North Carolina four times already.
CB: Is that right? Oh, my goodness. So, as a child, did you have any chores when you were growing up that were specifically yours?
RW: Oh, yes, I had the cows to feedand see, we had this little store here, but theres big pasture land around us. And my daddyour cow, calves would go out in that pasture, and then I had to chase them in, you know, to feed them and all. And Mama used to put her face right up in there and shed, Oh, you smell so good, you smell so fresh. I used to couldnt hardly wait till I got the cows in to where my mother would put her face up there and say You smell so good. Its funny what little things mean so much.
CB: So did you as a result did you give your children chores? Did they get chores growing up?
RW: Yes, yes, yes, yes, maam. My kids will tell you that so much was their responsibility. And now, my oldest daughter was a good cook. I worked at Red Scissors Coupon Store, and I would ride the bus home at night. She was about fourteen, fourteen or fifteen, and I could walk in the door and dinner was ready to put on the table. Now, my youngest daughter cared nothing about cooking, nothing about yard work; now shes the best cook and got a beautiful yard, so I dont know.
CB: So whats the biggest change you remember in Sulphur Springs as a young person, and then Im going to ask you the same as an adult. As a young person, what was the biggest change you can remember in Sulphur Springs?
RW: See, like I tell you life was soit just rocked along. I dont know of any big change other than dividing Sulphur Springs: part had to go to King [High School] and part had to Chamberlin [High School]. Which that was a big deal back then, but really it was just ait was just different. I was just happy there. I hated to have to move, but after I moved and I saw how bad it went downhill, I was glad I was out of it.
CB: Right, right. So did you have a family doctor? And was that family doctor in Sulphur Springs?
RW: No, my childrens doctor was Dr. Martin and he was over in Grand Central [Avenue]; its Kennedy [Boulevard] now, but Grand Central back then. And I dont know if I even went to a doctor.
CB: And thats where I was going is did you
RW: Oh, Dr. Laferty over here on Busch Boulevard. My kids were little and I had been sick, coughing and everything. My dad called me up one day and he said, You sound terrible. I said, Oh, Im all right. Well, him and Mama thought about it, and so he came and got me and took me to Dr. Lafertys office. The kids were kind of big by then, like six and ten or something. And Dr. Laferty said, Youve got walking pneumonia. Im going to put you in the hospital. I said, No, you cant put me in the hospital. Ive got two little kids at home, my husband works at night. I cannot go to the hospital. I dont have any fever. And you know what he said? He said, Theres people die every day without fever. I thoughtwell, so then he made me promise him Id go home and lay on the couch and really have bed rest and watch the girls, you know, take care of them and all that stuff, so I did.
CB: So, thats where Im going with this. You didnt have a need for much medical care. What did you do to keep yourself so healthy?
RW: Just eat good food, I guess, and [be] real active, you knowso many.
CB: Did you drink the sulfur water?
RW: Yeah, I guess we did. I mean the wateryou know I cant remember if we hadI dont think we had a pump, they must have had water piped in up there then, because I dont remember having a pump.
CB: Okay, what do you remember about the tourist club?
RW: See, I didnt go there. I really cant comment on the tourist club. Talking about water and stuff, my neighbor back of me, Mrs. Scott, shelets see now, theres something about our wash water going out in the alley. Their street got sewer way before we did. So then, when I let my wash water run out in the alley, the health department came and said, Well you cant do that, and I said, Well, why cant I? Ive been doing it for years? And he said, Well, the germs something about the germs in the water or something. And I said, Well, that ridiculous Mrs. Scott let her water run out of here till just a few months ago, and our germs were together. Oh, I was justmy husband was so mad at me. He said I had to hook up to the sewage with my wash water and I said, Well, Im not going to.
So he come by and hed leave a tag on the door, you know, bring the tag or something. And Wilfred would say, Ruth, weve got to hook up to the sewage. I said, We dont have to hook up to the sewage. They got to prove to me that my germs are different than other peoples germs, and Im not going to do it. Well, we sold our house, and I never did hook up to thethe lady across the street was Mrs. Willis. She come over one day and shed say, You are stubborn, arent ya? And I said, Yes, maam, Im German. Im as stubborn as they come. But if they could prove to me that my germs aretheyve been going out there for twenty years. So anyways, that was the end of that story. We sold and moved and I still didnt touch it. I was a bad girl, I guess.
CB: I think you were a lively girl. So what adults do you remember from your childhood that you think shaped who you are?
RW: Omar C. Mitchell, the principal of Gillette School, is one person who really had a lot ofwhatever you want to call it. I justhe made me feel proud of myself. You know, if you take these young people today, theyve got to have parents or friends or somebody make them feeldont make them feel like theyre just here, and they dont know what to do.
And Mr. Mitchell, he called me his little secretary. I used to fill out all the report cards and everything, and I was only in the seventh or eighth grade. But, I mean, he made me feel important. And my dad used to say, Youre my little secretary. You know, dads today dont do that. It gives you an inner peace when you know that you can do whatever you want to do. If you set your goal, you can do it. Theres only one thing that I havent mastered, and that is I stutter. And it bothers me. I feel very self conscious about it, so Ive never been able to get up in front of a group and talk.
CB: And I havent heard you stutter once! (both laugh)
RW: Well, sometimes Im real bad.
CB: Youre doing pretty good, if you ask me. So what about the tourist camps? Did you remember anything about thesomebody said they brought the tin can tours?
RW: Oh, tin can tourists, yeah! Well you know what tin can tourists meant? It meant that you come down in those Model-T Fords, you know, and made out a tent and you camped on the side of the road, and that was just a name that they adopted.
A tin can tourist, I dont think the Southern people appreciated them as much as they should have then, because they brought other ideas to here. I mean, better wages, and you knowI know when my dadwhen we came down from Iowa in SeptemberI got to tell you this story. Its got nothing to do with Sulphur Springs. We had this car and we were riding along, and we got into Kentucky and there was a big tree across the road. See, there was no paved roads then; there was just clay wet roads. And this big tree was across the road. And my dad, he used bad words, and so these two men came out with guns on their shoulders and spitting tobacco. And my dad says, Will you move the tree? And he said, Five dollars. Give me five dollars and well move the tree. So they moved the tree and we went through, and they put the tree back. See, that was their way of getting money from tourists.
So we went down the road and we got down into Georgia and we went down a thing like this, and across there was a creek and then it went back up like that. So when we got down there, we get on this raft, you know, with the thing on the back, and we got the car on there and the man said, That will be five dollars. And my dad didnt have five dollars, he had twenty was the smallest he had. So he gave it to the man and my dad started fussing to Mama, he said, I bet Ill never see my change again. And Mama said, Now, Fred, you just wait. Now wait till we get over there and you said wait and see. So we paddled over there and it started up the hill, and the man came out of the woods with the ten and the five and gave it to him.
And so we went on then and we stayed insomewhere in Georgia, Forsyth, Georgia. And the garage was full of cars, so my dad had to park our car out on the street. It was a Saturday night, so the guy at the desk promised that they would watch out for it. And we went in, you know, in to bed. The next morning, we got up; we were having breakfast in the restaurant down the stairs. And Daddy looked out the window and our car was sitting right there and the little fly window was busted. Well, my dad got up and went out on the street, Sunday morning in Forsyth, Georgiaa very religious little town, very quiet back then. And my dad got up and cussing and swearing and all this stuff about the window being broke and they were supposed to watch the car and blah, blah, blah. And the police came up and said, Mister, if you dont shut your mouth, we are going to put you in jail. So I cant remember now how they got it fixed, that part of the story I dont remember. But I came back into the restaurant and sat down and finished his breakfast and all. And I know we didnt leave right away because they fixed the window or something.
Then whenever wed go back to Iowa, Mom would say, Fred, dont go through Forsyth, Georgia. That was all on that eleven-day trip. Kentucky they got us for five dollars with the tree across the road. Down in Georgia we had to acrossthat was another five dollars. It was some experience, but I can remember when we got to the arcade in Sulphur Springs just like it was yesterday. I can remember that justI was four in March and we came in September. I would have been five the next March.
CB: And that was what year? Nineteen
RW: Twenty-five . I was born March 20, 1921.
CB: So how did you feel when they tore the arcade down?
RW: It just broke my heart, it really did. I just thought that should have been a historical thing, I think. Maves Five and Dime was there for years, and then we had aa Jewish boy had a clothing store in there. And then Sanderss Drug Store, and Whiteheads Drug Store. I remember walking down to Whiteheads Drug Store and it was justit was family. You know, Mrs. Whitehead took your lights and water, phone and whatever bills you had, and then over hereyou know, the girl that worked behind that lunch counter is working at Krispy Kreme, Tiny. Im telling you, shes eighty-four, I think, or eighty-five years old. And shes working at Krispy Kreme on Florida and Waters.
CB: Youre kidding?
RW: I was in there the other day and shes still in there, shes still working. They dont let her take money or anything, but she keeps the things filled. I think she works just part-time. Her name is Tiny. I wish you could go by there and see if shes still working there. Tiny, and she was the girl at Whiteheads Drug Store, she made all the salads and everything. And wed go down there and get a lunch plate and have four different kinds of salad on a cracker.
CB: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Have you ever heard of Jim Walters Homes?
RW: Oh, gosh, yes.
CB: Did you know Jim Walters?
RW: Yes, I did; the people across the street were friends of his. In fact, Julia Reedy worked with Jim when he had a used car lot over on Florida Avenue. Yeah, Jim Walters was over there to their house one day, drinking coffee; you know, he could show you (inaudible). He never carried any money. He couldnt invite you to a cup of coffee in the drugstore because he never had any money. He never carried any money. I used to laugh at him, I said, Well, thats one way of keeping it, if you dont spend it.
CB: And other one that several people have mentioned is Billy Graham, that they saw Billy Graham a lot.
RW: Now, let me tell you, my husband in 19let me see, let me tell this straight. My husband and Billy Graham went to this Christian school, Temple Terrace Bible School,
The Florida Bible Institute, now Trinity College, was located in Temple Terrace at the current site of Florida College. Trinity College has since moved to New Port Richey.
together. And Billy Graham would go to the Tampadown to the Hillsborough River where those cypress knees are, and thats where he practiced preaching. And my husband would be with him. And then at that time Billy had a streetwhat do you call, streetstreet church, I guess, or whatever you wanted to call it. He would preach down on Franklin Street, and Wilfred would lead the singing. And then they had a program on the television over onthe first station that we had here was over in Pinellas County, it was Channel 36 or some number like that, and Wilfred used to sing and Billy would preach.
CB: Is that right? Oh, my goodness. So tell me more about your church activities. Obviously somebody was a singer?
RW: My husband was a singer, not me. I cant carry a tune in a bucket with four handles. Now, Joan, the oldest girl, she can sing; and the youngest girl, shes fifty-seven now, and shesshe was just telling me on the phone a while ago that shes going to Atlanta for four days for a music seminar.
CB: Wow. Oh, wow! Okay, I want to visit one more time the idea of health routines. Were there any particular health routines you did, either as a child or as a mother for your children? You know, why do you think everybody was so much healthier then?
RW: Dont you think its a lot of insecticides and stuff they put on fruits and vegetables today? We never were sick, we just werent sick. Now, one time, we all four had the stomach flu. That was reallythat was a trip! We all four was in the bathroom over the tub, up-chucking ouroh, we all were so sick, but you know a day or two and we got well. Now, my oldest daughter had scarlet fever when Carol was a baby, so I sent Carol out to Mamas and we were quarantined. My husband could come in and out the back door to go to work, but Joan and I wasI couldnt pay any bills. We couldnt put any milkback in those days, you got milk from a truck and you put the empty bottles out. Well, I couldnt give him any bottles back. He could leave me milk every day, but I couldnt.
CB: So what did you do with all those bottles?
RW: I just kept them until we was out of quarantine. And I want you to know they came around, too, boy, and checked.
CB: Is that right?
RW: Yeah, she was a lady at the time, kind of an elderly lady; I dont remember her name. And shed come and shed put the sign onQuarantined, out on the front door. And nobody could come in, nobody could go out. Wilfred could come in the back door and come out, but I could pay no money because money is the carrier of germs. Back then, thats what they said, so I couldnt pay anything. And the vegetable man would come by and I would holler out the window, Leave me some of this, whatever I wanted, you know, and then I would just write it down and Ill pay you whenever I can.
CB: Oh, for goodness sakes.
RW: Thats when Joan had scarlet fever.
CB: Well, I know someone told me about taking, what, malaria shots when the dam broke. But I hadnt heard about the other quarantines. And the dam broke in thirty-five , so you wouldnt have been there.
The Tampa Electric Companys dam actually broke in 1933, after heavy rain from a hurricane. It was located between present-day Fortieth and Fifty-sixth Streets in the Temple Crest neighborhood.
RW: No, I wasnt there.
CB: But I hadnt heard about the quarantining, you know, being quarantined or anything like that.
RW: Yeah, I was quarantined, and we never did find out where Joan even got it from. I mean, it was nobody in school or nobody in the neighborhood.
CB: So it didnt run through the town? It just happened to be you.
RW: No, no.
CB: Amazing. In years to come, when your great grandchildren are rummaging through the tapes and want to hear this, what do you want them to know about Sulphur Springs or your time living there?
RW: Well, I would like for them to know that, that was a very happy place, happy place to raise your family. There was no strife and noeverybody loved each other, and it was just a different world than what they know. The school activities and the churchI mean, the church was the main part of our life because we could walk there. And every fifth Monday of the monththeres four months in the year thats got a fifth Monday, and thats the Monday that we had dinner on the grounds, and wed all carry stuff. Nick Nuccio
Nick Nuccio also served two terms as mayor of Tampa, from 1956 to 1959 and 1963 to 1967.
, who was the county commissioner back then, he built us concrete tables on the side of the church with benches, and we had a little building with a sink and storage in it. And you looked forward to thoseyou know, to me a birthday and Christmas back then was a big occasion; you looked forward to it. But now they get something every day, birthday doesnt mean anything, Christmas doesnt seem to.
I mean, I justI feel sorry for them that they dont have the memories of thesee, my sister is a person that doesnt have any memories, either. Shell listen to me talking and shell say, Ruth, I dont remember all that. Its so strange. I can remember my mother said to me many, many, many years ago, she said, Ruth, let me tell you one thing: People can take away your home, they can take away your car, they can take away everything you got, but they cant take your memories. Youve got them, and nobody can take them away from you.
CB: Thats wonderful. So, is that church still standing today?
RW: Trinity, yes, maam. But its got eleven or twelve is all thats there now. Joan went one night here a few months back and she said, Mama, its you know, you kind of want to step back to where you used to go, or where you used toyou know how that is. She said, Mama, its real sad.
CB: What about the houses youve lived in, are they all still there? Are any of them still there?
RW: The one that we lived in on Eighteenth Street is still there. I go by it every once in a while, and it looks like a toy. It looks so little, you know. But we had some good times there, real good times.
CB: Well, what have I not touched on that you would like to comment on? Youve had wonderful stories before we started this tape recorder, so
RW: I cant remember what I was telling. Oh, the robbery at the store was one.
CB: Right, yeah.
RW: That was Rikers Store. That was aI worked in that store during three owners. When this one sold it I went with it, this one sold it I went with it, this one sold itI had gone to work at the post office. But that night was a real funny experience. It was ten minutes to six and I was getting off of work at six oclock, and I looked out at the front window of the store and this man walked across. His face was white and I thought, Well I bet he wants 666 or something. I thought he had the flu or something. And he came in and looked at me, took his hat off for the lady at the end of the bread rack, pulled a stocking out of his pocket and put it over his face and put his hat back on.
And I thoughtand he said, This is a stickup. He said, I want your money out of the cash register. Well, like I said, I punched every key in the book and nothing would makefinally, I thought, Now, Ruth, just calm down; you know how to get this cash register. I opened it up and it was $135.05. Well, Mrs. Riker was over in the corner and she knew what was going on, so she run out the front door and he took the gun that he had on me and told me to go to the back. He hit her on the back of the head and I went to the back.
And Detective Mills was the one that came outthats another ironic story. He came out and he said, You look like you wet your pants. I said, No, sir, thats sweat; just look at the water running down here. He said, Boy you must have been scared. And so then, that Detective MillsI had befriended a schoolteacher of Joans. Her and her husband were having problems. She had adopted this little boy, and I said, Well, you just come stay with us and well see if we can help ya. Well, she lost him, the child: welfare, whatever they had back then, came and got him and took him away. And guess who adopted him? That Detective Mills, he hadwhat did we call that little boy? Ill have to ask Joan; Joan might remember.
But she lived with us about six or seven months. I was trying to help her to be able to adopt because she wanted children, but her and her husbandher husband was a manic-depressive, what we know of today. But we didnt know what was wrong with him back then. So anyway, she divorced her husband and she lostWilfred just worshiped that kid. He was a little boy, he was real cute. Well, the child services came and got him, and I had all his clothes ready to go and everything. And later on she told me that Detective Mills adopted him. And when I was robbed at the store
CB: Isnt that amazing? Well, all right then, what would you want people to remember about you or your life? What would you like be made public knowledge about you or your life? Or what would you want them to remember about you?
RW: Just remember that I was hard working. I loved to work. Ive got German in me and we just dont give up, you just keep going. I would like to remember that I was a good mother and a good wife and I just liked to work. Ill tell you what, I went to Trinity Baptist Church one night after bible school, and then you have graduation. And so I went one night down there, and this lady came up to me and she says, Mrs. Weaver, I have so much respect for you. I thought, What have I done to warrant all this respect? She said, Raising those two children right, by yourself.
I said, Maam, I have a husband, but he works at night, three to eleven. So nobody ever sees him. I said, Well maybe thats a compliment. At least it lets my husband know that Im not running around on him, because you thought I had respect raising these two girls all by myself. I said, No, I have a husband. She said, Well we neverhe never I said, He works. And back in those days at Gaylord Container was during the citrus season he worked three to eleven seven days a week during the orange and grapefruit season, you know, from June till about February or March, and he just worked. But it was funny how she said that, I have so much respect for you. I thought, What have I done?
Ive just enjoyed life. I love people and I just enjoy life. Im just happy with time. I love to travel, but thats kind of expensive, so I go up to Greensboro, North Carolina. In fact, Im leaving the fourth of December; this time Im flying, and I wont be back until the eighth of January. See, I have two girls, one daughter I have Thanksgiving with this year and Christmas this year. The next year I have Thanksgiving with this one and Christmas with that one.
CB: So you are still a very close family?
RW: Oh, yes, maam. Yeah, yeah. In fact, that was Joan just now. Theyre working on her telephone system. She moved up to Hernando County and its a Sprint system, and she got a new modular home. Well, they have to come and put poles in and everything and she said that they were there. But they told her that she still wouldnt have a phone when they leave because theres something else thats got to be done.
CB: Well, I have really enjoyed this. I greatly appreciate it, and I know that people that get to listen to this in the future are going to really be glad you gave me these few minutes.
RW: Ive enjoyed it. I mean, probably when you leave Ill think of a dozen other things I should haveI should have told her this, I should have told her that.
CB: Well, you keep notes and Ill come back.
RW: Mrs. Randy, who had the Randy store. She always got fresh liver on Thursday; you know, we looked forward to Thursdays because we were having liver. Isnt that funny how something like that is in your memory? You just do.
CB: I bet you remember what that liver tasted like, too?
RW: Yes: delicious, Im telling you.
CB: All right. Thank you very much.
RW: Oh, youre mighty welcome. Oh, we went up to (inaudible), New York to visit my cousin, and up in this little town, instead of parking against the curb they nose in, you know. Well, he was backing out and this car came around the corner and blew his horn, blew his horn. I wound the window down, I said, What else did you get for Christmas? And my cousin said, Where did you get that from? I said, I dont know. What else did he get for Christmas each year when hes using that horn? He said, Ruth, I wish youd write all these things out. Old Charlie Weaver, the old man on thehe say, You come up with some things. I said, You know what, Dick, if you gave me a piece of paper and pencil, I couldnt think of one of them. Its just things thatwhat was oneCarol used one the other day and she said, Mama, Granddaddy used to use this saying, and I thought, Yes, he did. Its funny how things stick with you. But Im getting old now, and my memorys failing me.
CB: I dont think so. (both laugh)
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 20 1 0 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.