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My Grandma Ruby

Ruby Benson


Danielle Langehaug


6th Grade 1997, Tri-County School, Karlstad,MN


2nd Place

Kittson County Historical Society Essay Contest


Ruby Benson was born in 1932 during the Great Depression.

Her first memories were living in a log house built byher grandfather. There was no electricity, no telephone, no running waterand no sewer. Rain water was caught in barrels and used for washing clothesand for bathing. In the winter, ice blocks were cut at the river, takenin the house and melted for washing. Rain water and ice water are softerthan water softeners we use today.

Ruby walked two miles to a little one room country schooland two miles home again. The school had no electricity and no runningwater. They had to take turns carrying wood for the furnace and water todrink. The school had a bell tower to ring when school started and at theend of recess. All the classes were held in one room.

School supplies were simple: a tablet, a pencil, crayons,16 at the most, and a simple school bag. By about the 5th grade, they wereallowed a fountain pen in their desks.

During the day, Ruby would listen to the first grade classes,and then when she got home from school she would play school with her littlesister, Ruth, who was seven years younger than her. Because of Ruby's help,Ruth was able to read her Dick and Jane book when she started school.

After school, there were always chores to be done, suchas, carry in the wood, feed the calves, and bring the cows in from the pasturefor milking. Ruby also learned how to milk cows at an early age.

In the summer, Ruby helped haul hay. Ruby's family alwayshad a large garden and canned their own vegetables in the fall. They alsopicked wild berries for jam and jelly. The meat was all butchered at homeand canned or cured in the smoke house. In the winter they would freezethe meat outdoors. Ruby learned how to make bread when she was nine yearsold. All the baking was done at home.

Most of their toys were home made, and they also made upmost of their own games. Some of the games they played were: kick the can,pump-pump pull away, and knock down the sticks. Ruby also spent a lot oftime in the woods. Her extra activity was being in 4-H.

Fair time was a big and busy time of the year. Ruby couldalways remember the old grandstand being pretty swell. Their records andentries had to be done by the first day of the fair. Her parents wouldraise chickens and butcher them and also would bring them to the restaurantduring the same time of the year.

In the winter time, if it was really cold, they would goto school by horse and sleigh with heated bricks at the bottom to keep theirfeet warm. By the early 1940's, they had buses to go to school in. Then,by 1945, life became easier with rural electricity.

During the war years, they learned how to cook with syrupand honey because sugar was rationed, as was meat, gasoline, tires, coffeeand butter.

They didn't know anything about gangs or drugs.

There were no sports for girls outside of gym class.

Ruby was married during 1950 and during those days thewomen stayed home with the children.

By the early 60's, Ruby started to do work outside thehome and held a steady job till 63, working for the local newspaper.

Ruby is now retired and, in her spare time, she and herhusband, Ray, will make and sell baskets and benches. Ruby and Ray livein Jupiter Township about seven miles out of Lake Bronson. During the winter,Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Ray (who she married after her first husband, JohnJahola died) will watch the cows for my dad when he is busy. They enjoydoing a lot of extra things when they aren't busy with their baskets.


I got my information from Ruby Benson


I got my information from Ruby Benson