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(Interview taped 1/24/1979)
I have lived in Teaneck since 1938. I came here from Jersey City and have lived in this same house all the time. Oh my no, I didn't come as a bride! Nancy was born in 1944 in Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City.
Yes, I was recently cited as Woman of the Year by the Bergen-Passaic Unit for Retarded Citizens. I have worked with them for about 10 years. I was cited for my work as secretary of the canteen run by the organization. We have 23 sponsors--Rotary clubs, UNICOS--not just in Bergen County--and by Woman's Clubs. Our Juniors and EMD are among the sponsors. I have been doing canteen work for six years.
Yes, I worked with the Cerebral Palsy Center in Ridgewood since 1952. Nancy is 34, so that's about 23 years--she must have been 10 or 11 when I started. That center was started a year or two before.
A doctor from Baltimore examined Nancy at the A. Harry Moore School and found that she had Cerebral Palsy. She had ataxia and was mildly spastic. For a while she went to public school. That didn't work out. Then she got education at home. Then they started the cerebral palsy unit.
The Red Cross and several people who were interested in Nancy drove her to Ridgewood. Red Cross workers were Helen France and Rose Cook, if it hadn't been for them Nancy would never have known how to talk, close a safety pin or do a lot of things. Helen Frances was wonderful, she is a former president of the Woman's Club of Teaneck. Those drivers not only take the patients to the center, they wait hours and bring them home. Special education classes were started at 799 Main St., Hackensack. They stated the Cerebral Palsy League--like a PTA. The Allendail Horse shows were benefits and we got money through buying things at Lewall's. Nancy has been going to the Craft Unit 12 years. She is legally blind and deaf but she can do beautiful tile work. Made a table that sold for $50. She learned to sew and make pillows. She goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I joined the Woman's Club of Teaneck 39 years ago. Mea Hecking was on our street collecting for the Red Cross. I asked her to come in and have a glass of iced tea. She adked me to join. We used to meet in St. Mark's Church. In 1947, we moved to Massachussetts, but came back after a year and a half. We didn't sell our house. I was a caller for the club at first. I was a captain for 10 or 12 years. Now I'm reservations chairman. No, our club was no small when I joined, we had over 400 members. The lists then were hit or miss -- but no my lists.
Yes, belonging to the club was a pleasure, meeting the other women and I felt I was doing something useful. It isn't such a big job--other people have jobs that are bigger than mine, but the calling is important, getting the reservations is the spine of the club.l
M.T.: You have such a fine spirit and you've had enough to get you down.
Ruth: It's been tough at times.
M.T.: When you brought the baby home you Inust have felt let down.
Ruth: No. I didn't know it. I was too stupid. I didn't know anything about children. I had never been around babies and we didn't know people with older children. In the first year I noticed she wasn't drinking. I called a doctor in town. He said I wasn't feeding her right. I said, 'Here, you take the bottle.' He said something was wrong and she might outgrow it. I took her to the doctor who delivered her. He said I haven't told you before, but eventually you will be carrying her around on a pillow. He gave me a note to the Neurological Center at Columbia Presbyterian. They didn't know about Cerebral Palsy. No one did. We took her home and worked with her. Later Dr. Winfred Phelps came up from Baltimore. He tested her.
I'm not a Catholic, but my mother and father went to Canada and went to St. Anne de Peau Pres.I don't usually talk about this, but after they came back I went and made a Novena. Nancy's hands came together and they had never done that before. Later I made another novena and she spoke her first 7 to 10 words. After a third novena a man was visiting us. Nancy had never walked, she just twisted around, hanging on to things. The man said go to Daddy. She walked clear across the room. That had never happened before. Jack had a recorder. He played tapes and she danced--he got her in motion. These are things done through prayer. She got rhythm to square dance.
M.T.: How many days a week do you devote to your activities?
Ruth: Well, I'll tell you. I'm now chairman of Teaneck for the fund drive starts next week. I have to map territory and get people. Put the cans in all the stores. I'll see those cans get back, Last year they took people from our craft unit. Now they have only one in Teaneck.
How many callers? We have 32. I have a co-chairman who gets results from L to Z. I take the others. I have to check. We get people to play with others. Get calls all day long and from 9 to 11 at night. They need partner. I have the final list. Its a lot of book keeping. That's my red book. I don't take the money. I get the reservations. We have to get the money in plenty of time. I check those who are going if money isn't in, I check with Alice. I call people and say you haven't sent your check. It isn't really my job. If they're efficient like Alice I help, if they're not efficient I don't help.
Gave a party for Cerebral Palsy craft unit. 45 people. I don't mind, Nancy gets pleasure out of it They need volunteers. Everyone needs volunteers. How would the work get done?
Special ed was at the high school. For retarded and handicapped. Now they don't have it. They pay tuition and send them out. She's been 2 schools in Englewood, then high school, then Hackensack. We paid for it. Roche stopped education for Nan at home. She went to Englewood school, finished that, went to another one.
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