Ruth Frazier Roberts

 

I’m Ruth Frazier Roberts and I was born in Rockland, Maine. I lived in Rockland until I was about three but I lost my mother when I was about fourteen months old. I have a half sister who took care of me until I got up into grammar school. We bought a farm at the foot of Mt. Pleasant and my father remarried. She had three children and my father had me and between them, they had one. My father used to say “my kids and your lads are killing my kids. ” I was born in 1912, August the 12th 1912. Old lady, huh? They separated and when they did my father took a hay rack and a pair of horses and myself and whatever we had for belongings and we went into the woods in Appleton, Maine and we lived there that winter and we lived in a tent. I don’t remember it being cold, all we had was an oil stove for heat and we ate at the lodge where the woodsmen did. I would go down and take my father’s lunchpail and she would put stuff in the pail enough for my father and I and I’d go up and sit on a log. My father would come down and meet me and we would have our lunch there. I was the only kid there because my father had left my stepmother and the other kids. He was so lucky to have me! We left there and went to Waterville to my grandmother’s house on Boutelle Avenue but my grandmother was dying of tuberculosis and the state stepped in and told my father that he couldn’t keep me there because of the tuberculosis. He went out and he had a friend, Charlie Vigue, from the First National Savings Bank of Waterville and he hired a farm, from him. He and I went out there to live. He put an ad in the paper and he got a housekeeper and they got married. The farm was out on Gilman street across from Pray’s field where the circus was across from there. I was an awful busy girl when the circus was there! We lived there for two or three years and in the meantime, my father married his housekeeper. Them days they did marry housekeepers. They didn’t have any children or anything. Then one day, my father bought a farm on the Augusta road and we had quite a few cattle. My stepbrother and I used to milk I milked maybe eight or ten in the morning and he had to milk the same amount before we, went to school. I bet we smelled just like old cows when we went to school! I never remember changing my clothes or washing up! I was going to school, North Street school was the name of it. I used to have to drive milk and then walk to school. After we got to school there, I would fall asleep sometimes and the teacher would never wake me up. After awhile, daddy had a milk route, I took the north end and my stepbrother took the south end. We’d meet out on Drummond Avenue and tie my horse behind his wagon because my horse would see a bag in the field and he’d start right off after it. Then we would have to go to school after that and I’d be late about every morning and I got so when I walked in the door I used to hold my hand out because I knew Miss Lodge was going to give me a strapping. I finally told my father and he went down and he saw her and he said this girl isn’t playing. This girl gets up at three o’clock in the morning, she gets ready, she delivers the milk and then she comes to school. She hitches her horse behind the other and after that she never bothered me, Miss Lodge. But I went through that door and I’d hold my hand out I know I was gonna got it!

 

 

My father was one we had chickens and cream and cottage cheese and you name it we had it to deliver. Course it’s time taking to deliver an that stuff. And course you’d have to talk to your customers sometimes. Then we’d go back to the old senior high school on Gilman Street and we’d tie the horses to each other, my horse on the back of my stepbrothers team and we’d send them home. They’d go home and they’d go into the yard and my father would look out and they’d be standing there waiting for him. You wouldn’t be able to do that now with all of these cars and everything!

 

Then my father bought the farm on the Augusta road and we had these cows from Gilman Street and about two o’clock one morning, my father got us all up and we took the cows and herded them down Main street in Waterville, probably about fifteen cows or so and some young stock. The young stock we didn’t worry about because they wouldn’t leave their mother. We went down to the Augusta road and it was about six miles down there. We got all done and nobody could understand how we did it. We didn’t have a car bother us at all. We got down there, herded them into the farm so after that there was nobody to take care of the cows down there so I used to every morning saddle my horse up and I used to ride down there, milk the cows and put the milk out. Then my father would come down with a panel side truck and pick it up.

 

That’s how I met my girlfriend, that Ruth Robinson, that’s so friendly, you know. Twelve years we went to school together. Never had an argument, that’s a record! She lived about half way and they had a little store. When I used to fide down horseback, big deal you know, I had to get off and buy some candy or something in the store. She got so she’d take her bicycle and ride down and keep me company. Then after my father got the milk then we’d put the cows to pasture but we had to walk back to Ruth Robinson’s house, it’s about a mile from the farm, we’d herd them up there and put them in the pasture. You know, it didn’t bother me too much doing that stuff. She’s one of the ones that was in that homestead and she’s telling me on the phone she says she should have stayed in Maine. Oh yes, we’ve been friends for years and years.

 

I grew up on the farm until I was about seventeen and when I was about seventeen I had been out with several different boys. This one boy used to walk down by my house and my girlfriend, Margaret Haskell, and I, we used to make tracks right behind him. We used to have more fun making fun of him and tee‑heeing you know like teenagers do but he wouldn’t pay any attention to us at all. Then one day I was out in the hammock and this man drove up with this funny looking car and he had those leather things on his legs and I looked and it was Maurice. I thought what is he dressing like that for?! We got to talking and tee‑heeing as usual like they do. Then he went off and I didn’t see him again for a long time. But then he came and that’s when we starting keeping company then.

 

Well we kept company for awhile and then I went to Massachusetts and lived with my sister, half‑sister down there for quite awhile. Why I didn’t stay home is because my step‑ mother and I didn’t get along too good and I figured it was her home, her husband and I was old enough to get out for myself. Why make them miserable and besides I was miserable. I left and went down to Massachusetts and the last time I was down there for about a year. I went to school down there, down to Oxbridge, Massachusetts. My half‑sister took care of me. I always called her my sister cause she was fifteen years older than I was. I told her I bet you felt like throwing me in a lake sometimes. She said, “No, I loved you, I used to feel so sorry for you.” Cause you know I didn’t have any mother or anything.

 

 

One day, one night it was, about one o’clock who shows up but Maurice. He had come down on a train. Once in a while I’d write but that’s why he come down because he wrote me several letters all the time saying “there’s someone in Maine waiting for you”, all that stuff. I couldn’t be bothered to write. He come down and he shocked me. My brother‑in‑ law come to the foot of the stairs and says, “Ruth, there’s a funny looking man down here. You better come down and see who he is and I’ll wait for ya”. I said oh that’s Maurice. Maurice had a taxi and he’d found Worcester, I don’t even know where Worcester, Mass. is, almost to the Rhode Island line and he took the cab back that same night. I didn’t keep too steady but I’d killed him probably if he hadn’t wrote to me. He wrote to me and one time he wrote and he says you know that’s’s somebody here that’s in Maine waiting to hear from you and I love you lots and lots of house lots. I really loved that because I thought that was kind of cute. After that I came home to Maine.

 

I got married, finally. The night I was supposed to get married, I went and hid! I didn’t want to get married and I went and hid. My father came looking for me and he wasn’t very well and he come through the greenhouses which we had, the greenhouses on the Augusta road. He was hollering Ruth, Ruth, Ruth and I wouldn’t answer him. The first thing he started crying and I got scared, afraid that he might have a stroke or have a heart attack. He said you get in that house and wash your face with cold water and you get ready and you’re going out and marry that guy. You told him you would and you’re going to! I said I’ll take the truck out and I’ll bring it back tomorrow. No you won’t he said, I’m taking you out there and I’m gonna watch you get married. Dad wasn’t well and I think he know it and he wanted me to have a home before something happened. He was so persistent with me getting married. I was eighteen when I got married and my first baby was born when I was nineteen. I waited eleven months, I was a good girl! You don’t realize what a good girl I was!

 

Mary was my first and then Thelma and then Stella. That picture of Thelma and John (her husband), my neighbor come in the other day and said, isn’t that a lovely picture of you and your husband! I said that’s Thelma and her husband! I said I wouldn’t mind having him for a husband but I didn’t get him. We were married and we went up to Fairfield and Maurice had already spoke for a rent. We went to Sanitorium Hill they used to call it Spit Hill. There was a well there where we lived and Maurice went up one day and said we don’t have no more water in the well. He was always pulling something like that! He said there’s clams all over the well! That made me so sick and I would not drink that water! I’d choke to death before rd drink that water! One day they had an awful rain and the well was cloudy from the blue clay, you know. I was carrying my second baby, Thelma. I went down over the hill and got my feet caught in that blue clay and couldn’t got them out! The man up on the knoll yelled out Ruth and I said never mind, just go, go! Maurice had to help me back up the hill and my feet were just loaded with blue clay.

 

 

We then moved down to Osborne Street and we had a flush down there. Yes, sir, you turn the handle and the water runs. We had little outhouses with the half moons (before then) and freeze to death in the winter. I was real proud of it. It was in the cellar and it was one of those that flushed up! We then moved from there and moved to Vassalboro on this farm. This was during the Depression when nobody had nothing. Maurice was laid off for a year. We didn’t know what we was going to do. We had two babies, Thelma was born while we were living on Osborne Street and while we were living there, I got pregnant with Stella. We used to go out into the woods, Maurice and I and we’d cut wood, a dollar a cord. He was laid off, there was no unemployment in those days. We’d go in and sometimes it would take us a day to get one cord in. We worked for Fred O. and he had plenty of that green stuff. He was so mean, he used to take Grampy Roberts, Maurice’s father, would give him thirty five cents, can you imagine thirty five cents for a pound of hamburg. Fred wouldn’t give it to us sometimes. When we went over to see Grammy and Grampy Roberts they’d say, how come you don’t say thank you for the hamburg we sent, the money we spent for the hamburg. We’d look at each other, we didn’t get no hamburg and that Fred would keep the thirty five cents. We didn’t know.

 

Thelma and Mary, we used to have to take them into the woods with us, you know, and I’d do them all up. I made snow suits out of two summer coats that I put together. It was a lot of hard work, you know. It was a year he was laid off. We didn’t have the surplus food, we didn’t have nothing. We had to do something to keep going. Course prices, like I said, thirty five cents for a pound of hamburg. You couldn’t even buy a patty now for thirty five cents!

 

My father passed away when I was about nineteen. He was the one who saved Mary’s life. Mary had problems with her stomach and course like I said, it was during the Depression and everything and we didn’t have any money. I called my father up and course I was crying and he came up and gave me some money. She had to be on a certain diet like honey and those cream crackers. He helped me out a lot with her.

 

Then Thelma come along and she was so darn cute She was so fat, she was so cute! Freckles all over her little face, she hates that when I tell her that you know! She was a good kid, very quiet, very quiet child.

 

We were renting the farm for five dollars a month. We had a hard work to pay for rent then but he gave us permission to cut our own wood. I think that he meant for me to cut my own wood. too. I’d go down when the kids were having a nap and I’d cut down a tree, limb it out and haul it up to the shed. I’d split it and put it into the wood box. We didn’t freeze to death but I’ll tell you it was cold sometimes. It was an old, old house you know. In fact, they built an outhouse right in the house in a little room. We had an awful time trying to fumigate that!

 

We built a house on Getchell’s corner and Maurice did it all himself. How he did it on what he was earning and doing it to perfection, I’ll never know. I’ve got to give that man a lot of credit because he dug the cellar himself, he and grampy Lewis, which was his grandfather. He took these big rocks, I found out how they built those cellars with those big rocks. They start to the bottom and they pile them big rocks up instead of putting them where you’d expect them on cement or something. He built that house in 1936, the year that Stella was born. How he did it.   I don’t know, but he’d go and buy a window this week and next week he might buy some two by fours and the next week he might buy a door until he got enough together He kept piling it up until finally he’d built a frame and he had a few windows. Course we didn’t have a foundation then just had the posts. I had some hem setting and these thundershowers coming and there were these old ladies, you know they always tell you something bad, and they said you know, if that thundershower comes, those chickens in the eggs won’t hatch. I lugged them way up in the field in the woods so they wouldn’t be near the house or anything. They all hatched. They were little bantams and Thelma stepped on one of them! She cried and she put a cross up that said stepped on by Thelma Roberts! They looked just like baby partridges. The thing is we couldn’t keep them out of the garden.

 

But when my father passed away, he left me five hundred dollars which was a lot of money at that time. My step‑mother didn’t tell me,, I didn’t know it. I went to the bank to see if we could get some money to buy a lot and the bank says you got money here that your father left in a trust fund. I didn’t know anything about it. He had it so that I’d get ten dollars a month. What can you do with ten dollars a month, even in them days? I went to see Dr. Pomerleau and talked with him because I was supposed to have surgery and told him the circumstances. He said yes I’ll sign it and he signed this paper and we went to the bank and I got my money. When we moved in there we had no doors. We had heavy rooting paper on the side of the house. The house is still standing out there on Getchell comer, you take a left and it’s about half way up the hill.

 

One day Maurice came home and said, I found out where your grains going. I used to put the kids to bed and go out and feed my chickens in the troughs that Maurice built me and in the morning they’d be empty. I said to Maurice, I don’t know why those chickens are eating like that. He came home one night and said I know where your grains going there’s two deer out there laying in the hen yard and they’re the ones eating it! I liked that little house awful good!

 

We went from there over to the farm out onto the Nile Road to be nearer his (Maurice’s) mother and father and when we moved there, the next year they moved to North Vassalboro! We stayed on the farm just the same but then they thought that Maurice might have cancer of the bowel so he got worried and said I don’t think you could run this farm, you know it was 100 acres. I had two cows, one that freshened in the fall and one that freshened in the spring so it kept me in milk the year round. I had a horse for Stella, course she had to have a horse. He just figured I couldn’t do it so we bought that place on Baker Street. I wasn’t happy there, that was in the city, so Stella and I one day decided we was going to move back on the farm. The people hadn’t paid a bit that bought the farm.

 

So I called him up and said you might as well plan to move because my youngest daughter and I are gonna move back on the farm. I said my husband doesn’t want to come, he can stay in the city but I’m coming back. Maurice finally decided he’d come back with me and we went back on the farm.

 

One day my grand‑daughter kicked me in the shins, I spanked her and her father came to get her and I said John, I spanked your daughter and if you don’t want me to spank her, don’t bring her. I wont babysit her, if I can’t correct her. He didn’t say nothing but it was quite a while, they didn’t bring her for a while but I guess they got caught short for a babysitter. They brought her over and he (John) scooched down and said now Pammy you be a good girl because if you don’t Nana is gonna spank you. I said that’s right! Then she (Pam) went to camp and she got homesick and wrote me a letter and I went to get her and her mother was furious! She (Thelma) said anything you want you just go to Nana and she’ll give it to you.

 

Maurice and I went to Alaska and Colorado. He went elk hunting out in Colorado and I went to stay with my daughter (Stella) in Texas. We had a wonderful trip to Alaska! My sister when she passed away she left me three thousand dollars or her kids were good enough to give me three thousand dollars for taking care of her. He (Maurice) came home from work one night and I passed him five hundred. He said “What’s that for? Where’d you get that!” I said Martha from Massachusetts, my sister’s oldest girl came up and gave me three thousand dollars. I said you was so good and so thoughtful to keep my car in good shape with good tires and everything so since she was sick and if they called I could go right down. I said I want you to have that and he was so happy with five hundred dollars. We took the other money and bought a camper. We kept trading our campers until we got a good one that we wanted and then we went to Alaska. It was a wonderful trip, just like a dream. I still wonder if I ever went there! We, went there the year before he had to retire. I wanted to stay up to Alaska longer but he was the kind that they couldn’t run the railroad unless he was there. All he had to do was call the railroad and said I’ll be out for three or four months with notice and they wouldn’t done nothing to his job, he’d worked there for forty four years! It was just like a dream with all those glaciers and everything you read about them in school. It just doesn’t seem true! It’s beautiful up there and you know people say nothing grows up there, but I have pictures of geraniums up over my head, full bloom!

 

We came back and that fall, the fall of 1974, he retired. He was taken sick with that cancer. He did quite a lot of hunting and fishing even though he didn’t feel too good. The last trip he took, he took with two Korean boys and I could have killed them if I ever get ahold of them. They were the ones who told him he had cancer. He didn’t know it until they told him. When he was sick in the hospital the last of it before he died, he was telling me a few things. I said to the Dr., why does he lay there and keep saying, I want to die, I’m going to die, I want to die, I’m going to die? I felt as if I had said something or done something that had hurt him and I felt bad. The Dr. talked to him and come to find out these Korean kids had told him he had cancer and he just let go. I had an autopsy done on him and he was pretty near in the stage of remission. If he had stuck it out six or eight months more he’d have been in the stage of remission. He gave up soon as he found out

he got cancer. I figured that would happen and we had it right on his chart that the patient was not to know he had cancer. I then lost my husband. I had worked in the hospital from 1953 ‑ 1974 and then Maurice got sick and I figured my place was with him. He depended a lot on me. People can’t figure out why I loved him but I loved him. He just was my old honey bunny. A lot of things went on between he and I and they don’t all know everything and we really enjoyed ourselves in lots of different ways that maybe someone else wouldn’t have. I knew that was his way and I know that’s the way he wanted to live. We went hunting and fishing which I’d much rather not have. We made it out all right. Just before he passed away, he opened his eyes and he looked at me and said “Oh, I love you” and it gave me a funny feeling to think I was losing him.

 

Then I took a trip with Thelma. We took a trip in the motor home and we went down to Disney Land. It’s a good thing she had me with her! One night she was driving and she was getting awful tired and I said why don’t you let me drive? We couldn’t find a camp area to go camp in. She said I guess I’ll have to Momma because I’m awful tired. I said ok and I went two miles and found a campground! Thelma said, Momma, I never could have done it without you! We had a good trip that time. That crazy kid!

 

 

We got grammy, she was cremated. We put her in this box and it was right up over my head. Thelma kept going over bumps and said you know Momma that’s gonna come down right on your head! We brought her home and Thelma kept her for quite a while over the fire place. When we went out to bury her I couldn’t help but laugh. Thelma must have dug down four feet! I said Thelma, why are you going down so deep she’s already been cremated. She said I don’t want Grammy to be cold, I’m gonna go below the frost line. She’s buried out in Eames cemetery in Benton, she and her husband both. My favorite old grampa Lewis, he’s buried out to Pittston ferry out in Clinton. The family had a family argument when grammy Alice died.   Grampy Lewis didn’t have any money so he didn’t buy no flowers for his wife. His two daughters went against him and they were mad so when he died they wouldn’t let us bring flowers to the funeral and they buried him way away from his wife. I didn’t like it because I was afraid someone would dig him up! Who

would think he’s over here and there’s a stone that says Harry Lewis so I went out and bought a marker and it says Grampy Lewis. He was a good old fella and he worked in the woods for years. I guess they never had too much money or anything and I guess every time he come out of the woods, she got pregnant! I don’t know how many miscarriages she had! I don’t know if they were purposefully or just happened. All that lived were the two, Lizzie and grammy Roberts.

 

I’d like to live up to Rangeley, I love it up there. I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake selling my trailer. This (elderly housing) is nice. They take and plow you out and they mow the lawns and they plow for me, I’ve got a big flower garden and everything. They repair things but its not like your own home, your renting. I have respect for it. A lot of people don’t and say “I’m paying my rent, I’ll do what I want to” but I don’t I try to take care of it like its my own. It’s a good thing, I shut my door and don’t have to worry about it. That’s why I couldn’t keep the trailer up. I was there four years after Maurice died. The last time I went to mow the lawn, my step‑sister from Union was up. I said Doris, I got to go mow that lawn now and I cried and cried. I looked up towards the heaven and said, “I’m trying, Maurice, I’m trying, Maurice, but I can’t do it”. It was two acres. I had a trimmer and a little lawnmower to trim with. But it just kept you, everyday you had to do something. Then both houses, the rafters began to split and I knew they had to be fixed. I couldn’t physically, mentally and financially, I couldn’t keep things going so I just gave it up. Sometimes I think, maybe if I had just a little bit more courage.

 

After Maurice died, I’d told him before he died if anything happened to him I’d have to have a new car. He’d keep those old clunkers going just like a new car. I bought me a little Nissan, kinda brownish colored. I was so proud of that thing, I washed that and I polished it. One day I went with Thelma up to the garage to have something done and there was this little red station wagon. I said to Thelma, “I’d like to have that little red station wagon!” She said why don’t you get it Momma? I said I can’t afford that! I wanted it awful bad so she didn’t have to push me a little too hard and I got that little red station wagon. This new one I have isn’t brand now, it’s a repossessed one. John had them give me a warranty like it’s a new car. With my first brand new car, I got in it and drove out of the garage and said, “this is mine, all mine and its paid for!” Boy, I was pretty happy!

 

I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do but I can’t afford it. I think if I had the money which Thelma talks about building onto their house of two rooms for me. I really don’t want them to. I think they should have their home for themselves. They’re an individual family and I think they should have their privacy. You’ve got to build such a big house that I don’t think I can do that. I just don’t know if I’d feel right there. You have to have privacy. I just don’t feel comfortable to be right in the middle of that. John is so good, he’d put up with it even if he hated it, he’d put up with it!

 

About all I’m good for now is taking care of my friends. It help take care of this and that one. It like nursing but they wouldn’t take me back to the hospital course I’m eighty‑one, going on eighty‑one. John said to me “why don’t you try to get a job?” and I said they don’t want someone they have to take care of! They want someone to take care of them! It went up to the hospital about volunteering I’ll tell you about that. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I’d like to volunteer but I’d have to be there every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! If something comes up and It want to go, It can’t do it, I’ve got to be there. It don’t want to be tied down. It was tied down fifty‑one years being married! I like my freedom now. I had worked (in the hospital) as a certified nurses aide then they had to give me a certificate because this law come in that you had to have some kind of certificate. It was working as a practical nurse, not a license practical. I worked there for years. Then that law come in so they gave that certified nurses aide to clear me. I was getting nurses aide pay doing practical nurses’ work. I didn’t mind, I really liked it so well that it didn’t bother me any. I love nursing, taking care of people. One time, we had a little scuffle on the floor. This girl had got out and got herself pregnant and wasn’t married and the hospital was trying to cover her up. I was working in the nursery and they took me out and put me on the floor. I was kind of shook up because there was no asking me would you mind leaving the nursery. I kept real quiet, you know if you keep quiet, you can learn a lot and I found out why they took her out of there to keep her out of the public’s eye. It was in the nursery, delivery room labor room for two years. There was this nurse who was hard of hearing and I went down to the desk and said Mrs. so and so needs a pain pill and she said ‘Huh?’ She went and turned me in and they put me on the surgical floor which I couldn’t understand again. This new nurse from Augusta had never worked at the Thayer and she come in the same night they put me down there. We didn’t know the patients, we didn’t know nothing. When we got through that night she and I, when we were doing our charts, she said “well, Roberts, we didn’t kill any of them, they’re all still alive!” I worked the 3‑11, I hated the day shift. When Maurice was alive, he worked the 11‑7 so we didn’t have time to argue! We got along pretty good!

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