Wisteria Gardens Celebrates 94 years and Six Generations Living with Ruth Calhoun
On Sunday, July 17th, Wisteria Gardens of Pooler and the family and friends of Ruth Calhoun hosted a birthday celebration in honor of her 96 years. Her age should naturally be celebrated. However, most unique is that that she is the only known living individual in the United States who has six living generations.
This beautiful remembrance was written by her daughter, Beverly Calhoun.
“Ruth was born on July 15, 1920 she was born in a community called Pinetucky, on the outskirts of Augusta, Ga. Mom’s family had resided in Pinetucky, farmed and owned farm land and farmhouses that had been in the family for generations. Their land bordered Camp Gordon, which expanded and became Ft Gordon during WWII. During this expansion, the government requisitioned, and acquired the Pinetucky property. All the families in the community were ordered to leave — they lost their farmlands and homes, which had been in the James, Cawley and Blackwell families for centuries — Mom’s maiden name is Ruth Lee James — Mom not only has lived through the depression, through the civil war and remembering loved one’s returning home from war – lived through WWII and not only losing her younger brother during WWII but saw the hurt and heartache her parents endured as they lost their farmland and home of generations.
Mom married my Dad after the war, and was a typical stay at home Mom of her generation. I remember all the neighborhood Moms stayed home, they did not even drive – the cars were for the husbands to take to work, and the ladies would be driven to the grocery store and church. The Moms were the homemakers, and completely dependent upon their husbands.
Dad, well Dad was a handsome Irishman, what I heard termed as the ” black Irish ” as he had jet black hair, deep azure blue eyes, and I heard as a child, neighbor ladies saying he had movie star good looks. Dad loved the ladies, and the ladies loved my Dad. He and Mom managed 16 years together, even with his infidelities, until one day he literally did go to work, and never returned home. He finally did leave with one of his lady friends.
This next part of my mom’s life is why I love and deeply admire her — her strength, her love of family and her determination to provide for us. When Dad left, he left Mom with their three daughters, ranging in age from 5, 11 and 13, plus my very ill Grandmother, Mom’s mother who moved in with us after Granddaddy passed.
Now Please remember, Mom had always been a stay at home Mom, she had a high school education, but no marketable earning skills, she did not have a car, had never even learned to drive, but after Dad left, she would be up before daylight, walking all over downtown Augusta, Job searching . she was finally hired at the University Hospital in an entry level position in their sterile supply Dept — she also obtained an afternoon job as a waitress, Mom would awaken early, walk the five miles to work in all types of Weather, cold wintry weather, rainy cold days as well as in the summer heat — after walking to work, she would have a full day of standing on her feet working, leave that job, walk to her waitress job, stand on her feet for her evening shift, then have the five mile walk home . I never once heard Mom utter a word of complaint; conversations I overheard between her and my Grandmother she would always say, Thank the Lord for giving me work to support my family.
This difficult struggle Mom went through, occurred during the fifties, the laws were not helpful to Mothers in that era – I remember attending court with Mom once, when she was attempting to collect child support, and the Judge verbally stated – this man is not going to pay and you just can’t get blood out of a turnip — Their was no government assistance either during this time frame — an era well before food stamp assistance. Whatever was brought into the house, you worked and provided for.
Mom wore out her pair of shoes during this early time frame, with walking to work, standing to work two jobs and walking home again. I remember for about a month, until she received her regular pay periods, she wore the blue booties hospital employees wear over their regular shoes, and this was all the footwear Mom had, and still she never complained.
Mom worked her way up from Central supply, relocated us to Savannah, went to work at the old Mary Telfair Hospital, then was transferred to Candler, went to Armstrong and became an OR Nurse. Through her hard work, Love and gratitude to the Lord, Love of her family, she was determined her children would never be “ashamed” of her – as if we ever could !!!! She wanted us to have a decent home to bring our friends home too, and did eventually purchase a brand new home for us on Malibu Circle. She taught herself to drive, and bought her first car in her mid ‘50′s . She continued to drive until she was 85 and voluntarily said, that’s enough, I would not ever want to be responsible for hurting anyone in an accident, I feel it’s time to quit driving now. That is just so typical of how Mom always cares for, and looks out for others – she is completely the most caring, and unselfish person I have ever known.
She has passed this Love of family, concern and caring for others, and her strong work ethics, down through her family generations, a Legacy I have been proud to have. She has said, many a time, during her long years of struggle, she didn’t think her health would allow her to live into her sixties, and now, here she is, Blessed to live to see her sixth generation come into the world, and not just one of the sixth generation, she now has lived to see and love, two members of her sixth generation – Kimberleigh and Christopher born.
Mom has a zest for Life that is very contagious.
Written by Beverly Calhoun