Ruth Enders and Erin Chrusciel

Recorded September 4, 2008 Archived September 4, 2008 01:13:25
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX004289


Ruth Enders talks with her granddaughter, Erin Chrusciel, about how she raised nine children and what life as a military wife is like.

Subject Log / Time Code

Ruth has nine children, She found out she was pregnant with her first child in November of 1949. Her first born was Carol who was very small when she was born and was, at one point, given last rites by a priest before she recovered.
Ruth’s kids loved animals and had plenty of them. At one point they wanted to make a pet of a skunk they found.
Ruth’s husband was away on duty for such a long time that one of his daughters used to call him Uncle Daddy for years.
Ruth’s husband was also a hunter and the family would often have odd types of meat for dinner, like bobcat. Ruth refers to these exotic additions as “mystery food.”
Ruth describes her husband as a “pilot.” Pile it here and pile it there.


  • Ruth Enders
  • Erin Chrusciel


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00:06 My name is Erin crucial and I'm 37 years old. Today's date is September 4th 2008. We're at Springfield, Massachusetts, and I'm here today interviewing my grandmother.

00:21 Hi, my name is Ruth Anders. I'm 81 years old and this is being done in Springfield, Mass. And I am a Aaron's grandmother.

00:34 Okay.

00:40 First question is about the fact that you have nine children. And my first question is when did you first find out that you're going to be a parent that was in the November of 1949?

00:57 And how did you feel? What was your reaction when I was only 22 so that age you're still a child.

01:04 Butter and I feel happy about it.

01:08 Can you describe the moment when you first saw Carol? Well, when I first saw Carol, I was impressed by our huge eyes and she was very spunky but she was small. She was only 5 and 1/2 lb, I didn't know that she was real small, but she okay what she early well ya know she was really on time, but we had to put her back in the hospital because I couldn't get her to eat. She would just shake her head. It's about a nipple on the bottle and put it back. In fact, the priest came and gave her last rites. But and to top it off as she kept they put her on her stomach in the hospital and she had rub their knees kind of raw and I got upset when I saw that in my mother just walked up to the hospital just took her out without notifying anybody and they just have us we could never bring her back there again.

02:03 Your mother or Carol either of them?

02:09 Can you describe what it was like being the parents of parent the mother of nine children? Well, you're busy and you just live day by day and it's I don't think it's that difficult. Really.

02:24 You know.

02:26 Butter

02:28 Feeding them all once and getting them ready for school was always a chore but and running into all that places. I've had to be I was constantly on the road.

02:38 What was it like to be a parent of the wife of an Airforce pilot? Well, that wasn't easy because we moved 14 times and you know, the kids had to switch schools end up moving a lot. Although it was interesting, you know, what living in different places and I we lived in the Texas and California, Oklahoma, Illinois, and I love them and know that was interesting. What was the most I know you have quite a few stories about about traveling around the country in a trailer with all the kids. Yes. We had. Well, we had our furniture and everything but it got so difficult moving we decide to get this nice 43 foot trailer at the time. It was the best one put out.

03:28 But it wasn't easy. I we had to put our fish tank in the bathtub.

03:35 We had a motor scooter anchored in the right behind the bathroom. Then we also had a big collie dog that was in the trailer into the door kept lying open on the trailer. So we had to pull over to the side of the road cuz everybody's honking your horn some exciting times. How did the kids do and living in such tight quarters to think while we had a huge room on the side so that it wasn't that bad really but I was glad to get into a house yet. And I remember Susan my second-oldest telling me when we first moved into the new house. He just walked into her room and just kept spinning around. She was so happy, but you didn't know there will be four more children. I wouldn't be so huge.

04:22 What do you think is different about being a parent in the military, especially the wife of an Air Force pilot who was away very often.

04:33 Yeah, I was alone a lot and so you have more responsibility, but I don't think it affected the kids really have how is it different for you than say a normal family that

04:46 Both parents were home all the time. Well, it was a lot better when you have your husband come home each night, and you know that he can supervise the kids too though. They weren't always happy about that.

05:01 Do you have any other stories about the kids growing up that you wanted to share? No, just too many trips to the emergency room. You know what one got shot with an arrow and feather when climb the pole on a tent and got huge Splinter and stomach there are always things happening.

05:21 Luckily, I had a woman living next to it was a nurse. So she was good at pulling out stitches and things for me. So I don't have to make as many trips who got shot with an arrow Richard San Carlos, Napoleon got this huge splinter in stomach.

05:38 What about what was the story where?

05:42 Somebody shot you. Oh, yes. I was in the kitchen and my son came in with a BB gun and it went off and the chat the overhead light and when ricocheted back into my chest and I yelled at I've been shot.

06:02 Do you feel about that? Real bad was just another one of those days.

06:08 My mom my mom always talks about being able to divide very quickly cuz there were so if you made a batch of cookies everybody knew fraction that they they had to make a mark on the word every time I had a cookie and then when I reach for Mark's they'd slash across and sometimes when they ran out of cookies, they try to buy some from one of the other kids.

06:32 Was anybody successful at that? Yeah, I think they were if they had a little money cuz I didn't get much in the way of an allowance. Although they lived well and they had good food and plenty of clothes and bicycles and whatever but your mother she was so cute growing up as she like to dress up and you could get those little stalls and little high heels and hats she loves us and then she was a fussy eater though. I had a can out the number of peas that you should

07:03 Butter and she was smart she could read before she started school. Wow. Yeah, she taught herself to read even when she was very small. They put her in a playpen with a bunch of books and she was just very easy. Haha. Yeah. She still doesn't like vegetables. No, she doesn't.

07:23 One of the other things that my that my mom always talks about is Susan who's the second oldest always having animals did and I remember going up into one of the in her bedroom wants that are not going to lose the other bedroom or the boys were and they had a cigar box with like Beaver feed and different things. I never put my hand in the Box in the dark and screaming. Yeah. She did she loves animals whose and they trapped a skunk once and they beg for me to have it fixed and I just didn't have the money to Let It Go, but there are two she and Richard were in tears. They wanted Dead Skunk. Yes, and you had animals at the time dogs and cats are we always did and we had a little cage at back we had raccoons in that and the kids used to go out and

08:21 Leap actually my spoons in there cuz they were feeding it, you know, marshmallow Whip and jelly and the like

08:29 I think they one of them clubs does eight through the cage and escaped. But yes, we had also had guinea pigs. Oh, I didn't know that we ended up selling them to Mount Holyoke.

08:43 Then I had a big for the money.

08:46 The professor's came to the door very nasty know he's your mind experiments. I guess. I don't know that I know I didn't know about the experiments of that too much of these before but you didn't the squealing when they were hungry and my husband used to go to the yeah mess hall. I'm bringing home leftover salad things like an okay lettuce and whatever you feed them. Yes, I put up with a lot.

09:18 Do you have any favorite memories about traveling and in the different country and the different states that you were in with the with the whole family was not easy. I remember my one look Carl standing by me. They didn't have the car seats then. I remember feeding him chips Hathaway cuz he carried him feeding me chips kept shoving chips in my mouth.

09:43 No, they weren't easy trips because my husband didn't like the stop to go to the restroom. And I know it was I can't tell it all.

09:54 What was the story about Richard and he had an Evel Knievel helmet and simple? Yes, that was in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He had a Steve Canyon helmet on and he fell out the door of the car. And if it weren't for that Steve Canyon helmet you probably wouldn't be here today.

10:15 Was Steve Kenyon when he was like an Evil Knievel guy? Yeah sort of but not quite as bad.

10:25 And what was I saying to in the Airpark in lot of the Food Mart parking lot the door open didn't she was clinging to keep her points? That wasn't, you know new car seats then? Yeah, and then it was so I had the car beds which was which were great. Then I had the car that had the cubby hole soda, like in between the front and the back seat and I throw a pillow in there and put the latest baby on the pillow.

10:51 Nice to take the kids to school, you know in don't have to bring everybody and neighbors 2 or giving it their kids to take. I know it's so funny. I had to put it into that. Was that the White Station with yes that had the cubby hole that you can put the beds right? Yes. What was the store? I remember story about somebody with gum on their head. That was Carl is one of our long trip is going to clear in the service and everybody was saying how good Carl was he didn't budge the whole way we found out he had gum stuck to the back of his head.

11:25 That's why you didn't move.

11:28 It was a time too. And I was filing Evan was pulling the trailer and I was driving a car and his speedometer was broken. So I periodically I would have to pull up next to him and scream. You're going 55 miles an hour or you're going 65 miles an hour slow down.

11:47 You have any fights on the side of the road? So one of you is driving the trailer and whenever you was driving and car yet. It wasn't always that way but at that particular time.

11:57 A boy lighting times. Yes.

12:12 Here's a question brake. How has being a parent changed you?

12:18 Well from when I was a Carefree curl before I got married change me plenty.

12:23 I don't know. It's made me taller and you know, and I don't blow up at every little thing either. I think I started out more like that and then his kids came along you find out doesn't get you anywhere. So I was easier Kurt used to have his breakfast served in bed on the top bunk.

12:42 Didn't want to climb down because I don't know. I was just getting to mrs. Softer towards the end of the week with a knife when you're really easy.

12:54 Yes, couple questions about you and Grandpa. How did you meet Grandpa? I was working at an airport and he came in for a job and I thought he was coming in for a job working on the line dancing planes, but he was very insulted cuz he was coming in for a job with a flight instructor. And what was the job that you had? Well, he did get the job as a flight instructor. I was at I was heard of a PBX operator interview or I get a lot in a bookkeeper. And yeah, it was essential airport in Camden, New Jersey airport. We had a lot of celebrities come through there Frank Sinatra and jockeys from the year. There's a racetrack nearby Garden State racetrack. So it was a fun place to work. Oh, wow. How did you know that he was the person that you wanted to marry you told me.

13:45 That we were comfortable together. Yeah, so

13:51 Remember how he proposed now? I really don't would probably the same old proposal. Will you marry me I guess.

14:00 I did that but then he went and service after that after we got we were married while he was in the service. We were married at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. And then we were transferred to Enid Oklahoma before he got his wings, but he had been in a TV before that. He was a naval Cadet to do you have any advice for any young couples who are in the military now? Well be prepared to it move on short notice. But you know that happened to us or even on Christmas. We were we were traveling on the road. So I had to go buy all the kids gifts after Christmas as a women Waco, Texas and we were transferred.

14:45 What are the challenges that you would say that a couple would face? Do you have any advice for them but being in service me?

14:56 No, it's so according to what your husband's doing. You know, I was alone a lot. So be prepared for that cuz he kept temporary Duty in another place now go pee in Japan or someplace. I'm happy by myself by what he was in Japan for a year. So I live with my parents then I Carol and Susan Wright Susan when he was gone. So he wasn't there when Susan was born. She was 7 months old before it's all well and then when she did start talkin, she's to call my uncle Daddy.

15:30 I'm kind of doing this a little backwards about the right. What was your earliest childhood memory? My earliest childhood memory was getting a prize for drawing the best apple in first grade.

15:45 And I'm a terrible artist now, but that was I was good.

15:50 What were your parents like they were strict but they were fair and I learned a lot from them. They were good to me and I to add that were like parents to their two nuns my mother sisters and I thought a lot of them did they live nearby? I not that far. At least I think it would take a bus to our house, but they had to travel in pairs because what to say for them to travel individually or my mother would pick them up but they were good to us. As soon as I rode with like mothers to us and what are their names Helen my sister Helen claim it to her and Ruth's on they made their house that was our names but they had different ones did one of those make that nun doll that my mom has. Yes. That was my Aunt Ruth and she died in her middle fifties, but she was very smart. She went to that Catholic University in Washington every year every summer.

16:49 But she went for an operation and that she needed another one and she said it's too soon for the second one while she died. She you know, it was a shame he died before your mother was born. I was pregnant with your mother when she died on that Sir Christopher went to yeah, right? Yeah, but she was sweet.

17:12 Who would you say is the biggest influence in your life growing up?

17:19 My guess my parents.

17:21 The biggest influence and how did they what lessons did they teach you? Well morals for one thing and to be honest, but with my mother was Thrift, she was very Thrifty and she passed it on to me and I am Thrifty and I use a paper towel wash it out and reuse it many times until it falls apart. What kind of Thrifty things did she do? Well one which item even like to mention. She used to say bar soap little Chuck little chunks and should use that to wash dishes and my sister still get sick of thinking about she's member that slimy soap. We used to use it to dishes.

18:03 Is very Thrifty?

18:10 If you remember any stories that they used to tell you when you were young, you mean my parents. Yeah. Yeah. I remember my mother saying what a big deal laundry day was then because the hot water in the you know, you had to use a scrubbing board, you know to do the clothes and she's talked about the time that she had left in Nederland something that she was wearing and it my grandmother must have put her hand into the needle and went through I guess going away into into our bloodstream and my mother all Thomas wanted to say I will kick his ass. I killed her cuz she had died when my mother was 19. Now. Where did your mother go up to Grub in Philadelphia her father had a jewelry store and they lived, you know behind the store, but that was an interesting life. Yeah. What was that? Like, well, he was so sweet old person piece to come over on the every Sunday for dinner till I died but

19:07 Her parents are strict to she has to be in by 9. She said at night are they The Tyler Place at looking for yeah. What was what was that City like then for Philadelphia? Yeah. It was not the best section. I don't think I think it was said, you know, not rough like it is today, but it wasn't an easy place to go up and how many people are in her family. She had a two brothers and two sisters deliver, you know, five of them in my family and how I just wanted to go, you know a little better. So I thought I'd have more how did she feel about the fact that you had nine kids.

19:49 Who am I my grandmother your mom my mom?

19:55 Never said too much about it. I think it's rough when we went home to visit. We thought we were welcome. But sometimes I wonder where we really

20:04 Sweden what to do if we got the who to stay with ice to stay with the heavens father Mike that he was real nice about us staying there and her sister up mother. How did you have were out of the room for a well? I put it in the attic and loving people in there was really hot up there.

20:23 But his mother was a singer she had three husbands. She put three husbands in a grave Grandpa's mom. Yes. She was

20:32 Everything is do you remember anything that used to make you laugh when you're a child? That's my big problem. Is everything made me laugh it still. I can laugh. I remember once in church boys weren't supposed to wear hats, you know in church and this kid was walking at the island and then reached over and yanked his hat off and I started laughing. I thought I was going to have to leave.

21:00 Little things like that church is always a good place in our house. It's kitchen table. My father would make you leave sometimes all the kids will be leaving.

21:12 Yes, sir. I laugh at everything. I guess that's where it came from. Do you remember any stories about your siblings?

21:23 Oh my well my younger sister right now is Alzheimer's but she was another whipper to she had 224 earrings you had 12 on each year and her blond hair and when she was real cute looking but she remembers the time she was walking up the drive to visit my mother and father and she heard my mother say here comes that bleach blonde now. Yeah, it's a shame that we laugh and get all her earrings in her fancy clothes and everything and now she has Alzheimer's and she's really in bad shape. Yeah. Yeah, and how old is she now? Joan is the $75 six of us.

22:12 Yeah, my two of my brothers are dead

22:20 Yes, he is. Well, that's nothing my father and I can't exactly remember how many there were.

22:26 14 I think children and his family and they all made something of themselves. And where did they grow up in Baltimore in Baltimore? And yes.

22:38 And then tell your husband Evan said father to came from a huge family, so

22:46 That's it. Wow.

22:48 I'm jumping all over the place. Very good interviewer. I wanted to ask if there was any other stories about the kids that you could remember or any other things about my mother growing up that said she was never a bother your mother really she was one of these ones but

23:12 I'm going to school at rosary. I had a lot of stories. I member I want to know it's pulling Susan's here and I went in for the house when she was in the olden and I think the kids got too much for she go on the back of the room and say Jesus Mary and Joseph help me.

23:32 She was here, but I don't know trying to think of anything really exciting with a kids are so many things that I do remember that Kurt had so many bumps and bruises.

23:48 Being run to the hospital flying off his bicycle or letting and going into a pole. So there's always excitement. But Carol to on her bicycle going to a brick wall and teaching him to drive to I was a real deal. What about the garden? What about grandpa's garden? Yes, he grew so much. I actually when he was in bed at night, I get some of the tomatoes and see how far I could throw them.

24:19 I actually hit eggplant in my dryer you headache yesterday with the food just kept coming in and coming in and you know, how much can you use but yeah that Garden is said he playing at so many trees that the garden has too much shade now. So besides we're too old to fool around the garden to Carl did by this individual pots that you put the tomato plants and you know, that's all we have. Do you have any good stories about Grandpa hunting? Oh, yeah, I do.

24:56 He was he had to be careful grandpa with a gun cuz I remember once when we were in that Mobile, Alabama, I just walked through the room and I heard a gun go off and I got hysterical and he shot a hole through a chair and into the wall and he said to me, why are you crying?

25:15 He also shot a hole in the bottom to bottom of his truck.

25:19 But he did get a lot of deer ever but whatever he got. I had to cook I mean raccoon. I didn't eat it, but we give it to the animals in our dogs, but I never want to get across the street but something over a fox I guess it was and I froze it and I didn't know what it was and I took it out and I cooked it and he's sitting in his recliner. Like he always does when he's is Milani setting. What is this? You're feeding me?

25:48 He wasn't too happy about that weight without a freezer full of game and factors freezer. So cute. I think there's still stuff in that freezer. That's say like mystery food.

26:01 I don't know what it is. So fucked up by Mark everything now.

26:08 I remember coming over the house and him asking us to try.

26:12 Different foods like dried meat and I was usually too scared. Yeah. Well, I just pretty good at cooking a butt. Sometimes I cook something and I will need it myself and I take the kids with how did you like that? I think of trying to think Bobcat we have Bobcats two.

26:33 It looks good. I I never ate it the kids didn't know till after the latest.

26:40 I wanted to ask about a couple words that you just reminded me of that we have in our family that are made up moluccana O A muga. Yes, Frank give didn't eat good food, and he didn't like eggs. So I'd make him a milkshake and I put an egg in it and he never knew he had a negative milkshake and we used to call them but love is a lie and bubblers. Oh that's cheap bubblers. Yes, you just toast a piece of toast and put cheese on it and you know putting a broiler in a bubble. We call them bubblers.

27:18 I think of any other ones there are some other words that we ate every night boy all you know, the whole family at the table. It was none of that TV stuff then and everybody at the table together everyday let you know that we had a big meal in the evening.

27:34 But now everybody you know how your grandfather sits in that recliner and has three meals a day and they're

27:42 Any complaints about the chair?

27:47 SA

27:51 What words of wisdom would you want your children and grandchildren to have from you? Well, as I get older and we are gone. I just hope it to you have a tight-knit, you know a relationship like I do now and help each other because it's always somebody needs help. You know, the people's right. How many people are there with grandchildren? And well, we have a 17 grandchildren and children.

28:26 Great don't know it'll be five great-grandchildren five great-grandchildren.

28:31 Yeah, we are all pretty close.

28:33 How is your life been different than you would imagine they would be well, I always said I want a big family. So it's probably if you know what I thought it would be but I was going for 12, but I figured 10 is nice but enough.

28:49 You're shooting pretty high. I'm going for one. That's not working on that. What was that? What are you most proud of in your life?

28:59 Proud of my kids I mean things haven't been easy to know you have your ups and downs but on the whole

29:08 I am proud of my family have a pretty good job what does your future hold for you my future hold how much is left

29:19 I Futures I can walk without being in one of those hoverounds

29:26 No I know just Peace Quiet and maybe not as quite as much cooking I'm sick of that

29:33 If you let the animals in the house that long hair Chihuahua Bernie who terrorizes everybody on the street and two cats. Do we have doodle in the Mitte?

29:54 Do you have any questions for me? Yes, how do you like your job as a photographer? I love it hurts very impressed. I showed him one of your pictures the one of the big tree and he's real impressed about that and any other questions and how do you like married life? Even Mary quite a while just stupid question.

30:16 I enjoy it a lot more than I thought. I would be very afraid to get married given that my mom and dad are divorced. And so we dated for 8 years before we got married. Well, it was good. So I knew what I was going to use Smart. It was smart. Remember when I got married I had to fly to San Antonio from Newark Airport and the pilot came back and sat down next to me and said you're going to be sorry.

30:47 I'm coming back tomorrow. We said he's going to be sorry. I married somebody in the Air Force and when I got to San Antonio, he couldn't meet me because he was a good dad and I had to travel around and try to find a place to spend the night and I'm lucky this cab driver who was good to me check out different places and I was petrified and if I side with did go to a city roaches and everything.

31:14 And my mother gave me some phenobarbital take I got it, which I did.

31:22 Yeah, I can't complain after hearing that.

31:27 Then I had to go for a physical and all that before I was married and I remember your grandfather was so shook up. He signed his name Evan Richard Richard Army marriage certificate. He forgot his last name was was that pilot right? Where you sorry? You married a guy named through it.

31:51 Yeah, we ran the chappelear at Lake Charles Lake Charles LA to San Antonio Randolph Air Force Base.

32:01 Yeah, I'm standing up there and they all are thinking what am I doing?

32:08 My sister said the same thing happened to her when she got married to this. What am I to you? Just to marry someone in the know she didn't know himself Helen my sister Helen now, and so she's

32:26 By yourself

32:30 That's the highlight of my year when I go visit her. Yeah, that's a big deal for me. Now. She's down in Atlantic City. No we go to Atlantic City nearby. Yeah, go to Atlantic City when I go to visit her, but what are you what are you play the slots? Usually have you ever want any big money 250? I think I won once but I'm very stingy with my money.

32:55 She follows me around and gets very annoyed because I'm cheap.

33:03 Do you have any other questions for me?

33:06 Let me see now things seem to be so good for you except that. You would like to have a child. You have a good relationship with your mother and and babo I think is great and your father Jimmy 2000s fine and it's good. I'm things turned out. Okay. Yeah, that's good. Even though they got divorced and we're both remarried and they're both happy and I both friends still and now so that way I'm proud of you are being a photographer and I think that's great. I sure Dad. Yeah sure did and I think that was fantastic. I never dreamed. I never did ER for I never did either that happened really quickly and it's great. Now if I can just find a baby.

33:56 Yeah, I know. I just saying it's kind of funny that hate being a granddaughter of somebody who had so many kids. I know right? This would be an issue. I can't help you out there if I had another when I give it to you, but that would be a miracle.

34:15 And I always say that there's a safe baby drop off at the hospital and I always say I'm just going to stand there and wait. Yeah, I wonder that's that you know, really can't you put your name on a list?

34:26 I wish we could that be great. So antithetical so many people, you know have them and don't want them help. I know you never thank you know, I just assumed my sister only had one and she wanted more sister Helen. Yeah.

34:49 So I can't think of anything else. I think Steve is great to your husband thinks your kids will come over and painted. My kitchen for me. It was fun. We had a lot of laughs and everybody few years back to everybody come over and pain in my living room. I still have to touch up paint and there's a lot of touching up to be done to pick another room to do next for you to face red. Please don't talk about my basement. We don't talk about my garage. I am mortified if somebody comes to do any repair work. I refused to go down with him that I am really humiliated and my husband saves everything your grandpa. Say say everything. What do you call him? He's a

35:34 Porter a pilot

35:37 Do you tell somebody that wants what is the pilot here in Pilot there?

35:44 And he wants we get when we have the roof done and we had the dumpster and I thought he was our opportunity to get rid of some stuff and there's nothing in that garage that I want to get rid of so we did get the tires out of there and that cost me a lot of money We snuck them out. If you would have time would take him to the dump and you have to pay for each tire and he doesn't even know them as we could do a whole hour just on stuff that's in the garage. You could remember Jimmy used to say he could pay off his mortgage for the stuff that was in our garage.

36:19 I think we should end on that note.

36:24 Is there anything else that you think we missed know there? Probably is but now you can't help you. Can't tell it all.

36:34 I think we're good.

36:38 So hello.