A daughter's eulogy
Ruth Ella Scrivnor was a good cook…no she was a GREAT cook! Maybe because she entered this world on the kitchen table in her family home! Named after both grandmothers, Ruth Lavinia Clark Warfield and Ella Mae Nichols Scrivnor, my mother was the only “normal” birth her mother had. Sadly, she lost her mother, Laura Margaret, when she was only two and a half years old. Mom had no memory of her mother. Her father then married his dead wife’s sister, Ann Gertrude, when Mom was 4, so her step-mother was “Aunt Gertrude” and folks, who were not paying attention, thought that Mom was calling her step-mother by her full name, Ann Gertrude. Those were the days when children really were raised by the village and Mom received quite a few scoldings until she could pronounce her T’s clearly with “AunT Gertrude.”
Mom attended the two-room Dayton school house that was diagonally across the street from where the Crossroad Pub is now. She was promoted to Clarksville High School, where she graduated in 1942…class size 18. World War II was raging and Mom got a job at the B and O Railroad as a File Clerk. If you have ever been to Camden Yards, where the Orioles play, then you know that long narrow building on the first base side. Mom worked at one end of that building and for a week, she agreed to help out a friend’s boss, while her friend was on vacation. Mom did not realize that her friend’s boss was located at the opposite end of that building and when she found out; she knew that traipsing back and forth on that loooonnnng hallway was not going to be fun. So for the rest of the week, she wore roller skates to zip up and down the hall! Mom was quite the creative problem-solver!
It was at the B and O where Mom became best friends with Ethel Radcliffe and when Mom expressed her homesickness and wanting to quit, Ethel suggested that Mom move in with the Radcliffe family. The two families met and it was agreed that Mom would indeed move in. The main part of her rent was handing over her sugar ration coupons to Mrs. Radcliffe, since Emma Radcliffe had quite the sweet tooth! You know the old saying, “There is always room for one more?” Well, they tested that adage for all it was worth. Imagine that Mom, Aunt Ethel, and Aunt Dora, all shared the same bed—that was not even a FULL SIZE bed! It was a ¾! When one shifted, they all had to shift! It was here that Mom met my Dad, Tom Radcliffe. Daddy was on leave from the Navy in 1943, after his ship was torpedoed and required a long repair. He surprised his family with his arrival and all the Radcliffes ran out to meet him on the lawn. Mom knew that the meal that had been started would be ruined, so she stayed in the kitchen and finished preparing it. It was truly the way to Dad’s heart! My mother was an excellent cook! They had one date before he returned to the Navy. The next time Dad came home was January 1945 and for only 10 days. Dad said that he had to marry her to get his bed back, but then he never slept in it again! They were married on January 18, 1945. Dad had to return to duty and they did not see each other again for 10 months.
Since Daddy stayed in the Navy after the war, they traveled the US going to his various duty stations for several years. Mom kept busy with needlework and created some intricate lace tablecloths and doilies for the furniture. She learned to knit and crochet and much later, mastered needlepoint and cross-stitch. Some of you may even have one of her many afghans. Right?
Daddy was sent to Baltimore on recruiting duty from 1950-1952 and that is when I came into the picture. We lived next door to Barb and Otts Greul, who became our close friends for many, many years. Since the Navy was sending Dad out again, Mom wanted to be with family…also because her father was ill, so she moved the three of us back to the Scrivnor family farm on what is now Ten Oaks Road. After Grandfather Scrivnor died and Dad got orders for Norfolk, VA…that is where we moved for 3 years…returning to the farm when I was 7.
Daddy had decided that 20 years was enough Navy time, so when he retired, Mom started working at the Central Bank of Howard County in Clarksville. Mom had always handled the money for our family, so this teller job fit her skills perfectly. She became good friends with Elizabeth Smith, who was the first female bank manager at that institution. The bank changed names over the years and Mom was promoted to branch manager of the Citizens National Bank’s Simpsonville branch before she “jumped ship” and started working at Commercial and Farmers Bank in Ellicott City. Then she became an office manager for Valley Mede Construction Company, also in Ellicott City.
When interest rates went through the roof and construction slowed to a crawl in the late 1970s, Mom decided it was time to stay home and care for Dad through his ordeal with cancer. The doctors did not give him much hope when his cancer was diagnosed in July 1981…only 3 months. Charlie and I changed our wedding date from May 1982 to September 1981 to make sure that Daddy would be there to walk me down the aisle. When Dad’s diagnosis came and the doctors’ demands that no one smoke around him, Mom had to give up smoking her half pack/day. On my wedding day, Mom said she could eat a whole pack; she wanted a smoke so badly! But she resisted. Daddy lasted 3 years, not 3 months…no doubt from the care that Mom provided. He even got to see and hold his granddaughter Emily before he died in April 1984.
Mom tried working after Daddy died, but she picked the wrong employer—Old Court Savings and Loan. Do you remember the scandal they created? Mom had only worked there a few months when she was deposed by the FBI as they investigated the illegal activities and Mom decided that was enough—no more paid employment. She stayed home and got involved with the USS Brown Reunion (Dad’s favorite ship), where she attended their annual reunions and handled the money for the Ladies Auxiliary. She did that for 20 years before her first set of strokes in 2006. As she lost functioning, she moved into Angel’s Touch Assisted Living in West Friendship, where she received wonderful care. I thank them so much.
Now with all her work with numbers and money, you would think that she was skilled in counting, right? There was only one little problem…her age…she was always 29! No matter what her true age was, she said she was 29. Ironically, if you do the math, today, January 17, 2013, is just a few months shy of 29 years since Daddy died. Mom and Dad will finally be together again on their 68th anniversary tomorrow.
Posted by Debra
Friday January 18, 2013 at 10:23 am