What is your full name?
Well, I go by Marjorie Taylor Ruth.
What is your birth date?
May 6, 1932.
How many children do you have?
Well, I had seven pregnancies and have given birth to four children. And two are living now.
What year did you have your first baby?
1952. At Army hospital in Pittsburg, CA. Dianne is her name, she was born Oct 9, 1952.
Who was with you?
My husband. I’m going to say that labor was about 8 hours long, that baby is 62 now. I was excited to become a mother. Since we were in the Army, there were two doctors, one was a captain and the other was a lieutenant. There was a third doctor who was civilian and had been a medical missionary in China for 30 years. I always saw the officers when I went for checkups. The day I gave birth, I got the third doctor. He had experience with women who worked in the rice paddies. They would work in the fields, then come in and deliver their baby, then strap it on with a sling then go back out to the rice paddy. So that was how we women were treated.
So I had this doctor, and he would not give us any anesthetic until the child was coming. And so I literally saw stars. It was a pretty horrible experience. So that’s one I’ve never forgotten.
What was the room like where you labored?
Actually, it was a big barracks with about 20 beds. Then you went the whole lengths of the barracks to the far side where there was a delivery room. So we got to see women coming and goingthroughout that time. After the baby was born, then we stayed in the open beds in the barracks. The delivery room looked basically like an operating room.
What were the nurses like?
I don’t remember many nurses, but since we were all together for postnatal in the barracks after the birth, I remember one of the other mothers, I think she was Japanese. Afterwards, she was so upset about her delivery. She was really angry with her husband.
What was the beginning of your labor like?
My husband was a clerk in the stockade, so his hours were 9-5 and he was never gone overnight during the pregnancy and never away from me for long periods of time. I must have gone into labor in the night, because he stayed with me the following day and we went into the hospital in the morning.We sat down to have breakfast before going and I believe my water broke.
I liked Army Hospital, it was a good place. I think we paid $6.75 for my meals for the 3 or 4 days while I was there, and that was it. And that’s actually the reason we decided on that hospital. He’d been drafted two years earlier and after the first month he was able to come home at least once a month for a few days. So he was able to come see me all the time. He didn’t go oversees to Korea. In his area, most of the guys did get sent overseas. At that time he was an MP in the stockade, where all the guys were in jail and there were probably 100-125 guys in the stockade, and he could remember the MOS number for each guy. After that, he became a clerk.
What about your other births?
Teri was born an hour and a half after my labor started. Yeah, it was quick. The nurses were holding my legs together until the doctor could get there. Because it was the middle of the night. This was Dr. Brown in Hawthorne. So next Teri, a year and half later in July of ‘54. An hour and a half, I’m tellin’ you. I called my neighbor at 2 in the morning and she came right over and we broke all the laws getting to the hospital. We were living in this house at that time. I think I was probably there for a couple days after that, I didn’t come home right away. When I was born, women had to stay in the hospital for 10 days.
What else do you know about your birth?
I was born in Dr. Smily’s Hospital in Santa Monica. That was really his name. I don’t believe mom ever told me the details of my birth.
So after the two girls, Dianne and Terri, what happened next?
Well, Teri was born on July 15, 1954 and Mindy was born exactly one year later on July 15 1955. While I was in labor with her, one of the nurses came in and said, “Boy, you really have big thighs, don’t you?” And that’s the main thing I remember from the nurses. I was in labor for a lot longer than an hour and half, but I don’t remember exactly how long. Next, we had Paul twelve years later in 1964. And that was a very long labor.
I was afraid to have him because I knew something would be wrong. I had had German Measles when I was two months pregnant with him and the chances were high that it would cause problems for him. Well he was born and he was very bright eyed and alert, so I thought, “ok, he’s not blind.” And because of the way he was looking around, I didn’t think he had mental problems. When he was two weeks old I was putting him down for a nap in the middle of the day and I decided to lay down too, and when I lay down I had, just like a revelation, “Paul is deaf.” So I got up and I went in the kitchen and got a big kettle and a metal spoon and went into the bedroom and held it over the side of the crib where he was asleep and I pounded on it . . . and he didn’t flinch.
I was aware of deafness because my oldest daughter, Dianne, at the age of 2 and a half, got the mumps. And in those days you could call the Torrance Health Department and they would send a nurse out. So I called her and she came out and Dianne wasn’t sick at all, she was riding her rocking horse and the nurse said, “Oh, dear, don’t let her do that. You never know what Mumps will do.” So I took her off the rocking horse and set her on the floor to play.
One day she was sitting on the floor watching a television show and Bob came in and said hello, and several times said hello. Then he came to me and said, “She doesn’t hear me until I step heavily on the floor.” So we realized that she was deaf, but could feel the floor move. My mother had a friend who was a secretary to the Chancellor at a university, so we called her up and asked her if she knew of any services for deaf children. She told us about the John Tracey clinic, which was run by Louise Tracey, the wife of Spencer Tracey. And their son was deaf and she started this clinic. So we got in there and they said, yep, she had a hearing loss in one ear.
Later she caught a cold and it settled in her other ear, so she lost hearing in that ear also. So she wore two hearing aids. Her hearing returned later though in that ear. So we became very much involved in the school. At first they were teaching speech, and then there was a change and they went to something called, “Total Communication” which was sign language.
So when I learned that Paul was deaf, we called the teacher that Dianne had and she came out and tested him. He was very young when we discovered his deafness, and we were aware of some services, so Dianne’s teacher became Paul’s private tutor. She came to the house twice a week until he was 16. He learned speech, not sign language, because we took him out of school in 5th grade because they were doing the Total Communication. He went to Jr. High and then to High School, but he didn’t learn sign language until he was 21. Now he and his wife both have cochlear implants and their children are hearing.
So you had Dianne in 1952, Teri in 1954, Mindy in 1955 and Paul in 1964. What kinds of things filled those years?
A lot. So Bob had dropped the girls, Terri and Mindy, off at school. As they walked across the playground to go inside the building, Mindy fell down, dead. One of the teachers had been looking out the window as they walked and had seen her fall and called for the medics. They called me and I called
Bob at work and we all hurried to the hospital, the doctor said that she had died before she hit the ground.
Had she been ill?
No, it was like the Lord simply called her back home and she just left her body here. She died in 1963 and then Paul was born the following year. So I’m sure they saw each other before Paul was born. Paul was a blessing and a comfort to us. Life goes on.