Her name was Ruthie Maude. She was in her early 60’s and a slight little thing with a sharp tongue and deep Southern accent. Born and breed in Arkansas she was a “God-fearin’” woman. She smoked “More Cigarettes”; you remember the ones, they were the long, brown skinny ones. She preferred the menthol kind. She would lite them off the butt of the last one, a chain smoker.
Ruthie was married to my Uncle Pogo’s brother Dow. Both men had “real” names, but these are the names I grew up hearing from my dad. She was one of my greatest influences when I was 16. She and Dow were “Snowbirds”, meaning they would travel from Washington down to Arizona in the winter, Then back to Washington in the spring time. Like many other Snowbirds, they pulled their house behind them.
While sitting under the Big Leaf Maple where their house was parked on Uncle Pogo’s place, I would sit in a comfy lawn chair with Ruthie Maude and the other old timers who were both family and friends and listen to their stories.
I loved sitting in the warm breeze of summer, with the bugs zipping around us and the smoke from those long, brown cigarettes wafting around. Ruthie Maude was an extrovert. She was forever injecting funny and endearing Southern sayings in everything she talked about.
“I’m fixin’ on….”
“You ain’t never gonna ….”
“I’m PLUM worn out!”
“Bless your heart” and many more I can’t think of at the moment.
Of all the sayings Ruthie Maude had, my favorite was “You ain’t FETCHED up right”, “You got no Fetchin’ up”, You gotta fetch ‘em up right…”.
“Fetchin” didn’t just mean “to go get something”. To her and others from that region of the United States, it meant the way a child was raised. If a child or adult did something she didn’t think was polite, she would stand her little thin self right straight in front of you and say with a hand on her hip “You got NO fetchin’ up!? I tell you what, right then and right there, she had your attention! Then her serious face would melt into a smile and she’s start to belly laughin’. It was so contagious.
I think about the people who have influenced my life and helped to shape me into the woman that I am today. As I sit and write this, I can see her clearly laughing, smoking and telling stories from her days as a bare-footed, knock-kneed kid in Arkansas where her dad worked in the Cole mines and suffered from Black Lung. Talking quietly about her brother “Bud” being one of the soldiers to die during the Bataan Death March after the fall of Corregidor during the WWII.
So many people help to shape our lives while we are being “fetched up”. Do you remember any of the people who influenced you while you were growing up?