05 February 2015

On This Day: Remembering Mom

My mom was born during World War II. Born Barbara Lorraine Still Ruczhak, she grew up in Unionville in Chester County. Her father was self employed, painting and similar household jobs. He was not called to fight in WWII, nor was he called for the Korean War. Her mother did not work out of the house. Two years later, on Valentine’s Day her brother Thomas was born. That December, on Christmas Day, her sister Mary Kathleen died. 

She was very active in Girl Scouts. At some point during her school years, they moved to Kennett Square. That was probably around the time my grandfather started working at Longwood Gardens 

Mom was in her teens when the American Invasion began and spoke of going into Philly for the American Bandstand often. She went to Bishop Shanahan High School in West Chester. It was her freshman class that was the first class to attend all four years there, as the school opened on 4 September 1957.  She played basketball for Shanahan – center, I think. During her high school years, desegregation was a source of contention at many schools throughout the nation. Mom never spoke of any issues though, perhaps because Shanahan was a parochial school or perhaps because segregation was not really an issue in Chester County. (I do not know if it was or not, I am saying it is a possibility.) She graduated Shanahan in 1961. 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) became the nation’s first – and only – Catholic president in 1961. He was also the youngest president. She attended college up in Massachusetts at Becker Junior College in Worchester. She graduated there in 1963 with her Associates in Accounting.  

After college she moved back home, worked for Penn Dairies and met Daddy at a dance. As a young adult, she saw JFK assassinated on 22 November 1963 in Texas, and saw our nation enter the Vietnam War and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. She and Daddy married in 1967 after he came home from Nam.  

Mom gardened, cooked, and baked. Rarely did she even let me in the kitchen, which might explain why I feel cooking is a chore not a love. She sewed and knitted. In fact, she used to make my clothes when I was little. She even made my Barbies’ clothes! As my sister and I got older (I think I was just in high school), she started her own craft business. It was called Stitched With Love. She sold wholesale only since she did not like shopping or dealing with customers herself. I forget when exactly she closed shop, so to speak. 

The last few years she had been pretty sick. She had COPD. On This Day two years ago she passed away, at the age of just 69. She is buried at St. Malachi Cemetery in Gum Tree, near Cochranville, Chester County, next to her brother, Tom, who passed last August, also at 69. 

May Her Memory Be Eternal.


On This Day is a prompt I started this year to further explore historical events.


© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.