Ruth and Linwood

5 Jun

Linwood 2014 After Ruth (Lake Erie)
Linwood After Ruth

Linwood Tabernacle


From: “Linwood on the Lake” by Ray Boas, On the next four pages I [Ray Boas] have reproduced an article that I wrote for the June-July, 1985 WESTERN RESERVE Magazine published in North Canton, Ohio.

Essay Below by Kathryn Mapes

My mother and I drove back into Ruth’s (my sister-in-law’s mother) past when we entered the grounds in Vermillion, Ohio (west of Cleveland) of Linwood, a corporation and collection of white wooden cottages, built mostly in the twenties and thirties. It was Friday night on Memorial Weekend, around 9:30, and we could not see well. After visiting with a pleasant man at a cottage near the entrance, we followed his directions to Ruth’s cottage close to Lake Erie with 1924 emblazoned on it in brass letters. My sister-in-law, Rhonda, and brother hadn’t arrived yet, so we were able to see it firsthand, mainly in the way Ruth left it and without Mima, their golden doodle, who made Ruth furious after she ate the steaks off the grill one night several years ago. Once Mima and Skipper, Rhonda’s long-haired cat, made their appearance the next day I sensed a changing of the guard.

The cottage was fussily and exactingly decorated. In the living room was a tall picture of Ruth looking directly into the camera with a woodland scene in the background. She had explained to me on my first visit back when she was still alive that she couldn’t take it down; it was too good a picture. I realized the second time I looked at it that I’d never seen a picture of her where she looked so happy.

I chose the Tennis Room, so-called because it is decorated with tennis rackets, one of which is a clock, and photographs with different tennis stars, like a picture of my sister-in-law Rhonda with her youthful crush, tennis star, Vitas Gerulaitis. The room atmosphere seems fitting for Ruth, who played tennis only weeks before dying of a heart attack. It is also one of the pursuits at Linwood, also including Sunday chapel, biking, and swimming.

Tennis Room at Linwood

I will probably not spend much time here, because this is the vacation place of Rhonda’s family, not mine. Because of this, I was marking details the way you do when you know you may not see a place again. I checked out all the pictures on the walls and all the bric-a-brac, including shells
and caricatures of family members by Ruth’s brother, James, an artist. I had been to Linwood once before in the fall and I mainly remember that it was cold, forcing me to wear a sweater when walking on the beach and that there were few people there besides Ruth and her friends, the Reeds. I had enjoyed the solitary aspect. Ruth and I bonded over an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which she liked, except for the girl-on-girl kissing scene at the end.

Each cottage is spaced one parking place from the next one, which I would find claustrophobic, but which the locals seem used to. Ruth had an outside shower built, although I used her bathtub inside just as she did. The next morning, when we were up, we started receiving visitors, including the Reeds. I always like to find out the history of a place, and asked about it being a Presbyterian enclave. Mr. Reed explained that far from being Presbyterian–I had thought that because Ruth’s father was a Presbyterian minister–it was started by German Evangelicals, who were most likely Methodists. When researching Linwood online, I discovered a history by Ray Boas, who says that the German Evangelicals lost the space where they were holding camp meetings and ended up establishing Linwood. One amusing detail that I will have to share with my nieces is that the cottages originally did not have indoor plumbing. Each morning families would gather to pour out the contents of the their slop jars from the night before. I have a vision of my nieces meeting their cousin, Claire, and pouring out their slop jars in their American Girl costumes.

Claire is beautiful, and although her parents are attractive, she does not look like them. She either takes after her father’s family, whom I don’t know, or someone in the Eckert or Gwynne families whom I have not come across. An original. She is a triplet, but only one of her triplet brothers and an older sister came that weekend.

Claire and Rhonda

She was a frequent visitor and seemed fascinated with my sister-in-law, Rhonda, which Ruth would have appreciated. Rhonda has that earth mother-confidence-sharing aspect that younger women go for. If born several generations ago, she might have worked with her husband in an apothecary shop or taught in a one-room schoolhouse. I could see that Rhonda and Claire’s relationship was going to evolve into the future, further cementing the foundation of family relationships that Ruth had been so much a part of.

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