Remembering Ruth Day Taylor

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 9, 2017

When I was in the grammar school portion of Tryon School, we all knew the people in the high school—especially the football players and the beautiful girls. I have often referred to that time as the “Golden Age” of the Tryon School because we seemed to have an abundance of man-sized football players and more than our share of really pretty and talented girls. I will not name any of them because I might miss some and then their descendants might feel hurt by my omission . . . and if I mentioned all of them, it would exceed my word limit! 

Ruth Taylor

However, I must name Harold Taylor and Ruth Day because I am writing this tribute about them. I thought they were two of the better-looking ones, so I was more than pleased when they married. I knew that outstanding citizens would come from that union; I think I have been proven right about that. Their passing in recent days is a loss to our community, but provides an opportunity to celebrate their lives in remembrance.

When I wrote about Tryon School long ago, I mentioned that Harold’s mom, Mamie Taylor, ran the cafeteria when I was there. I wrote that Mamie’s cafeteria food was “better than most people’s home cooking.” Ruth therefore had her work cut out for her as she set about feeding Harold in a manner to which he was accustomed. Ruth soon developed a similar reputation among the folks at First Baptist as Ruth brought her great dishes to the church dinners and the Taylors hosted luncheons for new members.

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At one of these luncheons, besides the gourmet cuisine prepared by Ruth, we were treated to some of Harold’s stories, as he was known for being a skilled raconteur. When Ruth took the floor, she told us a long, shaggy dog story—she masterfully built it up, hooked all of us, and then turned the unkempt canine loose. Tentative laughter turned to groans, as we realized we’d been had. Ruth’s satisfied grin won all of us back as we continued the banter . . . a group now bonded and sharing. That was the purpose of the gathering, of course.

Ruth did not understand at first why she was at White Oak. Harold was nearly always there when I visited; other members of her immediate family soon became faithful, too. Ruth eventually accepted her lot and enjoyed being the center of attention. She also enjoyed her cup of buttermilk in the afternoons. She always offered to share, continuing her tradition as the consummate hostess.

When they celebrated her birthdays, they did that right, too. Harold would reserve a meeting room and everyone brought presents and edibles. I was always invited to join them to help eat the delicious bounty, even though all I brought was myself.

One day when I left them I went over to give Ruth a light kiss on her forehead, and she lifted her face as I got closer, so I brushed her lips lightly with mine. She grinned broadly and said “Thank you.” So that became a ritual that always brought laughter all around.

When Harold died suddenly, daughter Paulette cautioned me that Ruth was not yet really aware. So we just had a “normal” visit that day. A couple of weeks later Ruth was alone when I went in, so I asked where her usual visitors were. She looked at me and said simply, “Harold is dead.” Not prettied up with the usual euphemisms, just a mater-of-fact statement. So she then knew and had accepted it.

I like to believe that she and Harold are together again now, for eternity.