MEEKER I She came to Meeker in 1930 on horseback, accompanied by her brother, six horses and 16 head of cattle to live on Lime Kiln.
“I don’t know if I have much of a story to tell,” said Ruby Hart, 96.
Ruby was 15 when she and her brother came to Lime Kiln. Her parents were Lute and Ella Armstrong. They traded a place on Rhone Creek for the land near Meeker. Lime Kiln was home to many people at the time. Ruby said nearly 35 kids were attending the rural school when they arrived that fall.
She lived there until spring when she left to work for the Pot Ranch owned by Rosey Winslet. She worked for the ranch for two and half years and celebrated her 16th birthday there. She remembers cowboys coming over the hill to the ranch’s bunkhouse to play poker. Her time there was enjoyable, she recalls.
After that, she went to work for Mrs. Purkey, local auctioneer Bryce Purkey’s mother. Ruby said Mrs. Purkey had five babies at home and was going to have another. Ruby was happy to have the work.
She later married Everett Proctor. The two had five children: Jewell (Thane), Ester (Vanderpool) whom they called “Pudgy,” Clinton nicknamed “Shorty,” Carl Lee known as “Spud,” and Kenneth known as “Butch.” From her five children she has 10 grandchildren, and “approximately” eight great-grandchildren.
While raising her children, Ruby, Pudgy and Shorty worked the Little Beaver farm now owned by Nick Theos. Ruby also worked on Escalante Mountain as a cook for a core drilling outfit but came back when it was time for her kids to go back to school. She also made the trip into town from the farm to cook for the hospital for many years. She was working at the hospital when the Walbridge Wing opened, and she cooked and delivered the first two Meals on Wheels in Meeker.
Ruby and Everett eventually divorced and she met and married Freeman Hart. Freeman built the house Ruby currently lives in on Market Street. He handpicked the logs from trucks coming to town from the area around Trappers Lake. The house is absolutely a work of art and Ruby maintained her own meticulous yard until just a couple years ago.
Freeman served in the United States Army during World War II. A few years ago one of Freeman’s roommates from a German hospital after the war stopped by, saying he knew this was the Hart house from the description Freeman had given. Freeman “Tuffy” Hart and Ruby were married eight years before he passed away.
Ruby’s children started school in the Little Beaver school before there was a bus to take the kids to town. She recalls bus driver Deloss Parr, Dean Parr’s father, making her boys walk home on occasion for misbehaving. She believes it was necessary to keep order.
While in high school, Ruby’s children were involved in sports. Both Spud and Butch qualified for the state wrestling competition. Spud was well known for his horsemanship and his son Lute was a jockey. Lute was killed in an accident while riding in his seventh race of the day. He was nearing the top of his profession and had told Ruby he would fly her to Kentucky when he made the big race.
Ruby and Tuffy enjoyed betting on horses and races in the area. She recalls the excellent stock used in local rodeos and how big the rodeos and races were at the time.
Ruby has kept newspapers for years and plans to put a scrapbook together for the museum with original articles she has collected. She has frequent visitors and keeps on top of community activity. She knew the story of the most recent bank robbery, and details of many happenings in Meeker.
One of her grandsons, Clinton Burke, visits frequently and is taking a trip to Peru soon with his two daughters. Ruby strongly considered making the trip as well but did not want to be a burden. While her physical health is excellent for her age, her failing sight slows her down a bit.
Ruby’s astonishing memory is evidence that hard work and honesty keeps a person young. Her home is filled with family pictures and her story, though she thinks it isn’t much to tell, is incredible. When asked what has changed most in our little town through the years she said, “Well, we have a town hall now,” and she remembers Meeker having more businesses in the early years.
Ruby’s scrapbook will be a priceless addition to the museum, not only for its original articles but because she experienced so many of those important happenings. She not only has the printed stories, but more importantly, the verbal history to go with each story. This project will be an absolute treasure because of the knowledge only a true pioneer could possess.