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First Person > Dr. Ruth B. Loving

Dr. Ruth B. Loving - 1945-Present: The Loving Trio and Ruth's Civilian Life

Following the Second World War, Ruth continued to volunteer for the USO. For several years, she and her three children, known as The Loving Trio performed for American troops. As her home front duties drew to a close, Ruth concentrated on raising her children. She also learned ways to "work with other people" for the betterment of the community...

Learn more about Dr. Ruth B. Loving: View a timeline of her life and listen to her full interview.

file:/activities/oralhistory/cappics/loving1945_trio, alt: Ruth Loving with her three children

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Ruth's children, Minor, Holly, and Anthony, "The Loving Trio" having their picture taken with the Director of the USO.

The mission of the United Service Organizations (USO), incorporated in 1941, is to "support U.S. troops and their families wherever they serve….By supporting the USO, Americans show their appreciation and express their gratitude to the men and women who defend us."1 For about six years, during the early 1950s, Ruth and her children entertained the troops as part of the USO circuit. Ruth explains, "I volunteered, and…my children were known as the Loving Trio. The boys tap danced. Holly was a ballet dancer."

Photograph of the Loving Children with the USO Director, courtesy of Ruth Loving.

1From the USO Web site, http://www.uso.org/whoweare/theorganization/ retrieved August 17, 2009.

file:/activities/oralhistory/cappics/loving1945_rosa, alt: Rosa Parks stands with Ruth Loving and four other people.

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Rosa Parks with Ruth Loving and other Springfield, Massachusetts, citizens during Mrs. Parks visit to that city in 1965. Ten years earlier on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks had refused to comply with a bus driver's order that she should move from the white section to the black section of his Montgomery, Alabama, bus. Mrs. Park's act of civil disobedience, which resulted in her arrest, inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended once the United States Supreme Court, in December 1956, decided that racial segregation on buses is unconstitutional, and thus not an issue to be determined by individual states.

Photograph courtesy of Ruth Loving.

file:/activities/oralhistory/cappics/loving1945_register, alt: Ruth Loving working to register voters

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This voter registration drive was held at Chicago's Black Expo in October of 1973.

Ruth Loving cherishes her voting rights. She decided before she turned 18 years old that "as soon as I got to be old enough…I was going to…vote. And I’ve been voting ever since." Not all Americans have had the same voting opportunities as Ruth. Ruth was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, in 1914. At that time, her father could vote as long as he met a taxpaying requirement. Because the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote, would not be ratified until 1920, Ruth's mother would not have been allowed to vote while they lived in Pennsylvania. During much of Ruth's youth in New Haven, Connecticut, both of her parents would have been allowed to vote, as long as they met the state's literacy requirement. Since, before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, voter registration was controlled at the state and local level, one's right to vote was subject to local traditions of prejudice. So, for instance, when Ruth, who was then living in Massachusetts, went to the polls in 1962, only 6.7 percent of the African American adults living in Mississippi had actually been allowed to register.


Story Clip #1:

"It's something that you quietly do, and you want it to be very correct:" Ruth reflects on motherhood

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Audio also available in MP3 format

Being a mother is...was...quite a thing... it was unusual. I liked children ...and growing up teaching them to do the things that I remember my mother taught me to do was like reproduction of me...what my mother taught me. You bring that kind of learning along with you. It turned out alright for you, and you feel it'll turn out alright for your youngsters, your...you discipline your children just the same way Mama and Dad disciplined you. And ...that was back in the twenties, and you...I was growing up. It was nice having children, ...to keep them...let's say, ...happy, too. That's why my husband suggested to me, why don't we send them to dancing classes. And, ...it was very unusual for African Americans' kids go to dance class, but he felt that it would give them something might use...utilize as a work structure when they got out of school. And um, they did. They ...went to ...Anita's dance class...we've been there for...'till they's twelve years old. And I made all their dance clothes. I never forget ...when Butchy came to me...he was 'bout twelve, and says to me he would like...you know, could he talk with me, and yeah...he said, Ma, he says, uh, can I go to store and buy a suit? And I said, why? Look at all the suits you got! He said, I want to go to the store and feel how it is to buy a suit. I said, well ask your father. He said, 'course you can buy...that's the first time he had said that...'course then Holly looked at me. I said, no, no, no. I'll make your Easter dresses! So, um, this is how ...being a parent, how children come to you, and they're growing up and you don't realize it. But they realize it themselves. But...he wanted to know how it is...to get a store–bought suit, at twelve years old, 'cause I always made his suits, and made their dance clothes, and et cetera. Um...being a mother was...and...I'm sure a lot of the mothers feel the same way as I feel... it's something that you quietly do, and you want it to be very correct, you know, because they're going out seeing other children doing things, and they certainly come back and say, you know Johnny did so–and–so and...'cause his mother lets him. And you have to be sure you're telling your children the right thing, that you're saying, well, maybe Johnny's mother lets him do it, but you're not to do it because I don't want you do...it's wrong. And this is being motherhood...it's...it's...if you become a mother, as I have, ...it's a great feeling, but, it's a great challenge. You're leading youngsters down around the road, and you want it to be on the right road, and, as we're seeing today, sometimes some of the children here in 2008 are not go...being led down properly the right road, and they're getting off of it kind of early in life. It's too bad.

Story Clip #2:

The Loving Trio sings for the troops during the Korean War

Audio also available in MP3 format

Uh, I sang, of course, because I ...I volunteered with the USO for the simple reason that I...they wanted singers in the trains from the city, and um...I volunteered, and...my children were known as the Loving Trio. The boys tap danced. Holly was a ballet dancer.

Q: Now these were your children.

Those were my children. And they were called the Loving Trio, and they became a part of the USO circuit, as I did, for about six years there at Westover field, to do the entertaining on a regular basis. ... I remember one particular...each of us...of the children had their own... costumes and things, and I remember one night, ...my husband had given my sh...beautiful silver shoes...to Tony, that's the middle boy, 'cause I had three children. And when we got up there, it w...was a November night, snow, and et cetera. I have ... Arctics on, and so forth. And I looked around and I says to him...we were going to change up, to get started, and I says, T...okay, Tony, where's the shoes? And he's lookin' at me. And I thought he had it. And I said, wh...wh...where's the bag with my shoes in it? He says, home. And there we are... ...I said, what d'ya mean home? [chuckles] My husband Minor looked him and says, where is it? 'Cause he was about...then he was about nine, ten years old. And he says, he forgot it. He...he...what he had...his costume, you know... to...[big sigh] Okay. So, in the Arctics and the evening gown, we performed.

Q: Arctics...

RL: That's another picture. I didn't bring it, but I have a picture of me in those Arctics and that...evening gown and I...they thought it was part of the act! And uh, I didn't think it was part of the act! But these are some of the cute little things that happened that ... we as a family, we enjoyed going out there and...going up to Rhode Island sometimes, we went up to... USO in Rhode Island, ... where they had some of the ...planes station up there....

Q: Now, when you were going out to Westover, was that before you were married, or you were...

Oh no! We were married. We were married, oh yeah. We were married...as I say, Holly must've been about, uh, seven. Tony, at the time, must've been about uh, eight. Tony...Butch...they's known as the Loving Trio. And the idea is that they were going so much with me that...and they were doing their own dancing ...with being called by the studio they took lessons from, and they, uh...'scuse me... [tissue break]


...they automatically got used to people, and entertaining, so they had their own... dance... routines themselves that [the]...studio the children were out of, were taught, and they were able to be quiet, because they were quite a site to see, youngsters like...that young, and... it was something that I enjoyed because I was an older person, knew where the kids...working with me...and my husband, and we had quite a year doing that.

Story Clip #3:

"These are the kind of things that...we do over the years because we believe in them:" Ruth discusses the Civil Rights movement

Audio also available in MP3 format

Q: Would you talk, uh, ...we're, we're going to run out of time soon, and I wonder if you would talk a little bit about your work in the...or your memories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Well, the members of the Civil Rights group, as was telling you, too, that... I belonged to the ... Springfield branch in NAACP when we moved here; we belonged for years. It was quite a working group. ...We were interested when ...Rosa Parks, the lady who ...refused to give up her seat, and we were right with her. And we got so that we had enough money to bring her to Springfield to tell her...tell us about what the time she was going through. And I was... the one who was in charge of that committee, and uh, I...here, I brought you a picture...I'm going to leave it with you...uh, bringing her up here, and we had uh, the ministers helped us out with that there. Uh, Reverend [Abram] Sangry was the head of the council of churches at the time. Uh, Rabbi Schwartz was, ...one of the rabbis there. Uh, one of the churches was the ... Methodist Church that I belonged to...a, uh, Reverend Jones, and ... in this picture that we're in, she was such a very attractive woman. She looked like an Indian with that long black hair. She had it up in a bun. And then there was the time that Martin Luther King came up. We know...we followed him, and the things...activities...send him money down to his area to help him with the work. Some of our youth, our young people in college were down, were going to black colleges down there. And they used to come home and tell us about the activities and what they were doing. They were some of those who sat behind the counters down there. And well...uh...best we could do was send them money, send them uh...donations to keep them going to do the work down there. And some of us who did find the time to join...some of'em left from Springfield to go on that summer march. I didn't because I had children at the time. I needed...couldn't go down there. But these are the kind of things that...that we do over the years because we believe in them. The Civil Rights was...what was happening to the people below the Mason–Dixon line was wrong. And the thing was, all of us who thought it was wrong...we all couldn't go down there, but luckily where we live at, there...we were a mixed group here. It wasn't a black NAACP by no means. It was a mixed group uh, ethnic group there in Springfield that worked together, and as you've seen in the marches, there was an ethnic uh...situation where it was not made of just the blacks. It was made of people who were saying...working together and saying it's wrong what's happening to these people down here. They should have their rights. And um, so when they ...these...those...the Civil Rights uh, laws began to be in...put under operation, it was a great feeling to know that, well...you can sit anywheres you want to sit. Um...yes, you had the right to be heard. Uh...these things are worked right up to the present day, that you know if something happens, you have the law on your side because of your color. You can go down and get yourself a lawyer and say, look, this happened to me and I have my rights. And yes, Civil Rights was a, it was a great, great, great movement. It's not over yet! We're still picking around as live across this...things that are still happening. Uh...only I like to add this on...2009...I never thought I'd live to see a black man being uh...selected to be a possible president of these United States. We've done a great thing over the years. Those who are, who've come along, like Ruth Loving, over the years as senior now...we're still waiting to see some of these great things happen. And we might see this year in our election. But whether it's uh...because of a woman who might be in, or whether it's because of a black man. It's going to be a great year, and we need to keep helping each other as we go along.

Story Clip #4:

Ruth's decision to always exercise her right to vote

Audio also available in MP3 format

I said, as soon as I got to be old enough then, I was...that was before I was eighteen, that I was going to vote. And I've been voting ever since until today. I don't think...there's one year...I think one year it rained so bad I couldn't get to the, to the polls, but I voted every year, and um...sometimes I was talking to myself when I went 'cause they changed things years ago, and you didn't know it 'til you got to the, to the station there, um...But voting became a part of my life as I grew up. Wherever I went, when I moved to Boston, I registered right away so in case there was an election and so forth, I'd be able to vote. Came to Springfield and did the same thing when I moved here to Springfield in the early forties.

Story Clip #5:

"If it's wrong, it's gotta be righted:" Ruth's lifelong involvement with Social Action

Audio also available in MP3 format

my life's been like that...that's how I become involved in activities...PTA in...here...when I first began to have children...here...in the forties, there...uh...Chester Street Junior High School there, the principal...my boy didn't want to go to ...eldest boy didn't want to go to the junior high school there because he was the only principal that wouldn't allow Parent Teachers Association there in Springfield. And I went to a couple of mothers; we had a lot of Polish people in our area, and French parents, and I remember I went to Miss Zaskalowski, a couple of us, and I said...she says they were having the same problem with their children. They didn't want...they wanted to go to Orange Street School, schools that were out of the area. I said, no, no, no, no...you go to your neighborhood school. And, uh, they weren't gonna go. So many...I said, tell you what. Let's get a hold o' the organizers of the PTA. She said, well, you should be allowed to go to any school to organize. So, know how we did it? I said, well, I'll go down to city council. It was the first time I went to city council in my life in the public area to ask them, "Do we have the right to organize a Parent Teacher Association in any school here in Springfield?" I think ...uh...oh dear...Danny Brunton was the mayor then, way back those years. And, anyhow, he said, uh, he looked...he said, guys...of course, if you have what the PTA wants for a setup and the ... amount of people, of course you can organize! I said well...they wanted to know why I asked the question. I said, because, I said, I got some parents here whose children are going to go to Chester Street Junior High next season who don't want to go because they...I understand he forbids a parent teacher association in this school. I said, well I..so we came down to see if we had the legal right...oh, they said, absolutely. Well, that meant a little battle, but we got the PTA in Chester Street Junior High School. Kids went up there. And I learned then to work with other people, that we needed things done...in the city...and it meant getting things done, uh...better housing, better programs in the school...that's when this bussing started. I was so angry at the bussing. All we asked was have the same programs as...other territories around Springfield, Agawam, East Longmeadow...they were...children were going to great places. We'd read about it; we wanted our children in the north end of the city to do the same thing. But, they thought it would be fine. Bussed some of the children to Longmeadow and different areas, and we...parents were aghast. We didn't want the children...but, they liked it when they got there. They had nice places...the schools were nice. But we went out...you know...we wanted them back in Springfield area. We didn't want to go to the suburbs. And so, over the years, people's problems, if they weren't a part of mine, uh, caused me to be a part of their problems, to...let's see if we can't solve it. If it's wrong, it's gotta be righted. So, if it wasn't school, it was housing. If it wasn't housing, um...it was just where you were at. It...a landlord...we had...I was...in a lot of landlord...tenants' rights over the years there, that...oh...back in the oh...forties and fifties...who lived in disgraceful housing, that paid enormous rents. That's...that was getting tenants' rights, and we...had right to organize, uh, to...against the landlords and stuff. These are the things that ...make life a little better for where we lived at the lower income people, and it kept you doing things and made your city a better city.

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