The Tell Tale Sign
John McCurdy - April 8, 2012
(originally published in 2008)
Mary Ruth Andrews was one of the Andrews of
Alderson. She lived in a grand brick Victorian house up from the
Baptist Church until she died. She drove a large, grey Cadillac and
did not drive it very well. I often wondered why she had never
killed herself or others while she was behind the wheel, she paid
little attention to the signs that were there for one's directions
and orders. Stop signs, speed limits etc. might just have well have
been suggestions because she never really considered them as
anything else! Compounding others problems with her driving was the
fact that she had lost her left eye and wore in the empty socket a
glass eye as a substitute.
My wife and I worked with her at the FRW for years, she was the
Agent Cashier, handled the money and did it well and as it was
supposed to be done. Not everyone liked her because of that; and
besides she could be an irascible, sharp-tongued 'old sister' as
Pearl's Mom used to say. Her main enemy and sometimes friend was
Melvin Huffman, they carried on a running battle for years! Mary
Ruth said what she thought, actually many times when it would have
been a whole lot better not do have done so!
We had a few differences, but we finally understood that a smart
mouth was sometimes necessary in dealing with each other, I admit
she generally out-mouthed me. I liked her and so did Pearl.
After their retirements, she and Pearl found themselves in the same
Bridge Clubs. One that played on Friday night and the Wednesday Club
that met at some members home each week. God help any body or
anything that came between the members and their Bridge playing
Mary Ruth and Pearl were both very good card players, very equally
divided in skill, and although Mary Ruth might have been a little
too explicit in her criticism of a partners play, sometimes using
expressions such as, "dumb" and "stupid". They managed to stay
friends, with perhaps, Mary Ruth holding a slight advantage in
skill, but then Pearl was probably 20 years younger in age and years
of playing Bridge.
It seemed to me that all of a sudden Pearl was winning more than
usual, she'd come home ecstatic, gloating over her winning of 50
cents or a dollar! She finally told me how it had come about that
she was persistently and regularly cleaning Mary Ruth's clock at the
Remember the "Glass Eye"? Well, Pearl had found that if she watched
Mary Ruth's eyes when the cards were dealt, that Mary Ruth's eyes
opened just a little bit wider when she thought she had a good hand!
If she thought she had a hand that would clear the table, her eyes
would widen, and out would pop the "Eye!"
Pearl said, "When I heard the clatter of her eye bouncing across the
card table I knew to take a defensive position. When it was ejected
hard enough to fall to the floor and everyone had to help hunt for
All of the players, were, to put it kindly, approaching the prime of
life and spoke their minds quite often and freely, Lettie Weikle,
after Mary Ruth had lost her eye twice in the same day, told her,
"Mary Ruth, I do wish you would keep your damn eye in your head"!
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