One of Bay’s oldest residents recalls life in the Village

Ruth Telfer enjoys the screened porch in her Glen Park home, where she has lived for 60 years. Photo by Tara Wendell

Ralph Telfer and I met shortly after World War II, at a friend’s party in Rocky River. I was living with my mother on West 48th Street and teaching kindergarten at Almira Elementary School in Cleveland. Ralph was a teacher at Lakewood High School. Before we set the date for our wedding we searched the western suburbs for a home, determining that Bay Village, full of beautiful trees, was better than any we had observed.

Bay Village was small but already known to be a prestigious address. We found (with my mother’s help watching the newspaper ads) that a place on Glen Park was available at a price we could afford. We did not bicker with the owner – who needed more than two bedrooms for his growing family and had to move. We hurried here!

So, we became Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Telfer on July 11, 1953, at Franklin Circle Christian Church on Fulton Road in Cleveland. The church had become a makeshift shelter after a tornado ripped through the area – destroying the steeple, organ and many of the pews – so we were married in the small chapel with folding chairs! The sign over the door, visible in all of our wedding pictures, read, “Red Cross Disaster Area.” After the ceremony, we hurriedly left in the tin-can-decorated Chevy we had waiting for us at the back door of the church.

A very short trip to Michigan did not keep us from our new home on Glen Park, where I have stayed! At that time, Glen Park and many Bay Village streets were not paved. Gravel remained for a few years. We paid for the paving and the sidewalks, common in the 1950s. We also had to clear the lot of debris long collected there.

In the evenings, we sat on the steps of the back door, eaten by mosquitos just long enough to determine to add a screened porch. We never did glass it in, as we used it six months out of the year and spent our winters in Florida. We had a place in Venice, on the Gulf of Mexico, where we could walk to the beach, wade and search for shells.

After moving in to our Bay Village home, we needed to find a church. No problem! There were plenty to choose from, including one Presbyterian – our choice. We found friendly people welcoming us and inspiring pastors.

In recent years, after I was left alone, a sad widow, the bereavement classes helped, as did the warmth of the friendships that welcomed me. I am proud to say that I am the oldest member of Bay Presbyterian Church. Sunday is still not Sunday unless I attend a service, as I have as long as I can remember. A friendly family from Westlake, the Bacons, pick me up at my door every week and make sure I get to the 9 a.m. service.

At age 93 I decided (before the police did!) to put away my old Oldsmobile, which had stayed in the garage, for fear that I’d be tempted to take it to the drugstore or Heinen’s. So I gave it to Purple Heart for someone in need of a car.

I hate having to depend on others for a ride to shop or go to senior center events. The senior center van wonderfully often comes for me on shopping days. One good thing about not driving is that I seldom get out of the Village to go clothes shopping and save money!

As I near 100 years of age on June 7, 2015, I am already wondering what I will wear for any celebration.

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Volume 6, Issue 14, Posted 10:58 AM, 07.08.2014