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Ruth Outside Simmons

Contents:

  1. Ruth's Religion
  2. YWCA
  3. Ruth's Restaurants
  4. In the Stands

Ruth’s Religion

Program for Education & Religion at the Old South Church in Copley Square

Old South Church

Ruth was interested in the lessons of Christian ministers, specifically those from Trinitarian Congregational churches. This is revealed in her keepsakes from lectures at the Old South Church and the Park Street Church. Ruth kept a program from a series of lectures titled Education and Religion. These were provided on Friday evenings, at eight o’clock, in the chapel of the Old South Church Boston by the minister of the church, Rev. George Angier Gordon. Gordon was a powerful and influential preacher who led the Old South Church from 1884 until 1927. One of his main influences on the church was to lead the introduction of liberalism into Congregationalism.1

The Old South Church has a rich history and plays an important role in the history of the United States as well. It is home to a congregation which originally came together in 1669. The founders of this church resisted becoming unitarian, unlike the other Congregational churches in Boston, and to this day honor God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit but express this as the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.2

This is the church where Benjamin Franklin was baptized. Several of its members were major figures in the history of the United States, such as Phyllis Wheatley, Mary Chilton, Samuel Adams, and William Dawes. The church’s ministers, major role models in their own right, worked to eradicate smallpox and fight against slavery. Its members have also helped to found organizations dedicated to economic and social justice.3

Located in the corner of Copley Square, the Old South Church, an example of northern Italian Gothic architecture, was completed in 1875. This building, the third home to the congregation, has a tall bell tower and stonework of brown, pink and grey. The roof is tiled in red and black slate and has a copper cupola.4

Program from a Lecture at Park Street Church, Boston

Park Street Church

Ruth also attended lectures by ministers at other churches in Boston. On October 1, 1922 at the Park Street Church on the corner of Park and Tremont Streets in downtown Boston, was a talk by the Rev. A. Z. Conrad, Minister. This young church began its development in 1804 when the members gathered for lectures and prayer meetings. It officially formed as a church in 1809 and the physical building was dedicated in 1810. This Congregational church, like Old South Church, is also Trinitarian as well as Evangelical.5

Both the Old South and Park Street Churches joined together in the late 19th century to create the City Mission Society, which addressed the needs of the urban community.


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YWCA

While Ruth was a student in Boston in 1923, she was involved with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and was a member of its Student Friendship Fund. The YWCA has its origins in England where, in 1855, it formed as a collaboration between two women’s groups, a prayer group and a social activist group. Their reason for joining together was twofold. They wished to improve the lives of working women and to provide housing for nurses who were returning to England after the Crimean War.6

Ruth’s YWCA Invitation

Although there were efforts to create a branch of the YWCA in 1859 to assist the working women and girls who were living in poor conditions, it was not realized until 1866 by a group of thirty Boston women who came together to help women who were supporting themselves.7

In 1923, the students of Simmons College, Boston University, and Sargent College began meeting as the Boston Student YWCA. This group organized the first interracial study group in Boston, consisting of twelve African-American and twelve white members.8

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Ruth’s Restaurants

Ruth clearly enjoyed eating out in Boston and had some favorite haunts. Durgin Park once claimed the address of 30 North Market Street, and still exists at 340 North Market Street, Faneuil Hall. A restaurant has stood in this location as far back as 1742. However, it wasn’t until 1827 that John Durgin and Eldridge Park purchased the restaurant. A short time later, both Durgin and Park passed away, leaving the restaurant to the third owner, John G. Chandler. He named the establishment Durgin Park after his deceased partners. It is often frequented by tourists today, as it is in the popular Faneuil Hall shopping and eating center. Durgin Park is mostly known for its surly wait staff and its classic New England cuisine. When Ruth visited did she choose broiled fried halibut, fried sausages and apple sauce, or just a slice of mince pie?9

Nan’s Kitchen no longer exists, but must have been a charming little eatery in Copley Square, very close to the Old South Church where Ruth attended Friday night lectures. Chicken and waffle dinners were served at 6:00pm and 7:00pm.

At the Mary Elizabeth Tea Room, Ruth could visit as late as 11:00pm for a beef bouillon, tongue sandwich, hot coffee, and ice cream for 40 cents. Or for 20 cents, a sarsaparilla ice cream soda!

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The menu from Nan’s Kitchen of Copley Square, 1923
The menu from Mary Elizabeth’s Tea Room
Program from the 1924 Brown vs. Yale football game

In the Stands

Ruth attended college football games five weeks in a row in 1924, courtesy of a season ticket holder, Mr. Ernest A. Anderson. Four of these were home games at Yale University. The fifth, on November 15, 1924 was at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1880, Walter Camp of Yale University developed American football from the game of rugby. He is known as the father of American football. Camp’s main contributions consisted of the down, the eleven-man team and the 100-yard field. Ruth attended these games in the Yale Bowl, which was completed in 1914 and was the largest stadium constructed since the Roman Colosseum at the time. 80,000 fans filled the stadium in 1920 for the Yale-Harvard Game that year. The famous mascot, Handsome Dan, was adopted in 1889 and still exists to this day as Handsome Dan XVII. Unfortunately, there was no Handsome Dan in 1924. After Handsome Dan I died in 1898, his successor did not appear until 1933.10

Game Scores
October 18, 1924Dartmouth vs Yale14-14
October 25, 1924Yale vs Brown13-311
November 1, 1924Army vs Yale7-7
November 8,1924Yale vs Maryland47-0
November 15, 1924Brown vs Harvard7-012

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1Perry, Amy. “Old South Church in Boston United Church of Christ,” Website accessed on March 4, 2017, http://www.oldsouth.org/staff/amy-perry

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5"Boston Massachusetts. Park Street Church. Records, 1804-1976, 2009,” Congregational Libraries & Archives. Website accessed on March 4, 2017, http://www.congregationallibrary.org/finding-aids/BostonMAParkStreet

6“YW Boston,” New Media Campaigns. Website accessed on February 26, 2017, http://www.ywboston.org/about-us/

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9“Durgin Park,” Wikipedia. Website accessed on February 19, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durgin-Park

10“Yale University Athletics,” Presto Sports. Website accessed on February 19, 2017, http://www.yalebulldogs.com/landing/index

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12“Official Website of Harvard Athletics,” Presto Sports. Website accessed on February 19, 2017, http://www.gocrimson.com/sports/fball/1924-25/Schedule