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Rutland resident Ramsey turns 102

Mary Lee Ramsey was born in Stallo, Miss.  Jan 14, 1911. The family soon moved to Noxapater, Miss. 

Mary Lee’s father and uncle decided to open a General Store in Drew, Miss. and so when she was about 5 years old they moved again. The family bought land in the country out from Drew.

She had one brother, L.B., who was five years younger.

Mary Lee confesses she was a tomboy, she always played with the boys if she had a chance. She loved baseball, football and especially fishing. In fact, she has a scar under her eye where she was hit by a baseball bat.

Home was a happy place, except when she was given a dose of castor oil in orange juice. Just telling about it made her face screw up in disgust.

School was a fun experience. She was a good student in everything, but she did have a little trouble with math.

For Mary Lee’s 16th birthday, her father gifted her with a red Chevrolet convertible. Her Mother had taught her to drive when she was 13 and so she enjoyed driving around town in her new car. She did tell her father that he may have  chosen the wrong color, the red stood out so much that everyone knew where she was and what she was doing all the time.

In all her years of driving, she only received one ticket and that was in Memphis many years later. It was the day before Mother’s Day, on her way to the store. She was stopped by the policeman even though she did not think she was speeding, he said she was and gave her the ticket. When she returned home she said to her husband “when you asked, I said I didn’t want anything for Mother’s Day, but now—” and she handed him the ticket. He was working at the Court House so she figured he could take care of it.

As a teenager, Mary Lee enjoyed many friends. She and her girlfriends would spend time at the fountain at the drug store drinking “soda pop” after school. Many Saturdays found them at one of their homes playing “Rook” or some other card game.

Mary Lee had known her future husband, Joe, for most of her life. Their families moved to the Drew area at about the same time. They married on Easter Sunday, 1930, in a civil ceremony, with mostly family in attendance. They were married for 67 years, before he passed away in 1997.

They had a wonderful marriage. After Joe completed his time in the Army he worked for the Federal Government in the Farm Security program. Working in this program, they were required to move to different areas of the country. They lived in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and other states before Joe retired.

Mary Lee and Joe have two children, Mary Helen and Frank Hugh. Frank was born 17 years after Mary Helen. They had a built in baby sitter when Frank was born.

After Joe retired, they bought a lot on Bayou D’Arbonne Lake near Farmerville, La., and built a retirement home. The lived there about 5 or 6 years and then the lake flooded and they lost everything, even their car was flooded. When the lake water was rising they stood and looked at it, wondering what to do when a man in a boat came by to rescue them. They said they would wait. The second time he came by they decided they had better go. Mary Lee was barefoot, but even so she insisted on being sure her next door neighbor was rescued also. Since she was barefoot, she wasn’t sure a hotel would let them in, but they did.

After Joe passed away, Mary Lee lived in senior apartment developments near where her children where. If they were transferred, Mary Lee would transfer along with them. When they were transferred to the Nashville area, she first lived in a senior apartment community in the Hermitage area. When Rutland Place was being developed, Mary Helen brought her there to look. Mary Lee’s comment was “I knew I wanted to live at Rutland Place when I first walked in the door.” She was among the first ten residents here.

Mary Lee says that after four years here, she is still happy, loves the staff and residents and still loves to play cards with her friends. 

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