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Ruby Takes Her Love to Town

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July 12, 2011 by wcobserver

Courtesy Photo - Ruby Reed packing up some of her zucchini bread for a customer at the Winslow Farmer’s Market.

By John Ford

Mrs. Ruby Reed is a fixture in Winslow and you can find her selling home baked goods at the Winslow Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. An assortment of zuchinni bread, brownies, cookies and yeast breads are cooling on her counter when I visit her on a Friday afternoon, her baking day for the Saturday market.. A Winslow native, she has lived here most of her life and was at one time a reporter for the original Washington County Observer. In her seventies now, Ruby is still full of energy.

Ruby’s family has a long history in Winslow. She grew up on a farm here and she and her siblings were by her account “independent and strong willed. Some nights we would bury ourselves in leaves to guard against wild animals and we would sleep in the woods. Not that that would have protected us! In the days of the steam engines, my stepdad was employed by the railroad to go down to the tunnel on winter nights to break the icicles from the roof before the train came through. Otherwise the lights on the engines would shatter as the train went through.”

After getting married in her teens, Ruby headed west to Oregon with her husband. A few years and a few husbands later, Ruby found herself back in Winslow. “I’ve always loved it here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else” she tells me. When she applied for Social Security a few years back she had trouble because she couldn’t find a birth certificate. “ I was birthed by a midwife at home” she explained. “There was a certificate for my brother and sister but we couldn’t find one for me. I had to get two people at least ten years older than me, who had known me all my life, to verify that I had been born here about that and at about that time!”

For ten years until 1998, Ruby operated the Cafe at Mt. Gayler offering “good home cooking” to local customers and travelers on Highway 71 which was the main highway before Interstate 540 was built. According to her, “Traffic was bumper to bumper between Fayetteville and Alma and customers lined up for breakfast and lunch at the Cafe. Fried chicken, chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy and homemade pies were our specialty. I’ve always loved to bake and I still do!”

For the past three years, Ruby has been a vendor at the market. She started out selling two or three loaves of zucchini bread every week. Now she offers an assortment of baked goods including breads, rolls, brownies and muffins. Lately, she sells out every week. What began as an excuse to get out of the house and visit with neighbors and friends has turned into a nice little side business for her.

“The market gets better every week” she says. “Who would have thought? In our little Winslow!”

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