Ruth Stimson        
Learning by Doing        
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Learning by Doing

picture Ruth, at left, teaching chair reseating
Elly Becotte was a young, stay-at-home mom when Ruth was teaching classes throughout Rockingham County. Elly attended many of Ruth's classes over the years, carpooling with other moms to the different places where classes were held. A volunteer with the Hampton Historical Society and docent at The Tuck Museum, Elly remembers learning by doing, the Extension Service's motto, which Ruth exemplified.

"In one class, I learned about reupholstering chairs and couches, and proceeded to make some old furniture look almost new.

"During the 1960s, you could purchase cast-off furniture for a cheap price and, with some elbow grease, furnish your rooms. Ruth taught us to replace old, worn and torn cane seats. I enjoyed caning, and my work is still on display in my daughter's house! I also learned to weave rush seats in Ruth's classes.

"Another year, I learned how to make braided rugs. I made a large rug for use under my dining room table out of scrap wool, cutting up old garments with a razor blade.

"For me the most memorable classes were the sewing classes held at Pease Air Force Base. We learned how to cut velvet or other materials with a nap or a pattern like plaids. Ruth was fussy about doing this correctly. To this day I cringe - and remember Ruth - when I see a mismatched skirt seam.

"Ruth showed us how to handle fake and real fur, and I constructed coats and capes that I was proud of.

"No one enjoyed the tailoring classes more than I did. We learned how to properly cut, stitch and iron a garment as it was being put together. I made my daughters cute lined suits that spring.

"I admired Ruth from the day I met her. She was such a nice and strong woman who loved teaching skills to our eager group of young mothers. We had such fun learning."