Ruth Owen Tipps, Storyteller
"How the Woman Got Her Ring" as told in 1963
Ruth Owen Tipps was a storyteller. Though she read me books like Wanda Gag’s Millions of Cats, I don’t remember her telling stories.
Just before her home was sold and she moved into a nursing home, I took one of her story notebooks that I discovered tucked away in a family-room cabinet. It took me thirty years to read the short stories she had shortened and copied. One sleepless night, I finally opened the notebook and was shocked to find that the stories covered the topics of race, class and gender!
My favorite, and the most surprising to me, was a 1933 story by Ann Shelley from Cornell College Archives: The Husk Magazine—“How the Woman Got Her Ring: A Too-True Story, with Abject Apologies to Kipling.”* Ruth, or “Mano” as I called her, told this story in 1963 in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Below is a copy of the front of her notebook, and a copy of one page of the story in Mano’s bouncy handwriting. In addition, Cornell College made a copy of the original version available (it is in public domain) for readers to enjoy the full version of this powerful tale.
This story reads like a fanciful fairy tale, but its social commentary on what was required for a woman to find a man to marry her was stark and its honesty surprised me.
* Shelley, Ann. 1933. How the Woman Got Her Ring: A Too-True Story, with Abject Apologies to Kipling. The Husk, v. 13, no. 1, p. 5-8. (published by The English Club of Cornell College, at Mount Vernon, Iowa -- October 1933.