This chapter is written from long-ago memories recalled about infrequent visits with members of the Sweet clan; therefore, there is little substance. Nevertheless, it is better than having nothing to remember about these people other than some dry statistics. These are the observations of a former son-in-law, R. H. "Dick" Mach, of Ruth and Clifford who knew the couple for a quarter century. Because these personal remarks are no doubt bias, in fairness these comments should be considered along with the observations of other people who knew the Sweets.
John Estel Sweet was born in Warren County, Ohio, in 1871. His only wife Nellie Gertrude Snider was born in 1874 but the birthplace is not verified. Very little is known about the parents of either party to this marriage of well over fifty years.
John it seems recalled his employment as a motorman/conductor on the Indiana interurban (a streetcar like rail system linking some of the cities of the state) just about every time that the observer was with John. He also recalled his younger days of fishing the Eel River. John's last automobile, a prized possession, was a 1939 Dodge that appeared showroom new as late as the middle fifties. Nellie and John's last home of the physically small couple was on North Main Street in Peru, Indiana, in Miami County about seventy-five miles north of Indianapolis. They died within days of each other.
Ruth Elizabeth Jameson, who married John and Nellie's oldest son, recalled that Nellie had the Snyder temperament (meaning a temper quick to show itself) and on some occasions when things displeased the fiery Nellie, she would go to bed and stay there for an extended period until she had regained her sensibilities. Perhaps this was her way of fighting mental depression before the advent of drugs such as Prozak.
Clifford E. (initial only) was born December 29, 1901. He served in the Navy during World War I, but never went overseas during his short term of service. His name is etched in the plaques along the stairway walls of the Indiana State War Memorial in Indianapolis. As noted above, he married Ruth about 1920 and they lived with his parents for awhile.
Clifford's middle daughter second son paternal grandfather's given name was also Clifford. The grandchild was name the same, but his initial "E" in honor of Clifford Sweet is for Eugene. Several of the same daughter oldest child's great grandfathers were name John, hence he was named accordingly.
Clifford was a small mild-mannered entertaining man of average intelligence who dressed very neatly. He was reputed to be a steam and diesel locomotive engineer with a delicate touch. This prowess was not evident in his gambling ability. For many years he was employed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and was engaged in a regular run from Peru to Cincinnati where he had a long layover before returning to Peru. He seemed to have contributed little more than money to the maintenance and guidance of the family and spent many hours at a social club (Peru Male Chorus?).
Ruth found it necessary to take charge of the family finances when Clifford's gambling became a problem. At one time she resorted to intercepting his paycheck in order to insure that it was applied to the costs of raising a family. This proud and strong-willed woman, worked on-and-off at a variety of jobs during her marriage to keep the family together. Ruth well saw to Clifford's outward needs, but it is questionable whether or not she satisfied all of his desires.
A short time prior to Clifford's death, his eyesight began to fail. Ruth, who had quite driving years earlier, would act as his eyes as they did their daily errands near Mexico, Indiana, where they lived at the time. Luckily, they were never involved in an accident.
Clifford was a Mason and became a Shriner via the York and Scottish Rites. He worked as a Peru City policeman during the depression. An unverified story has him being "out-to-lunch" when the notorious John Dillinger raided the police station and stole the lawmen's weapons.
Ruth, who was born March 16, 1903, often spoke of her father who had been killed in a non-job related automobile accident late at night on a highway as if he were a saint, a label disputed by some who knew him. Ruth's widowed mother moved to California in the late 1940s in order to reap the rewards of a then liberal welfare system. The Jamesons were from Kentucky.
Ruth had a friend whose grandchilden called her "Biddy" and thinking that the term was cute, insisted that her grandchildren address her as such. One wonders if she was aware that the name, which translated to "old hen", was coined to be a derogatory one. At least one son-in-law felt upon occasion that "old bat" was more appropriate.
Ruth was a good card player, especially contract bridge. She upon winning the bidding, would study her hand closely before she made the first play and attempt to force a rapid play of cards thereafter causing others to make mistakes; however, if one slowed the play, he or she could force Mrs. Sweet to become just an ordinary player. Her card playing technique was just another indication of her domineering personality.
Ruth and Clifford had three children:
Janet born February 10, 1924
died April 26, 1986
Betty Lou born April 27, 1926
died February 27, 2000
Ruth Alice born June 10, 1932
Thomas W. "Tom" Strun (pronounced Strune or Stroon), who married the oldest daughter Janet, was adored by Ruth. He catered to her. Robert F. "Bob" Thompsen, who married the middle daughter Betty Lou, was tolerated by Ruth. Richard H. "Dick" Mach, who married the youngest daughter Little Ruth, was the least liked of all the sons-in-law. He preferred to make his own mistakes and disliked being told what he should do, no matter the situation. If this problem could have been resolved, he and Big Ruth because of several similarities could have become good friends.
Clifford retired from the railroad and enjoyed several years of retirement (winters in Florida, summers in Indiana) with his wife before he died May 25, 1977, in Peru at the age of 75. Ruth died when she was 78 years old in Greencastle, Indiana, January 28, 1982, where after being widowed she had moved to be near her daughter Betty Lou. Cliff and Ruth's bodies are interred at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru.
Clifford's only sibling, a brother named Arthur who was born December 7, 1906, was a steam locomotive boilermaker whose skilled career ended with the rapid conversion by the railroads to diesel engines. He was employed at several vehicle tire plants near Peru, Indiana, during the rest of his working life. Both Arthur, as his wife Margaret Glynn, were very large persons and both suffered ill health much of their later lives. Arthur and Margaret had three children:
Arthur Junior born April 3, 1926
died while an infant
Willodean born ___________
Robert "Bobby" born September 20,
died June 2, 1993
Little more is known about Margaret who was born November 28, 1909, and worked at a dime-store in Peru. Margaret died in April 1986 at the age of 76 and Arthur died March 10, 1989 when he was 82 years old. Arthur and Margaret were buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru. Their daughter Willodean has been married tree times, lastly to Niccom and they have a son named David. She has two girls from a previous marriage. Arthur and Margaret's son Bobby was first married to Hazel Lang and they had two boys later adopted by Hazel's second husband, surname Docker. Bobby was married a second time.
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Another story by Richard: We Still Look For Wild Cat