[Transcript of interview with Clara Rutherford, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

My name is John Rutherford. I work for the Springfield library and we are doing the Recollections and Connections audio recording project. Today is Friday, March 5, of 2010 and today we are with Tammy Tyler and Clara Rutherford. Tammy will be asking the questions and Clara will be responding.

Hi, I'm Tammy Tyler and I'm here to ask my friend Clara some questions about her life. I would like to know where were you born?

I was born in Pensacola, Florida and apparently it was a pretty close run thing between a military transport plane and Pensacola because my mother, it's a long story, but she was flying back from the east in a military transport plane that was semi-pressurized. They didn't realize how far along she was because she was so thin and so small. But she was already 8 months' pregnant. And so I could've popped out in the plane because there was, it was not pressurized. Then they landed in Hawaii, then went to Los Angeles, then went back to Pensacola where my dad's mother, or family, was from. And so they got there and I was actually late, I was born late, but I did manage to hang on until Pensacola. [laughter] That's always been kind of a joke with, you know, I was not going to come out until the white sand was visible.

[laughter] That's funny. So what were your first words, and when? How old were you?

I'm not 100 % sure I was still on a blanket, I mean still like on a pillow, I was very small. My dad and my mother moved in with his grandmother who everybody called Big Mama and his mother who was, who I'm named for, Clara Louise. And Big was a huge baseball fan. She was also crippled with arthritis. So they had this underweight, strange little baby, because I was only 4 pounds when I was born and they would put a feather pillow on her lap, and my dad would hollow out a little space and lay me in the feather pillow. So she could watch me and take care of me during the day, because my mom and dad both worked. Well, she would always listen to the baseball game, had to listen to the baseball game, and apparently she kept telling me over and over, every time it was time for the baseball game, "Now listen, there's Dizzy Dean, there's Dizzy Dean." And my first words were "ditty dean".

Oh, that's sweet.

So it made the Pensacola paper, which is a strange sort of thing, but at that time, 1960, it was a huge human-interest story, you know. So, that was my first words. And I've been speaking strangely ever since.

That's a cute story. How long have you been here in Missouri?

We moved, my sister was also born in Pensacola; she's 13 months younger. At some point between her and my brother Paul we moved, my parents moved to Georgia, and then up to Shawnee Mission, Kansas with the jobs that my dad was doing. And my brother Paul was born in Shawnee Mission. That's how I can keep track of where these places were by who was born where. He's four years younger than I am, and between the time that Paul was born in ‘64 and my brother Carl, the last of us, was born in ‘66, my parents moved down here to Springfield. So we've been here mostly, with occasional forays elsewhere, but still in this same area since ‘66.

All right. I want to ask you a couple more questions. I want to know how did you meet your husband John, and how long have you been together?

Ok, on one of the forays I went to pursue a Masters' degree in historic preservation at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro. And I went to start the spring semester, so I was there like in late December, early January and I was in, the offices for the historic preservation program were in an old two-story house. I guess they thought this was great, but I was waiting to meet the director of the program and try to set up my schedule and stuff. I was so sick, I had my head down on the table and I kept hearing people talking and stuff and I lifted my head up and I saw this guy and I thought, oh my God, he looks like Robert Carradine from "Revenge of the Nerds". And he did, and he still sort of does. This turned out to be later my husband, but quite a bit later, not a huge amount, but you know, not centuries. So we were in the same program. He was an undergraduate and I was in the graduate program of the same thing, but since there were so few students we all had to work together on different projects and stuff. And that was January of ‘85. And then by summer of '87 that was it. We were together. And it's a funny thing, he loves me to tell this story, which is just totally strange. He had an ancestor who was with the 24th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. They fought at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I had an ancestor who was in the 2nd Florida. He fought at the battle of Murfreesboro, in Tennessee. At that point he and his boys got their butts kicked, and he said, John always says that it's sort of like eventual genetic retribution because he says I captured him at Murfreesboro. So I guess it's the second battle of Murfreesboro. So that's how we met, so ‘87 ‘til now, which is a hefty amount of time; a scary amount of time.

It's awesome. Thank you, Clara.

You're welcome.

[Transcript of interview with Clara Rutherford, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]