One of the things I enjoy in life is meeting people and hearing their stories. (Maybe that is because I grew up listening to my dad, Bud, tell stories of his life.) I am fascinated by people who have been around awhile and have much more experience than me. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with a 92 year old during a recent trip to Massachusetts. My husband, Bobby, and I always stay with his sister, Michelle, and her husband, Glenn. Glenn’s dad, Ronnie, also lives with them.
Ronnie is a spry 92 year old with a great sense of humor. He enjoys laughing with his family, especially his granddaughters, Nicole and Courtney. He also enjoys a glass of Bailey’s or a dish of vanilla ice cream at night. I enjoyed visiting him in his room and watching the American Heroes Channel (AHC) with him.
During one of the times I was sitting with him in his room, he shared stories of his hometown in Canada. He lived in a house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. He told me that his family was the last to get anything, but a phone. “In those days, they had party lines. I think we had 16 lines on our phone. Everybody knew everyone else’s business,” Ronnie shared. I am old enough to know what a party line is, but young enough to never experienced actually living with one!
Ronnie also shared a story a friend of his (Gene Herman) wrote about the time Ronnie had a run-in with the famous baseball player, Babe Ruth. The story was originally written 10 years ago. With Ronnie’s permission I have reprinted it below.
SAUGUS MAN ONCE GOT BABE RUTH’S DANDER UP
To some of his friends Ron Muir is known as “The Babe.”
The nickname came about not because he was the youngest of five siblings of Jim and Emma Muir of Halifax (although he was). It was bestowed on him because of a somewhat confrontational encounter the Saugus resident had with the real “Babe,” the one and only George Herman Ruth, Jr., some 66 years ago.
The two crossed paths at the Novascotian Hotel in Halifax one day in 1942. Muir, then 16, was employed by the hosterly as a bellboy. The King of Swat who was retired from baseball, was visiting the hotel to deliver an inspirational speech to a group of Canadian sports enthusiasts.
Muir remembered the encounter this way. Ruth picked up the telephone in his fifth floor hotel room early in the morning and asked the front desk to send up a bellboy. Muir was on standby and he jumped at the assignment.
When Muir arrived at Ruth’s room, the baseball great asked him if the laundry and dry cleaner in the hotel could wash two shirts and clean a pair of pants and have them back to him before his speech at 6 P.M.
“l told him that our cleaning establishment was extremely efficient and it should only be a few hours before they would be returned to him,” Muir recalled. “I took the clothes to the laundry and cleaning people and told them it was a rush job.”
The youngster then finished the balance of the first leg of the split shift he as working and went home. When he returned to duty for the second half of his shift shortly before 6 P.M. the bell captain was waiting for him. He told him that Ruth wanted to see him immediately.
“When I went to his room, he was wearing a pair of white boxer shorts and he as hopping mad.” said Muir. “He said you little red-headed b—— you said I’d get my clothes back in plenty of time for my speech. But I haven’t. You better locate them right away.”
Shaking from the dressing down, Muir checked with the laundry and cleaning people and was told another bellboy picked up the clothes and delivered them.
Apparently, Muir figured, the clothing was dropped of at the wrong room. He raced all over Ruth’s floor, knocking on doors and asking occupants if they had received a delivery of clothes that was not theirs. No one had. When no one answered the door at a room, Muir used his pass key to enter and search the room.
Finally, minutes before Ruth’s 6 P.M. deadline, Muir found the missing items in an unoccupied room.
“I returned the clothes to Ruth, but he still wasn’t happy,” Muir said. “He hardly thanked me and he gave me a meager tip. I think it was a quarter.”
These days, Muir, 82, a personable man with a keen sense of humor, and his wife, Dotty, split their time between their home in Saugus and their condominium in Naples, Fla. The couple who are parents of two, grandparents of two and great-grandparents of like number, are rabid Red Sox fans. But Muir wasn’t always a fan of the game. It seems he had other things in mind as a teenager, and they didn’t have anything to do with watching men play ball in flannel pants.
“I knew Babe Ruth was a famous athlete, but I wasn’t excited about meeting him because I didn’t follow baseball much when I was a kid,” said the octogenarian whose balding head long ago shed the red locks that drew the Hall of Fame player’s attention.
“I was more interested in meeting girls than ball players at that time,” he laughed.
After I read the story, Ronnie explained that the confrontation with the Great Bambino had been pretty upsetting. Apparently the language the legendary baseball player used was much more vulgar than he typically heard in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Ronnie and I spent a lot of time together. I asked him about how he and his wife, Dottie, met and how they ended up in the States, since they were both from Canada. (Although Canadian, Ronnie served in the United States Army during the Korean War.) I asked him tons of questions, but one of the things I am always interested in knowing is what he thought about air conditioning (my favorite invention, which you can read about here). “I thought it was terrific,” he said. Although he admitted he only had window units for a good part of his adult life.
Ronnie heads south for the winter and we typically only visit once a year, so I am not sure when I will get back to see him again. As we were getting ready to leave, Ronnie said he was going to miss me. That melted my heart! I am going to miss him, too. Now, not only will I be looking forward to visiting Massachusetts to see Bobby’s family annually, but I will enjoy stepping back in time with Ronnie Muir. Who knows what else I’ll discover because he has so many wonderful stories to share … if you are willing to listen, which I am!