My parents, Ruth B. Strange and Troy James Smith, met at NW Missouri State Teachers College in Maryville, Missouri in 1934. This campus is now part of the Missouri university system and has grown considerably. When I walked the campus yesterday I had the strong impression of my parents walking the same paths, moving in and out of the buildings, going to dances, classes, football games, studying. My overwhelming feelings were ones of sadness; I wished that as a kid they had brought us here to see where they met but they didn’t.
I stopped at the Alumni House first and was greeted warmly by Haley and by Lynn Ruhl. We looked in the ’34, ’35 and ’36 year books and found mom and dad’s pictures on numerous pages. Mom was in the honor society of the School of Business and Economics (few woman in that field!) and a sorority. Dad was in the Industrial Arts Club, and the M Club–for athletes who lettered in football, basketball, or track.
Roberta Hall was built in the 1920’s and still houses women students. The universtiy archivist, Cathy Palmer, provided me with numerous clips detailing the activities my parents enjoyed. An article dated May 25, 1934 says, “…Ruth Strange and James Smith…” attended the Tri Sigma annual Spring Dance at the Elks Club. The room was decorated in the colors of the sorority–purple and white..
Later as their romance progressed, they took the Wabash (Remember the song “The Wabash Cannon Ball”?) home. Mom’s youngest sister, Bette, still in high school remembers that “Jimmy was all Ruth could think about.” I believe that remained the case all her life.