Monday, June 2, 2008

Ruth Vogel - Supergirl!

Boston Daily Globe March 12, 1922

Boston's Perfect Schoolgirl

Ruth Vogel Wins First Prize in Competition for Poise -- Just a Normal Girl, Her Parents Say, Except That She Likes to Wash Dishes

With the exception of adoring to wash dishes and disliking fish, also oysters, Ruth Vogel has in all her 15 years of life been just a normal healthy girl.

This must be said in the first breath because Prof and Mrs Frank Vogel want so much to have it understood that their little girl is simple and natural. Ruth is a student at the Girls' Latin School and has two more years to go.

Ruth won the first prize in the first competition for poise in Boston schools last week.

Twenty-four girls took part in the competition as representatives of 16 High Schools, each girl being chosen from every 500 pupils in the school. The final stunts included walking, standing, marching, sitting and getting up, running, climbing stairs and severe physical tests.

Judges, the best in the physical culture world, eliminated entries until Ruth stood unexcelled, Ruth, the best-poised of Boston school girls.

Way Any Child Should be Brought Up



That's what so many have been wondering. But Prof and Mrs Vogel treasure the normalcy of childhood so much they declined to assist in making a to-do about the award and firmly refused interviews. (Making the Globe feel rather exclusive with this, the only one.)

Tuesday morning, the day of the competition, Ruth mentioned carelessly that there was going to be "some kind of a thing going on" at school in the afternoon. That's all any one at her home, 95 Robinwood av, Jamaica Plain, knew about it.

When she returned she brought the posture winner's certificate with her, and according to her mother "was so extraordinarily overwhelmed that she began jumping up and down the minute she got inside the door."

Ruth knew she was going to take part in a competition drill, but as for winning - the idea had never entered her head.

Ruth has never consciously done anything to get perfect poise, her father says.

They what about her home life? Ruth's mother insists it is quite ordinary and certainly nothing more than the way any child should be brought up.

Things That Have Helped

Mrs Vogel, mother, said that, yes, when Ruth was a baby she rubbed the little back every night before putting her to bed. She did it with all the children.

"Is it more than every mother does?" she asked. Perhaps it isn't, but it is one thing that gives a key to the theme of the story - "a military regime with Mrs Vogel as commander-in-chief, always," quoting Prof Vogel.

Is it every family who sleeps right outdoors Winter and Summer, snowdrifts, below zero or sleet?

Or who has informal gymnastics now and then.

Or who takes breathing exercises night and morning, "common breathing exercises," said Prof Vogel, illustrating, as much to say, "Why, what every one does, don't you know?"

Ruth has been brought up like that. Is it every family who is "all in bed" at 10 o'clock at night? Ruth's bedtime begins at 9:15.

The family does not drink tea or coffee, either. Ruth doesn't know what they taste like. Frank junior, who is a chemistry student at Tech, where his father is a professor, is beginning to drink coffee, however. He is quite a modern young man, anyway.

No rules have been laid down to Ruth about posture. But there are a number of things which might count as "influences."

Inherited Poise

First, Ruth's ancestry was pretty fine. Her father's father, George, was in the Regular Army from 1852 to '57. He took to chasing Indians and then went into the Civil war for two years. He is the author of a book of his experiences in the land beyond the Mississipppi before any railway had got there. He had traveled every State and territory on horseback.

"Ruth is probably the exact opposite of her father," said her father. "I've liked to bend too much over books, I like to slump in my chair." (Don't be really deceived. Mr Vogel is a tall and splendid looking man). He continued: sits straight up. I've never seen her lean back.

"There's Ruth's mother. Her back is as straight as a ramrod... Isn't your back straight as a broomstick?" asked Prof Vogel, when his wife came in later. And Mrs Vogel fluttered her hands and look discomfited and demure, just like the dear commanderette-in-chief she undoubtedly is.

About this time it was settled that Ruth's grandparents gave Ruth an inheritance of poise.

"Yes, Ruth's straight as an Indian," commented Ruth's father.

"But she isn't an Indian," commented Ruth's mother and there seemed to be a kindly electric message waving through the air. So we asked if Ruth liked sewing.

Leader in Girl Scouts

That's when we learned Ruth liked washing dishes.

Something else strikes us as interesting. Ruth will ofter get up before the rest of the family are awake so she may creep downstairs and prepare breakfast, time about 6 o'clock. Ruth likes all kinds of housework. She likes darning stockings!

Her outdoor activities take up two hours every day and in the Summer time she's outdoors all the time, running, playing, rowing a boat, tramping or swimming. She took to the water when she was 2 and 3 years old and she spends a great deal of time in it during the months when she is with the family on vacation at a camp or farm.

One of Ruth's Winter sports is shovelling snow. She and her brother take turns at it.

Ever since she was old enough she has been active in the Girl Scouts and is now a leader of a troop at her school.

So with her musical talent, which has been trained from childhood by her mother. When she was a baby her mother says she would sway and dance and balance spontaneously to a tune. The rhythm and the grace seemed right in her and her interpretations were charming. Now she plays the piano, sings well and can also play the violin.

Watched Brother at Drill

Healthy as a day of sunshine, Ruth has never had even the string of child diseases. With her health has grown up an exuberance and enjoyment of life. She has initiative, an admirable capacity for concentration and a will power.

"She does whatever she sets out to do," her father says, "and I suppose she has always wanted to stand straight."

One little thing was almost skipped over. Frank Jr was practicing for drill when he was 14 years old and going to the Boys' Latin School. His little sister - Bertha, now in her last year at the Girls' Latin School, and Ruth - watched him practice the drill at home and child-like wanted to drill also. He showed them how, and they practiced together.

Frank was awarded first prize in the individual drill that year What sort of impression do you suppose that made on a little girl named Ruth?

Was it an inspiration for a young lady's 5 feet 8 of perfect balance?

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