Archive the Photo AND Tell the Story: Ruby

by Kim on September 8, 2009

Ruby and Tim before my mother was born.

Ruby and Tim before my mother was born.

My mother at 6 months old - just weeks before the train robbery.

My mother at 6 months old - just weeks before the train robbery.

As the story goes, my grandmother robbed a train. My grandfather found out that she had a boyfriend and told her that she needed to leave town. She was a mother of four – youngest child was six months old. So off she went with the boyfriend and the nursing baby (my mother). She was on her way out of town and she helped rob a train. She was convicted and sentenced for 4 years and my mother was put in an orphanage.

The mountains of Tennessee had no phone and little outside communication in 1924, so it took six months for my grandfather to hear of the news. He found out where the orphanage was that housed my mother, and traveled with his sister to help with the baby and the boys. My grandfather Tim Campbell taught in a one-room schoolhouse and raised these children through the Depression all on his own.

My mom called her mother “Ruby” and had little communication with her in her life. I only saw my grandmother two times before she died. I met her when I was in eighth grade and then went to her apartment in Washington, D.C. when I was 25 to visit with her a second time.

I wanted to ask two questions: 1) How do you rob a train really? and 2) How could you leave your children behind?

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