“I’m still young at heart” 

Ruth Jackson sitting in the common room of the Brookdale assisted living home and full of birthday cheer
Photo by QUINN STODDARD of Keizertimes

Born in Salem on June 14, 1924 and raised in Rainier (Ore.), Ruth Jackson has lived a life worth writing about. 

She lived through the Great Depression happily, entered the workforce and proved that love is truly blind. 

She helped manage a business for over 40 years between multiple cities and raised a family. 

She voted for Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 for the first time where she helped Rooselvet, the incumbent for almost a decade, beat Republican Thomas Dewey. 

Ruth Evelyn Jackson (born Ruth Smith), daughter of William B. Smith had a brother, Bob Smith and a sister, Betty Brooks. 

She saw the Depression first hand, where she lived in a tent with her family after her father had lost his job at a lumber mill in Rainier. 

“Rainier was our home but then the Depression came and my dad lost his job, that’s when you go picking fruit,” Ruth said. 

Common in Oregon during that time, the Great Depression caused a plethora of mills, mines and factories to shut down around the state, resulting in many losing their way to earn and subsequently their homes. 

This caused a number of homeless communities to spring up, sometimes called Hoovervilles, where families who worked the fields picking beans, fruits and performing other farm duties, lived in tents or hastily constructed homes. 

Ruth’s father, William, was in much the same situation according to Ruth, explaining how he lost his job when the local lumber mill in Rainier shut down. 

Ruth recalled how at one campsite an aggressive bull was penned up nearby which gave her nightmares. 

She worried that, by living and cooking in a tent, she and her family were exposed to a sudden rampage from the animal, noting how the farm staff even had to refuse entrance to one woman who entered the area wearing a red dress, describing how the color red aggravated the animal. 

Despite having experienced some of the harshest effects of the Depression, Ruth spoke warmly about her childhood describing how she and her siblings never suffered. 

“I always had plenty to eat so we didn’t know the difference,” Ruth said. 

One luxury she did mention her family having was a car, though she was unable to remember exactly what kind of vehicle it was. 

What she did remember was how the vehicle, after traveling, would need water poured into it to help in cooling as well as its reliability. 

“My dad had to have a good car for traveling, when the mill shut down in Rainier, he went to pick fruit for farms around Oregon.” 

“That’s what people did, so you had to have a pretty good car to travel,” Ruth said. 

Ruth did not go to high school but instead began working at the age of 12 as a nanny for another family. 

After being a nanny for several years she became a waitress in Portland, at a restaurant called Monte’s on Broadway Street, where she met her future husband, Carl Jackson. 

They met while she was at work and, once introduced by a mutual friend, spoke to one another more often. 

After some time, their relationship grew into love based on the letters they would write to each other. 

Ruth has traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest visiting her aunt Millie in California or her brother in Washington, though she stated her favorite state was still Oregon. 

Settling in North Bend with husband Carl, the two started their family having three boys, David, Larry and Bill. 

While living there, the couple worked tirelessly together to start their own business, Taylor’s Upholstery, where they focused on creating and refurbishing home furniture. 

Needing a change of scenery as well as to avoid the colder coastal weather, the Jackson crew packed up their North Bend location and traveled to the warmer climes of a more inland city, Keizer. 

Arriving in 1978, several years before the now 15th-largest Oregon city became so, they settled into Keizer. 

Once there, the enterprising couple had a grand reopening for Taylor’s Upholstering with a brand new location, the family garage. 

The business even earned a spot in the July edition of the Keizertimes, a story that ran in 1981, according to Larry Jackson, Ruth’s son. 

Unfortunately, the current owners of Keizertimes, the Zaitzs, came into possession of the business in 1987, several years after the story ran, making finding the original piece difficult as of press time. 

Ruth described how her favorite reason for living and staying in Keizer revolves around the small town feel it has, regardless of the growth it is experiencing. 

“I’m used to North Bend, to smaller towns, so [Keizer] fits.”

Ruth, after June 14, will be the first person to become a centenarian in her family. 

When asked how she feels reaching centenarian status, Ruth said “Well, I’m still young at heart.” 

She explained how she reached this age as a product of eating and living healthy, her faith and her family. Ruth noted though that developing those healthy habits took time. 

“I learned how to take care of myself to eat the right thing,” Ruth said. Her son Larry quickly responded that it “didn’t start out that way though. I remember the hamburgers with the gravy.” 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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