Ruth Freestone: Cycling Pioneer
The following is Ruth Freestone’s story, which was shared during PPh’s Founders’ Day on November 20, 2012.
Ruth was born at home on December 2, 1918, to Ernest and Elsie Greiner. They called her their “war baby.” Her father was a professional house painter and woodwork-stainer and her mother was a homemaker.
Ruth graduated from Kensington High School but didn’t like school very much. She loved to roller skate and her older brother was a competitive bicyclist. However, when he enlisted in the Marine Corps, his Schwinn racing bike, which had no brakes, sat idle.
One day her father said, “Somebody has to use this bike, so I guess it’s you.” She was 15 at the time.
Ruth joined the 20th Century Bike Club and began entering and winning races. After a few years, she entered the Pennsylvania State Championship and took first place for 4 consecutive years. She received many medals as prizes, which are mounted on a plaque and hang in her room. He took Ruth out at night to train. She would ride on the Roosevelt Boulevard from Oxford Circle to north of the Nabisco plant and back. He would ride behind her in a car close enough to keep the other cars away.
She says, “If I had received money for my wins like they do today, I would have spent it. I can look at the medals with pride in my accomplishments.”
Ruth met her husband Edward in high school. When he proposed marriage to her, she said, “Yes, but I don’t cook. If I’m hungry, I open a can of beans. Also, I plan to continue my bike racing career, so we can’t start a family for a while.”
That was fine with Ed. He was the oldest of 13 children and was a good cook because he helped his mother in the kitchen. They eventually had a son Eddie.
Ruth’s husband worked for Archehold Holmes as a carpet weaver for 42 years. One summer, work was slow, so the family went to Wildwood Crest to look for work. They became the managers of the Robert Stevens Hotel, which had 48 rooms and 3 apartments. It was a family affair, with Ruth doing the housekeeping, Edward, Senior, the cooking, Eddie waiting tables and even Ruth’s mother and mother-in-law helping. They managed the hotel for 13 summers until Eddie graduated college.
Ruth and Edward retired for just a little while. One day after church, they stopped into Gieger’s Bakery on Home Avenue and asked if they had any part time job openings. The owner said to be there 7 o’clock the next morning. Ruth and Edward worked for the bakery until he died.
In the mean time, Ruth didn’t stop riding her bike until she reached her 80s. Following an illness, she came to live at PPh and has never been sorry.
She says, “I am happy here. I have made PPh my home. My faith, reading scripture, daily devotions and prayer are a natural part of my day and have sustained me all of my life.”