South county woman, 94, dines with children she baby-sat 80 years ago in South St. Louis

Bill Milligan photo
Herbert Eberle and his sister Gertrude Kedro visit with 94-year-old Ruth Vogel, seated, who baby-sat for them 80 years ago.

Bill Milligan photo Herbert Eberle and his sister Gertrude Kedro visit with 94-year-old Ruth Vogel, seated, who baby-sat for them 80 years ago.

By Bill Milligan

A 94-year-old south county woman dined last week with two children she baby-sat when she was a 14-year-old living in South St. Louis.

Bethesda Terrace resident Ruth Vogel talked between bites of salad Jan. 29 about Gertrude Kedro, 80, and Herbert Eberle, 76, the two children she baby-sat 80 years ago in her Wellston Town neighborhood.

“I loved them very much,” Ruth recalled of the pair as the staff at the independent living community took her lunch order. “They were cute.”

She was their baby-sitter in 1932 when Gertrude was born, and five years later when Gertrude’s brother Herb was born.

Ruth, whose maiden name is Johnson, remembers those times 80 years ago just like yesterday and shared some of those memories over lunch.

Ruth recalled that when Gertrude’s mother delivered Herb, she wanted her daughter to meet him.

“She (Gertrude) took one look at him and said, ‘I want to go back to the Johnsons,'” Ruth said.

Herb recalled Ruth’s father used to operate the Hodiamont Street Car line in St. Louis.

“We used to get on the cars and pull the spring mounted contact” that powered the car along the route, Herb said. “The car wouldn’t go anywhere without that connection. The driver would get mad at us.

“He’d get back in the driver’s seat and we’d do it again. We’d keep doing that until we got tired of it.”

Ruth told a story about how big Herb felt when she let him start her car when he was 14 years old.

“She had a little Crosley,” Herb said. “She let me start it all the time.”

The now-defunct auto manufacturer once owned the Cincinnati Reds and their ballpark, Crosley Field.

When the three of them get together, the conversation naturally turns to the old days and the memories they share.

“We talk about eating,” Herb said.

Ruth remembered Gertrude could “really sing. She was always so lovable.”

“We were always singing and playing at home,” Gertrude said. “There was a song we sang at church, ‘Constantly Abiding’ that I always loved.”

“You could hear her sing, too,” Ruth said. “Her nickname was ‘Mousy’ because of the shape of her ears.”