Celebrating centenarians

Ladysmith writers Char Lovely (left) and Ruth Ralston hold the December 2019 issue of The Writers’ Exchange, a monthly anthology of local authors.

A pair of Ladysmith writers are celebrating a century.

Ruth Ralston will celebrate her 100th birthday on Dec. 31. Char Lovely turned 100 on Nov. 10.

Both are active members in the Writer’s Exchange, a local writing group that meets regularly to promote the art and spirit of writing and to share literary ideas and expressions. Their goal is to stimulate and encourage writing, consider publication opportunities and to contribute to the community arts.

Their work continues to be published in the group’s monthly anthology, The Writers’ Exchange.

“I think I have been involved almost since the beginning,” Lovely said.

Ralston calls herself an “instigator” who, along with Ladysmith area resident Bill Fucik, helped found the group in 2006.

She started writing when in the third grade and received a prize in the fourth grade from a newspaper for writing a poem about an Easter egg.  Then nothing much until high school.  She started the great American novel when she was 12, but gave it up after three pages. She has since written a book entitled, Maharajas, Monkeys and Mangoes, covering the years of 1919 to 1929 when her parents were Presbyterian missionaries in Miraj and Vengurla, Maharashtra, India.

“We were meeting in my home for a while and then we decided to start meeting in a regular place,” said Ralston, who was born in India.

Lovely considers herself an “ordinary” writer.

“She’s got the good backbone of the country,” Ralston said of her fellow writer, Lovely. “She’s a good mid-easterner.”

“I just celebrated my 100th birthday. That is what I am famous for,” Lovely said. “I just celebrated it.”

A small gathering is planned for Ralston in the social room of her church. “Nothing fancy,” she said.

Ralston is surprised by the longevity of the Writers’ Exchange

“I never dreamed it would last this long. We haven’t missed one issue. Every month of every year we have put an edition out,” she said.

She credited Fucik for making the group go.

Lovely celebrated her 100th birthday at the Old Chicago Club near Hayward.

Ralston remains involved in the group out of habit. Being a member forces her to write and produce something to share at monthly meetings.

“I have been her all these years. I might as well keep on,” said Ralston, who once was editor of the group’s publication

 Lovely called it “a wonderful group.”

“I just enjoy the group. I enjoy writing, and I like listening to what others write. It keeps me doing something,” Lovely said. “It is a good excuse to get together and enjoy each others’ company.”

Ralston believes all writing, in general, has a common core through the perception of people or the environment. How this is expressed may have changed over the decades, she said.  

“The language of writers years ago used, shall I say, dictionary words, cultural elite.  Even the “westerns” described the landscape in glowing terms, and their cussing was more of ‘you mean yellow hearted son of a coyote’ than the overuse of terms now used,” Ralston said. “Present novels now seem to need to add sexual exploits in every book.  Fifty years ago a writer could simply say, ‘He gave her a meaningful look as he led her to their room and shut the door.’”

“No further description necessary,” Ralston said.

Ralston called the original concept of The Writers’ Exchange was to encourage people to write.

“We want to get as many people involved in writing as we can,” Ralston said.

The group doesn’t pay writers. Membership is voluntary. Subscriptions are available to the group’s monthly anthology magazine.

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