Jackie Ruhnow


“Grandma Ruhnow”
Words and music by Doug Ruhnow
with Mrs. Christensen’s 4th Grade Class
©2004 Doug Ruhnow


      Jackie Ruhnow

This is a story about Jacqueline Ruhnow,
A South Dakota native through and through
Born at the Victor Place just outside of Sturgis;
The middle sister with a brother, too
Living on a farm with chickens and some cows for milking,
Selling eggs and cream just to get by
Life was never easy for families on the prairie,
But the memories are fresh as apple pie.

Music and art keep her going…
Whenever ill winds come a’blowing
Painting mountains and lakes put a smile upon her face;
The love in her heart just keeps on growing.

The simple life for country hicks was anything but simple;
Lots of work with little time to play
No telephone, no indoor plumbing, no electric lights,
No money for the things kids have today
Off to school with spelling bees, played guitar at recess,
But painting was her favorite thing to do
Life was never simple for kids in one-room schools,
But looking back the years just up and flew.

Music and art keep her going…
Whenever ill winds come a’blowing
Painting mountains and lakes put a smile upon her face;
The love in her heart just keeps on growing.

Somehow she made it through those high school years,
Braving all kinds of stormy weather
Along came a good-looking man named Bill;
They got married and he changed her life forever

She left the prairie for a while and moved to Chicago,
Adding three boys along the way
But city life was not her cup of tea, she decided;
And moved back to Sturgis one fine day
Raising boys and working nine to five kept her busy,
But they all learned to laugh along the way
Life was never boring with three boys and a husband;
It’s enough to make you prematurely gray.

Now her kids are scattered ‘ clear across the country,
Raising some families of their own
And it sure is nice every once in a while ‘
To see how much those grandkids have grown
Somewhere along the way she became a Foster Grandma
Teaching kids to read and so much more
Life is always special when you read with Grandma Ruhnow;
There’s love when you open up her door.

Music and art keep her going…
Whenever ill winds come a’blowing
Painting mountains and lakes put a smile upon her face;
The love in her heart just keeps on growing
Painting mountains and lakes put a smile upon her face;
The love in her heart just keeps on growing
The love in her heart just keeps on growing.


My name is Jacqueline Rose Ruhnow. When I was born, my mother didn’t give me a middle name. At the age of 9, I asked my mother for a middle name and she said, “What would you like your middle name to be?” I chose Rose because that was my favorite flower. Now I have a middle name, Rose.

I was born in Sturgis, SD, on November 9th, 1930 at the Victor place, which is north of Sturgis. Yes, I am 73 years old.

I have 1 brother and 2 sisters. Yes, we had our spats, but my older sister showed me the ropes and my little sister and brother were fun to play with. We liked to tease my little brother. We told him raisins were bugs, and to this day he doesn’t eat raisins.

I was the middle child and I often felt that I was picked on the most. When my parents would go to town, my sisters and brother would pick on me. So, when my parents left the farm, I would swing my hand as a windmill and bop them on the head if they came towards me. They did back off when I put my hand in a windmill swing!

In school, Mrs. Reber is the one who got me interested in art and music. I learned to love art and painting which has been a lifelong hobby and pastime for me.

One of my favorite childhood memories is when my sister, Pati, and my best friend, Dorothy, and I would play the guitar together. I remember playing for the High School Homecoming Dance. We wore our first formals and played and sang songs such as “Moonlight on the River Colorado”, “When it is Night Time in Nevada”, and my sister yodeled.

Before I was born, my dad fought in WWI. My dad was helping get supplies to the front line. His troop had to stay over night and so they slept in a cave. While they were sleeping, the Germans sprayed mustard gas in the cave and my dad was the only one alive.

He lived because he was sleeping at the mouth of the cave where there was more fresh air. The mustard gas temporarily blinded him and he walked back to his unit by feeling the sun on his back and the railroad ties beneath his feet.

My greatest accomplishment in life is my family. I have three gifted sons‐Bruce, Warren and Doug. They are all 18 months apart to the day. I also have 12 wonderful grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Christmas time kind of cleans out my pocketbook. ☺

The best advice I can offer you is:

Every child has a gift. Every child has a talent.
Every effort is important! Learn, learn, learn all you can!


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