Ed Grisamore

THE REINDEER GANG: Macon woman in need of oven, washing machine

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Reindeer Gang is an annual holiday feature that identifies individuals and families with needs. Donations to Ruth Prince can be made through Rebuilding Macon Inc., 3864 Lake Street, Macon, GA 31204. (478-744-9808)

There is no telling how many casseroles, cakes and pies Ruth Prince has baked over the years.

The 94-year-old Macon woman has put on an apron and set her oven at 350 degrees more times than you can shake a spoon at, the aromas filling her home in a south Macon neighborhood not far from Houston Avenue.

She bought a Roper oven in 1977, two years before her husband, Ralph, died. Then, about a year ago, the oven broke and could not be fixed.

As a widow living on a fixed income, she could not afford to replace it. She still has her stove, but she has missed having an oven.

Three weeks ago, another major appliance on the opposite side of the kitchen, also went out. Her Whirlpool washing machine, purchased in 1997, showed no signs of life.

Prince admitted she does not enjoy doing laundry nearly as much as cooking, but a washing machine is almost a necessity.

“I looked in the phone book for a laundromat, but I’ve just been washing my clothes in the sink,” she said.

She called Debra Rollins, executive director of Rebuilding Macon, which rehabilitates the houses of low-income homeowners and focuses on those who are elderly or disabled. Rebuilding Macon has made repairs to Prince’s house in the past.

She asked Rollins if there was a washing machine or oven at the warehouses. Those appliances were not available, so Rollins submitted Prince’s name to the Reindeer Gang, an annual series in The Telegraph that allows readers to help those in need at Christmas.

“I have been without the oven for a long time, but when my washing machine went out, I asked the Lord to send me one,” Prince said. “I believe in prayer. When Debra (Rollins) called, it was like the answer to a prayer.”

Prince grew up in Fort Valley. In 1943, she married her husband, who worked as a welder for Central Georgia Railroad.

In 1947, they moved into the house where she still lives. It was in a quiet neighborhood of working-class families. Her daughters, Pat and Linda, could walk to school at Charles H. Bruce Elementary. She still has the piano both girls learned to play in her living room.

Although she lives alone, Prince finds plenty to keep her busy. She gets her exercise by walking to the end of her street twice a day. She loves to play the jumbo word search games she buys at the dollar store.

Rollins said Prince is “very deserving and appreciative” of any help readers of the Reindeer Gang might give her.

“She is a joy to work with on taking care of her home,” Rollins said. “She is the perfect example of a wonderful homeowner who has worked hard to maintain and treasure her home. She always has the sweetest attitude and outlook on life. She loves and appreciates her home and neighbors. They love her, too.”