Generations
Ruth Burraston
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Mar 27, 2014 | 784 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Burraston
Ruth Burraston
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In the back corner of Ruth Burraston’s sewing room is a sewing machine that is 100 years old. Despite all the new technology flooding the market today, the 92-year-old Burraston says she keeps sewing on the antique machine because it works better than the more modern models available today.

“I had to get the instruction book from the Smithsonian,” she said with a laugh.

Burraston grew up in Orem, Utah, when the area was still predominately family farms. She lived on a 5-acre fruit farm with her family.

“You could drive from Orem to Provo and only see five cars,” she said.

When she was 16, Burraston’s father died in an automobile accident that almost killed her mother as well. Burraston was forced to quit school to help tend to the farm and raise her younger siblings.

At 17, she married, and it wasn’t long before her first daughter was born. Six months after the birth of her first child, and with another baby on the way, her husband was killed.

Eventually, Burraston married again. The couple had four more children, but then her husband died, leaving her widowed for a second time.

“I decided that God didn’t want me to be married,” she said.

Burraston decided to concentrate on taking care of her children. After taking a job outside of her home for about a year, one of Burraston’s friends asked why she didn’t just sew from home.

Sewing has always been a way of life for Burraston.

“My mother was a man’s tailor, and my sister is a dressmaker,” she said. “I do it all.”

Over the years, Burraston has done a little bit of everything. She has made dresses, hemmed suits, taught others how to sew, and even created props for the movies.

“They came in one time and asked me to make a dummy for a movie,” she said. “I had my daughter-in-law lay on the floor and traced her on the cloth. I used gloves for the hands, and I sewed the feet.”

While she no longer recalls the name of the movie, Burraston said the dummy, which was filled with birdseed, was dragged behind a car in the film.

Burraston moved to Moab when her youngest son had just graduated high school in 1977.

“There were a lot of drugs around Salt Lake [City] at that point, and I wanted to get him away from it,” she said. “I’ve never regretted it.”

This year, Burraston took a cruise “down to the islands.” It wasn’t the specific place that mattered to her, she said, as much as having the experience.

“People ask me why I did that,” she said. “It was on my bucket list, and I wanted to go.”

The only item that is still on her bucket list is a trip to Branson, Mo., to see the big bands play.

“I wish that today’s kids still had the chances we had,” she said. “I used to go to the dance halls and dance three nights a week.”

Although she is now in her 90s, Burraston says that age is “just a number.”

I’ve never showed my age,” she said. “I’m just kind of a kid at heart.”

For her 90th birthday, her family threw her a surprise party. “We had 102 people attend,” she said. “Now we’re just waiting for my hundredth so I can be on the Smuckers jar!”


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