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Bedford's pie lady to be parade grand marshal

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Event will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m.

By John Barnhart

    Ruth Crouch has been the manager at D. Reynolds for 32 years, but she's known about Bedford as the pie lady. As a sideline, she bakes pies to order.

    “I made six this morning before I came to work,” she said when interviewed the day before Thanksgiving. 

    All told, she's baked 220 this year. That includes more than 40 for Main Street United Methodist Church's bake sales in July and August. Each year she contributes at least 40 for this fundraising event.

    Saturday, she'll be the grand marshal for Bedford's Christmas parade.

    Crouch's family brought her to Bedford when she was in third grade. She grew up here and remembers coming to Bedford's Christmas parade as a child. The family would stand on the sidewalk either across from St. John's Episcopal Church or on North Bridge Street.

    “The streets would be just crowded with people,” she said.

    The parade was a big deal for children. Adults liked it, too, as the kick-off for the Christmas season.

    Crouch said that there were many floats. Churches and local organizations would enter them and prizes were awarded.

    Now 71, Crouch is also noted for knowing a lot about local history. She also has pieces of it.

    When she was in high school, she had an after-school job with Updike & Stevens, a grocery store. The store owner had developed a device that allowed them to make hamburger patties. They would take an ice cream scoop of hamburger, put it in the simple device and squeeze. The result were patties that were of a uniform size and weight. When the store closed, she was given the device.

     Later, she worked locally for for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company until it transferred the operations of its Bedford office to Roanoke. She was a telephone operator.

    “We had to plug a cord in to connect them,” she said.

    Crouch worked at a switchboard and cords were manually plugged in to make connections. The switchboard was on the upper floor of the building, with white columns, next to the Burks-Scott building. The lower floor was a bank back then, 50 years ago. When the facility closed, she was given some pieces of equipment as a souvenir.