Celebrating 90 years: Lone Grove resident shares her adventures from the past nine decades
Iris Pruitt of Lone Grove will be turning 90 years old on Saturday, June 19. Born in Illinois, Pruitt moved with her family to Oklahoma in 1940, and she graduated from Bethany High School in 1949. She first moved to Southern Oklahoma shortly after marrying her late husband, Ted Pruitt, in 1950.
“When we got married, we’d known each other for three months,” Pruitt said. “Everyone was telling me that it wouldn’t last and that we didn’t know each other well enough. Well, we were just married for 64 years.”
The couple had four children, three daughters and a son. Mr. Pruitt owned a TV repair business located on North Washington.
Pruitt said she remembers being able to smell the onions from Hamburger Inn cooking all over downtown.
“Back in the 50s and 60s there must have been five or six TV repair shops in town,” she said. “We had a really good business. His slogan was ‘TV dead call Ted.’”
Pruitt said one of her family’s favorite activities was spending time at Lake Murray. In fact, in the early 1960s, the Pruitts were the first family to ever float a pontoon boat on its waters. Her husband had built his own using 50 gallon barrels after she had seen an advertisement for something similar in a Sears catalog.
“People were telling us that we were fixing to drown our family and that it would never float,” she said. “They’d never seen anything like it.”
She said the first time they took it out, people took notice of the large boat driving down Highway 70 heading towards the lake.
“That was a two lane highway at the time, and there was a whole string of cars following it,” Pruitt said. “They really wanted to see where it was going, and by they time we got down there, there must have been 100 cars. I was so far back and so late getting there, by the time I made it Ted and our friend were already out on the water. He came back, and we went for a ride. We ended up having lots and lots of fun on that boat.”
In the late 1960s, the family moved to Colorado Springs where Mr. Pruitt took a job helping to install television lines in the early days of cable TV. This position took the family to Florida, Arizona and Alabama. However, all of the moving and time on the road lost its appeal, and the family relocated to Liberal, Kan. where they opened a restaurant.
“I always told him that I’d follow him anywhere but Liberal, Kansas or Texas,” Pruitt said. “My sister lived there, and at that time it was a very small community. They’d roll up the streets every day at 5 (p.m.), and you wouldn’t be able to get some much as a quart of milk. They closed up everything.”
Mr. Pruitt had received a tip from other family members in Liberal, Kan. of a good location for a potential restaurant. He visited to scout out the location.
“He called me up me up from there, and he said I think we really need to do this,” Pruitt said. “I said, in Liberal, Kansas? He said yes, but that it was too good to pass up. So we did, and it was wonderful. We had a booming business.”
Pruitt said she enjoyed her time in Liberal, as the community had grown since the last time she had visited. As the restaurant’s popularity grew, they ended up building on a new room and tripling the size. However, the building’s owner eventually decided to raise the rent, and the family ultimately decided to close the restaurant and relocate to — you guessed it — Texas.
“I had always said I never wanted to live in Texas, but we ended up moving to Canyon, (Texas),” she said. “it’s a nice college town, and we bought a really nice house.”
After spending some time in Texas, the family decided to move back to Lone Grove in 1979 to help care for Mr. Pruitt’s aging mother. They built a home on Meridian Road, and there she resides to this day.
“One of the biggest differences between now and then is the road,” Pruitt said. “When we first moved here that road wasn’t paved, and you just tried to stay out of the ruts. You didn’t want to get in them because you’d end up having to get pulled out.”
Iris Pruitt will be receiving guests at the family home this Saturday, June 19, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. She requests no gifts, only good company.