By Buffy Calvert

June and Melvin Ruff, who celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2016, sit in their comfortable, classic farm house on Main Street in Andes. They remember Mel’s many, many years as a 6-day-a-week Postal Service driver whose clients along his route couldn’t imagine how they were going to get along without him when he retired. I remind them that I’ve heard that June used to be the Go-To person for a delicious, tender wedding cake, artfully decorated, incredibly tiered, and delivered by hand. “Oh that was when the children, Jeff and Jennifer, were little,” June remarks, “I did it for about 10 years.”

Then she and Linda Van Keuren teamed up as the Paper Dolls. The partners expertly painted and wallpapered a great many Andes homes. I can attest that the rooms in my home, transformed by these two professionals, working harmoniously together with cheer and scrupulous care over 20 years ago, created such magic on the walls that they are still perfect!

Linda moved to Florida. June closed the Paper Dolls in 2015. Mel had retired 3 years before.

Time to be idle, right? No! The Ruffs set up tables and matching red umbrellas on their deep lawn. From mid-July to mid-September, baskets tipped up at an angle spill just-picked corn (collected by Mel in early-morning trips around the countryside.) Red, ripe tomatoes fresh from their garden lure in folks all Summer; in the Fall, heaps of pumpkins abound from Munchkin size to giant. One day a fellow followed Mel back from his secret source of supply and helped unload the heavy cargo. “A nice surprise!”

And what’s in the cooler? Pies! Snack size and full, apple and berry. June has been up since 5 am to bring each bubbling pan from the oven. (She confesses she has to clean her oven quite often since she heaps the berries too high.)

   “It’s a lot of work,” she admits, requiring pre-planning for pans and carriers and carefully chosen ingredients. She has crucial and much-appreciated help from son Jeff, a former chef, who knows quality, quantity, and tricks of the trade. Once a woman from Arizona helped out during a busy season. “Nice to have help from someone who knows what she’s doing,” June comments.

Imagine peeling and slicing 5 bushels of apples, sprinkling them with lemon and layering them in the freezer. “Thank heaven for the electric peeler and slicer!” June purrs.

Thank heaven for Mel and June Ruff who are sharing their expertise and energy with our lucky community. ~