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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Medford Pioneers: Clara Belle Purucker


SELLS HALF INTEREST IN BAKERY
    W. A. Todd has sold a half interest in the Medford Bakery and Delicatessen to George Purucker of Philadelphia.
    Mr. Purucker and his wife are here and will be connected with the institution beginning Monday. Mr. Todd commenced business here last July, and by giving his customers the best in his line, as well as a square deal at all times, he has built up a splendid business and now employs three bakers. Mrs. Todd has added greatly to the success to the business and her courteous treatment to customers.
    A new power dough mixer is being put in the bakery, and other improvements will be made.

Medford Sun, January 8, 1911, page 5
Clara Belle Purucker
Mean Old Cop and Stork Oppose Each Other at Miss Purucker's,
Policeman Is Apparently the Winner
    Mrs. George Purucker, the stork's best friend for many, many years, has put out her sign again on South Orange to save prospective fathers and policemen any further embarrassment. [Her home was at 106 South Orange, at the southwest corner of Eighth. It no longer survives.]
    After operating her maternity home for 23 years, Mrs. Purucker decided last summer to take a vacation. She had helped hundreds of babies into the world and thought it was time for a little rest. She took down her sign and planned a trip East. Then she broke her ankle and the trip didn't materialize. In the meantime the stork was [making] 1935 a busy year so she consented to help him again.
    But she didn't put up her sign.
    That's why a short time ago a prospective father, loitering outside her door at an early morning hour, was approached by a Medford cop, who wanted to know just why. The gentleman, who had come in from the country, tried to explain, but the policeman insisted that Mrs. Purucker just wasn't in business anymore, which brought the gentleman a greater shock than had appearance of the policeman.
    His wife, waiting in the automobile, however, was not so easily discouraged. She had come to town for a reason, and no policeman was going to scare her away, whatever the hour of the morning. She won the argument, and the policeman continued on his beat. As his car drove away, Miss Purucker, who thought she had heard a car, decided the same car was going on, and that no one wanted in. She went back to sleep. At six o'clock, when the doors were opened, the prospective parents were seen still sitting in their auto.
    "And the strangest thing about it all is," Mrs. Purucker declared yesterday, "Little 1936 hasn't arrived yet."

Medford News, January 15, 1936, page 1

Mrs. George Purucker
Closes Valiant Career as Baby's Best Friend
    "It was wonderful work. I would like to do it all over again." With these words, Mrs. George "Auntie" Purucker, who has helped just exactly 1800 babies "out of the nowhere, into the here," last Saturday summed up the 25 years she has spent as chief assistant to the Jackson County stork, 18 of them in operating the Purucker Maternity Home on South Orange Street in Medford.
    The statement was an announcement of her retirement from the career, which she began at the age of 50. "I asked for 25 years of service," she explained. "I have been given more than that. I am in my seventy-sixth year." And then she laughed, but there was a huskiness in the voice which has soothed away the pains and troubles of a brand-new world for hundreds of little babies and brought comfort and assurance to as many mothers--"all through the night."
    Winston Mathew, now practicing law in San Francisco, was her first in Jackson County. Loren Edward Leach, 5 months, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Leach, of Route 2, she claims as her last.
    She wouldn't say Saturday how many of them were well into the world and cozy in warm blankets when the attending physician arrived, but she did tell of some interesting races, won by the stork.
    "I do hate to give them up," she admitted, speaking of her babies, "but I have a new profession, and I still have one baby."
    Mrs. Purucker has converted her maternity home into a boarding house and she now has six boarders, not counting the youngest one, who is just eight months old.
    She has no understanding of people who ask for pensions at 65, for she is one of that old school of Spartan women for whom only death will really spell
retirement.
    "I can always find something to do. THEY don't really think I should do THIS," she was referred to her family and friends. "But I wouldn't be happy if I couldn't do something. I love to cook, and they are such nice people." (She meant her newly secured boarders.) "And I don't have to stay up nights anymore. But I do miss my babies," she added again, and this time the warm and so friendly bosom, which has cradled many a sick one on through a foreboding night into a morning filled with the promise of life, quivered for just a second.
    Asked how she can ALWAYS tell what a baby should have to eat (for hun
dreds of valley mothers, who have beaten a path to her door with crying, colicky babies in their arms, testify that she can ALWAYS tell), Mrs. Purucker laughed. "I just look at them," she answered. "The baby business is natural with me. They say I was born for it. My grandmother was a midwife in the old days. I could tell you some funny stories about the feeding of babies, but I guess I'd better not."
    She didn't need to, for few are the people who haven't heard of the babes brought back to normalcy on some concoction of "Auntie Purucker's," which the attending physician was sure would kill the infant. They tell of one to whom she fed thick cereal while the physician gasped and predicted death, only to remark months later to a sturdy, growing specimen, "So you're the baby I thought Mrs. Purucker was going to kill!"
    How many, like this one, came into her arms crying with hunger, no one will ever know, for little babies can't talk. But it's a certainty that each one who came later snuggled down to peaceful sleep with a stomach filled with the special brand of food he craved.
    How many of these were cared for without remuneration will also never be known, for Mrs. Purucker's only answer to that question was, "I just hate to see the babies suffer. Surely there could be no better way of casting one's bread upon the waters."
    Like most people of great character, Auntie Purucker has not found life a soft proposition. It was tragedy that brought her to southern Oregon. Tragedy in the form of a nervous breakdown, which ended the brilliant career of her husband, George Purucker, M.D., back in Pennsylvania. For years he carried on in Allegheny without vacation. Then tired nerves gave way. Mrs. Purucker still sees trembling fingers, with a needle in hand, trying to sew a scalp wound. She recalls her own assumption of the job, and her resolution that this must end. "I never studied surgery," she explained. (She never studied nursing, either, at school. She learned it the natural way--doing it.)
    Vacations, change of climate, everything was tried, but health did not return to George Purucker, who refused throughout the years he lived in Medford to be known, even once, as doctor--so bitter was the disappointment in his life.
    "It was as Daddy Purucker that he came to Medford. I decided that on the train, when he said I wasn't to call him doctor," his understanding wife explained, "and it was as Daddy Purucker that he died."
    Through the years of his practice, Mrs. Purucker accompanied her husband in horse and buggy in summer, in open sleigh in winter, administering to the ill, day and night. So when she saw the necessity of a career for herself, it was only natural that she chose something in the same field. Eighteen hundred mothers of healthy children, "whole families of them," are scattered into every state of the union, living proof today that she has made the right choice.
    And now Auntie Purucker says that she has quit. Master Leach is the last to claim the honor of being born at Purucker Maternity Home. But our prediction is some dark, stormy night in spring the doorbell will ring. A little woman from up yonder in the hills, who doesn't find time to read the papers, will be blown across the threshold with no time to spare. A boarder will be asked to vacate a room while "Medford's greatest mother" hustles into her uniform, rejoicing that there is "plenty of boiling water." And then that certain cry, like which there is none other in all the world, will echo again through the house on South Oregon Street as a newborn babe demands the right to live.
Medford News, January 13, 1939, page 1


"Auntie" Purucker Honored
Upon 80th Birthday
    "It doesn't seem right to be sitting here without a baby in my arms." That's an unusual remark to be made at a Wednesday afternoon tea.
    Well, it was an unusual tea, for it honored an unusually fine person--Mrs. C. B. "Auntie" Purucker, whose name and home will always be associated with babies in the minds of all southern Oregonians who know her.
    The remark was made by Mrs. Jack Swem as she sat down in the easy rocker for a cup of tea at the Purucker home September 9th, Mrs. Purucker's eightieth birthday. The same afternoon hundreds of friends honored "Auntie" Purucker, who retired just three years ago from operating a maternity home after playing chief assistant to the stork for more than 25 years and helping into this world 1800 babies.
    In the crowd were mothers and daughters, aunts and cousins of babies, who found "Auntie" Purucker to be their very best friend upon many occasions. One of these babies, now a young man, dropped in to voice his own thanks. He was Jimmy Cave, who received one of the heartiest greetings of the day.
    Flowers filled the Purucker home for the birthday party and continued to arrive as did guests throughout the afternoon. Presiding at the beautifully arranged tea table was Mrs. Margaret Fabrick. Assisting Mrs. Purucker in receiving guests were her two daughters, Mrs. Fred Reinecke of Los Angeles and Miss Ann Purucker of Medford and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Herman Purucker of Medford. Numerous friends assisted about the rooms, eagerly accepting an opportunity to do something for one who has always done so much for others. It was the first time in Medford history that the tables had been so completely turned.
    Since officially giving up her babies (she is still unofficially aiding a number), Mrs. Purucker has been operating a boarding house, and her "girls" were among the many guests offering congratulations. They find her just as expert at cooking up menus for adults as she has always been at baby formulas. Calm, capable and lovely at eighty, Mrs. Purucker showed no signs of fatigue throughout the festive afternoon. If there were one thought disturbing her, our guess is it was "Will the guests leave in time for me to get dinner for my girls?"
Medford News, September 18, 1942, page 3

Rooster's Crow Grows Old, Worried Women
Finally Told to Make Noodles--Plot Unfolds
    "Who has the authority to dispose of a rooster, when he becomes a nuisance in the city of Medford?" That's the question Miss Ann Purucker asked a few days ago when she got on the telephone. "Not I," said the county sheriff. "Not I," said the Jackson County Humane Society. "Not I," said the district attorney. "Not I," said the city attorney. "Call the city police."
    This is how it happened, as Miss Purucker pointed out. The rooster was not just her individual problem. It came to her home uninvited and chose to roost in the laurel right outside her mother's window. While Mrs. C. B. Purucker, better known as "Auntie Purucker," is famed for her good disposition, she doesn't care about the cock's crow. She used to operate a maternity home and was never annoyed by a baby's cry any time in the day or night. But when a rooster crows at 6 o'clock Pacific Win the War Time, it doesn't make her want to arise and sing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."
    Then there are several girls who make their home in the Purucker household, and they didn't care for the cock's voice either.
    The business of disposing of him was delegated to Miss Purucker just because she has some bantam chickens which she finds very helpful in her favorite hobby, gardening. The bantams were accused of decoying the noisy rooster to the grounds by all members of the all-feminine household. So Miss Purucker was urged to get rid of the fine feathered bird. And he really was fine feathered, she explained. Otherwise he would have been converted into chicken pie early in the game. No one wanted to be accused of killing, without authority, some prized bird.
    Purucker caught the rooster one night and penned him up. Then she began to seek authorization for the disposal. Each member of officialdom's first reply was kill him and eat him, she stated. but when she asked if he were giving her authority to do just that, each member cried "Not I." The Humane Society referred her [to] the county sheriff. The county sheriff referred her to the district attorney. The district attorney referred her to the city attorney. The city attorney referred her to the city police. (No one said "Give it to the minister.")
    By then Miss Purucker was so tired of telephoning she decided to just drop in and ask the police when she went downtown. So she did and the city police said, "Chop off his head and eat him. Think of the ration points you'll save." Asked if they were really giving her permission to do just that, the courageous cops stood their ground and said "Yes" again.
    Home Miss Purucker went, ready to kill the bird. But he just wasn't meant for her chicken pie. The cleaning woman had arrived in the meantime and Mrs. Purucker had given her the chicken. He made very good noodles, she reported later.
Medford News, February 25, 1944, page 1

Funeral Services Monday for Clara Belle Purucker
    Funeral services will be held Monday for "Auntie" Clara Belle Purucker, one of Jackson County's best-known and most-loved citizens, who passed away Friday at her South Orange Street home. The rites, to be held in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, at 2 p.m., will be conducted by the Rev. Father George R. Turney, and interment will follow in Siskiyou Memorial Park. The body will lie in state at Perl's Funeral Home this afternoon and Monday morning.
    Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Helen Reinecke, of Los Angeles, and Miss Ann Purucker, Medford, and a son, Herman Purucker, Medford, also the following grandchildren: Charlotte Ginder and Frederick Reinecke, Los Angeles; Pfc. Bill Reinecke, Army Signal Corps, Long Island; Ed Reinecke, RT/2 U.S. Navy, Norfolk, Va. Two great-grandchildren, Donna Reinecke and Frederick Reinecke, 4th, also survive.
    Honorary pallbearers will be John C. Mann, Maj. A. R. Livingston, Fred L. Strang and Robert Frame. Active bearers will be Royal E. Bebb, Ward Hammond, John P. Moffat, Thomas V. Williams, I. E. Schuler and J. A. McDougall.
    Born September 9, 1862, in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, the deceased was married to Dr. George Purucker in the little Pennsylvania church where Amelia Earhart's grandfather was pastor. Dr. Purucker practiced in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Emsworth, Pa., and in 1910 the couple came west to Medford because of his broken health. Engaging in nursing for a time after their arrival, Mrs. Purucker later opened a maternity home, which she conducted for 18 years.
    It was during this period that her unusual gift for caring for babies came to be known far and wide in this region. She could tell unerringly from what dietary difficulties or illness they suffered. Many of the little ones were cared for without thought of remuneration, because, as Auntie Purucker often said, "I just hate to see babies suffer."
    Upon her retirement from conducting the maternity home in January, 1939, Auntie Purucker figured she had acted as chief assistant to the Jackson County stork exactly 1,800 times. Of these babies, the late Winston Mathew, San Francisco attorney, was her first; Loren Edward Leach, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Leach, of Route 2, was the last.
    But her restless and boundless energy would not permit complete retirement, and soon Mrs. Purucker had converted the former maternity home into a boarding house, which she conducted until her last illness.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 18, 1945, page 5


PURUCKER, LILLA MIRIAM
Businesswoman; Owner, Purucker Piano House and Melody Lane.
b. Union, Tennessee; daughter of Rev. Sherwood L. and Lucy M. Grigsby; educated Mississippi Synodical College; College of Emporia and Kansas State Normal School; m. Herman O. Purucker of Medford, Oregon Feb. 24, 1916; son Robert L. (deceased); began as music teacher, Kansas State Normal School; removed to Pendleton, Oregon, later Medford; owner Purucker Piano Store since 1932; has developed an outstanding music store and is very active in musical circles; recipient of national recognition by all leading music magazines; store acclaimed one of most attractive in U.S.; active Music Club and Medford Musical Society; member Garden Club; Protestant; home 13 Glen Oak Court; office 111 N. Central, Medford
.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 456


Long-Time Resident of Medford Dies in Ashland Sunday
    Miss Anne K. Purucker, 66, a long-time resident of Medford who was well known through her activities as a registered nurse, died early Sunday at the Mountain View Nursing Home in Ashland.
    Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, with the Rev. George R. V. Bolster, rector, officiating.
    Miss Purucker was born in the East on Feb. 18, 1890, and was educated at a normal school in Pennsylvania, and received her nurse's training at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago. For some years she worked at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, D.C., before moving to Medford.
    She handled many private nursing cases in southern Oregon during her career, and for a time with her mother operated a maternity home, Purucker's Nursing Home. She was active in work of St. Mark's Church.
    Survivors include a niece, Mrs. Charlotte C. Estes, Richland, Wash., and three nephews, Frederick Reinecke Jr., Glendale, Calif., and Charles William and Edwin Reinecke, both of La Crescenta, Calif.
    Pallbearers at the funeral will include Roy Bebb, Ernest Leavitt, Moore Hamilton, John Moffatt, Robert Frame, Frank Van Dyke and Eugene Thorndike. Perl Funeral Home will be in charge.
    The body will lie in state at the funeral home from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, and those wishing may call between those hours.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1956, page 1



Last revised February 8, 2017