LOWER MAKEFIELD >> It wouldn’t be a Middletown Grange Fair without seeing Ruth Wright riding her faithful 1960 John Deere tractor through the fairgrounds as part of the tractor parade.
Seated on her trustworthy Henrietta - she has names for all of her tractors - she has participated in the parade ever since it was started in the 1990s.
At 95 years young, Wright doesn’t let the years stop her from mowing the fields at her beloved Broadmeadows Farm in Lower Makefield, getting down on the ground and pulling weeds in her yard or hopping on her tractor for a spin around the fairgrounds in Wrightstown.
She even attracted the attention of CBS 3 this year, which aired a segment featuring Ruth and reporter Vittoria Woodill competing in the Grange Fair tractor games. Last year, Ruth won first place in the games, in which the slowest tractor to cross the finish line wins.
A seasoned pro at the games, Ruth admitted she let Woodill win the first of two races. They made a promise to meet up for a rematch in five years when Wright is 100 years old. (Watch the Video Below)
In celebration of her 95th birthday on July 26, Wright was treated to a celebratory breakfast at her favorite eating spot - Mil-Lee's Diner on South Main Street in Yardley. Her adopted daughter, Sharon Kimmel, and her adopted son Richard and daughter-in-law Nancy Kimmel, also threw her a surprise party at the Plumstead Inn.
The celebration, attended by 35 friends and family, featured musical selections by famous violinist Claudia Pellegrini. “She plays the neatest violin you’ve ever heard,” says Ruth.
“Was I surprised? It knocked my socks off,” said Ruth, who thought she was going out for a quiet dinner.
In 1924, while Calvin Coolidge was serving as President of the United States, Ruth was born to Elizabeth and Jesse Osmond on the family farm on Street Road in Bensalem (now the site of the Outback Steakhouse).
Also born that year were President George H.W. Bush, comedian Don Knots, President Jimmy Carter and automobile industry executive Lee Iococca. It also was the year that the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stepped off in New York City.
When she was six months old, the family moved to Northampton Township where her father operated a 50 acre dairy farm on 2nd Street Pike in Richboro just north of the Newtown Road from 1925 to 1948. The farm is the site of today’s Highland Farms.
“My first memory of Richboro is as a two narrow lane dirt road. Richboro was a nice little town. There was Benner’s Country Store and the firehouse. My grandfather helped dig the firehouse cellar with a horse and scoop. Remember the firehouse? It’s gone now, but it was there until they put the waterfall in (Dembowski Memorial Park).”
She also remembers her mother going to the Spread Eagle Inn for fried oysters. “When she would get the urge, she’d call up the owner and ask him to get her fried oysters ready,” remembered Ruth.
Growing up in Richboro and living on her parent's dairy farm “were good days,” said Ruth. “I loved it.”
Ruth attended and graduated in 1942 from the Richboro School conveniently located right next door to her parent’s farm.
“I’d go out one door and in the other,” she laughed. “It was kind of neat,” she said of attending school there. “I loved going to school,” she added, noting she had just 15 in her graduating class.
Graduation was held at the Addisville Reformed Church located just down the street. That’s also where Ruth and John Wright were married in 1945.
The couple met for the first time at a dance at the Woodside Community House. But afterwards, Ruth said “he didn’t call and he didn’t call.” But eventually he did call and invited Ruth to a movie. “We went together about three years,” she said.
The year 1948 was a transitional one for Ruth and her family.
When her father retried from farming in 1948, her parents moved to Washington Avenue in Newtown Borough. Her dad later worked for a short time at the Newtown Cemetery.
Also in 1948 John and Ruth purchased the close to 90 acre Briggs Farm on Lindenhurst Road in Lower Makefield located next door to Breezyvale Farm, the Wright family dairy farm run by John’s father, Willard Wright.
“He came to me one day and said, ‘Ruth, do you want to buy a farm?’ We didn’t have any money to buy a farm. We were poor,” she said. “But Mr. Briggs kept the mortgage said pay whenever you can at four percent interest. So that’s what we did,” she said.
The farm - renamed Broadmeadows Farm - has been home sweet home ever since for Wright and her extended family.
Broadmeadows Farm initially served as a “nursery,” raising calves that were eventually sent to Breezyvale Farm when they matured.
Today, the farm raises alfalfa and field corn and is also home to an English and Western horse riding school operated by Ruth’s adopted daughter, Sharon Kimmel.
Over the years, the Wrights witnessed their share of major events, including the construction of I-95 through the heart of the township’s agricultural community in the 1970s that changed the community forever.
The arrival of I-95 led to the rapid transformation of the township from an agricultural to a suburban bedroom community. It’s once quiet roads soon became filled with traffic as its farm fields gave way to sprawling housing developments.
Her husband, John, didn’t live long enough to see the farm preserved. He died in 1989, 15 years before Ruth agreed to sell a conservation easement to Bucks County and Lower Makefield Township to preserve their beloved 82-acre farm in perpetuity.
That was the same year that Broadmeadows Farm made local history, hosting a campaign stop by U.S. President George W. Bush. A crowd of 23,000 gathered on Oct. 28 to hear the President speak at Wright's 82 acre farm. Bush went on to win re-election that November. It was the first time a sitting president had visited the township.
“We had Bucks County tied up that day,” said Ruth, who got to meet the President personally. “He kissed me,” she said smiling broadly. “That was some crowd. Everyone was trying to guess how he would arrive. He came in a line of cars.”
“And 24 hours later you never knew anyone was here,” said Sharon Kimmel.
So does Ruth have any advice for reaching the age of 95?
“Good farm living and a good farm life,” she says without hesitation. “I always worked hard, had a lot of fun, had a wonderful husband. And I have an excellent daughter now. I’ve always said we have had a good farm life. Growing up, we were made to mind. We didn’t get away with a lot. And we had a good church life.”