Kathryn Ruhl Allen

Profile Updated: July 3, 2012
Residing In: Northville, MI USA
Spouse/Partner: John Fitch Allen
Children: Joseph Allen, a bicentennial baby, born 9 June, 1976, married in May, 1999, Michelle Candace Carpenter More…from CO. They were both engineering students at U of M. Their wonderful children are: Emily Joy, born 27 January 2003, Micah Fitch, born 26 January 2006, Medina Grace (adopted from Ethiopia), born 29 March, 2007, & Lydia Margaret Mae, born 15 July, 2008. They live in CO & Joseph is a fiber-optic engineer.
Occupation: artist-homemaker
FaceBook Link:

Kathryn Ruhl Allen

Education after Seaholm:

University of Michigan, 1962-1967 (slowed down a year by mono) major, Far Eastern Studies, to the state's Department of Education, 'Social Studies', minors in History and History of Art. Student teaching for my secondary certificate I assisted Mrs. Chen in Far Eastern Studies at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, but when it came time to find a real job for September 1967 when, newly married, I'd be assisting John by my earningas as he completed his Masters in Far Eastern studies, with the teacher-glut at the time, the best I could do was 6th grade in Brighton's Middle School, English, Spelling, Social Studies & Reading. I'll speak more of this in 'Work History' below. In July 1968, when Marvin Eisenberg, head of the History of Art Department at U of M, offered me the job of research assistant to Oleg Grabar in Islamic Art History, I was delighted. I had begun my Masters in the History of Art, concentrating on trecento Italian painting (Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, Simoni Martini, Pietro & Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Lorenzo Monaco--teacher of Fra Angelico) and, while working for Professor Grabar, I added his classes in Islamic Art to my first love, trecento painting. After our 6 years abroad, in Japan, England & Japan, settling in Northville (because it is close to Ann Arbor), we've received top-notch borrowing privileges from U of M. 'Guests' of the library, friendships have developed with the directors of the Fine Arts Library & the Grad Library & for their convenience we've been placed on professorial status whereby books we borrowed are renewed once per semester. My post-graduate studies continue in several fields--European Intellectual History, Medieval History, Late Medieval History of Art. When books are recalled from our 600 holdings, I endeavor to type in notes before returning the volumes. John & I jokingly refer to me as 'Auto-didact, Emeritus'!

Where Have You Lived?

963 Puritan Road, Birmingham, Michigan, was my childhood home until sophmore year, high school, when Mom & I (my parents divorced) moved to 666 Baldwin Court, off Harmon, east of Quarton Lake.

5023 Stockwell was home my freshman year at U of M, the Pi Phi House (off Hill, near the Law Quad) sophmore & junior years, Oakland St (off Hill the other way, closer to the Law Quad) senior year, and East Kingsley near the Farmer's Market between State Street & Division, our first two years of marriage.
I found our new home just walking around, looking up. There it was--third (top) floor, empty, of a Victorian house. John's height, 6'2", put him at risk with its sloping ceilings, but the half-moon window & sloping celiings made the livingroom most cosy.

July 1969 we were on our way in a 747 to Tokyo, arriving first day of the rainy season, July 15th, the day our astronauts hopped on the moon, all Tokyo watching by TV in Ginza storefront windows, as we learned on our way by cab from the airport to our first home in Japan, the Dai-Ichi Hotel. From our hotel window we could look down on passengers, taking the Yamato-line at Shimbashi Station, being packed into the train cars. One day, while descending the escalator into the hotel lobby, someone called my name. There stood my cabinmate from Interlochen when we were 14, Sue Ann von der Heydt, who was visting her brother, on leave from Viet Nam, with her parents. Conversations with him helped us answer certain questions concerning the War. He spoke of the Vietnamese receiving American soldiers gladly in their villages, as rescuers.

The International House, our second 'home' in Tokyo, graced us with friendships with visiting professors & access to a library.

Fall, 1967, we moved into 'W nana-ban' (W7), our home at the newly-built Institute for International Studies & Training, 1/3 of the way up the southern slope of Mt Fuji, by a cow farm. Everything but cows was of smaller size in Japan. Cows & sake bottles--each evening we walked to Mr. Goto's farm to buy a giant sake bottle full of milk, fresh, warm & frothing, straight from the cow, from which we made yoghurt, boiling it first. Here I introduce our cat. Cats are tailess in Japan, being of the Manx variety, but while in an woodblock print establishment in Kyoto, we met a kitten whose mother was Siamese. Feelie (Ophelia Pussy Cat) came to live with us. Each morning she raced me to the kitchen for her share of toasted seaweed; each evening she sat by the kitchen door & watched the milk come to a boil. I knew when I was tardy in turning it down when I saw her sitting there, her eyes as big as saucers. Just in time, by running, I'd reach it before it frothed over.

We moved to England. By rescuing my little Japanese-Spanish friends from a big rambuctious puppy, they screaming in fright, I hurt my back. I grabbed the dog & lugged him, squirming, up the mountain slope to his owner, the bus driver of the Institute, Mr. Tomiyama. If I had noticed the size of the puppy's paws, I never would have picked him up. Carrying him low & squirming tore the ligaments up & down my spine. I was 'air-freighted', by special arrangement, from Tokyo's Seiroka Byooin (St Luke's Hospital) to Old Grace in Detroit. Put first in traction, then in a brace, I was told arthritis was my problem, & would be crippled for life. My Mom knew of the Queen's orthopedic physican lecturing recently in Ann Arbor. She wrote & received the reply: "My dear Mrs. Veinott, I have eleven different ways to help your daughter--without surgery! Send her over!" John met me in Birmingham, having completed our contract in Japan, & 4 days later we flew to London to see Dr James H Cyriax on Wimpole Street, elegance & antiques on every floor--all four. "Traction & the brace have brought on atrophy, due to torn ligaments," he announced, having examined me. "Do you swim? Yes, good. Walking & swiming will allow the blood-flow to remove your injured cells." Swim (1 mile) & walk (7 miles) I did every day in Folkestone, swimming at the Sports Centre (opened the year before by Princess Anne) & walking on the Leas, the clifftops south of Dover, a mile-long park of tulips, roses, then chrysanthemums in gardens overlooking the Channel--on a clear day we could see Calais--huge gulls circling overhead, plaintively crying, & the Vespers bell ringing in the evening from Trinity Church, where John, with his beautiful voice, had been invited, our first time there, by the rector's wife, a bishop's daughter, to join the choir. We arrived, the first time for Advent Lessons & Carols. When the Reverend & his wife greeted us afterwards, John said one word, 'Hello', in his deep voice, when Mrs. Hopkins asked, "Do you sing? Our bass died last night!" Each Sunday evening, when we heard the Vesper bells ringing, we'd turn around on the Leas to head back to the Church, its slate steeple lit by the lowering sun, the golden rooster gleaming on the weather vane--Trinity Church with its pre-Raphaelite, Burn-Jones window (unbombed by the Nazis)--Jesus preaching His Sermon on the Mount--the Beatitudes--to a crowd that included children & bunnies.

Our first flat in Folkestone was on Trimworth, & when Jenni, our neighbor above, received visits from her mom, we heard: "Come on, you silly sausage!" as she coaxed her dachshund up the stairs. From Trimworth we walked to a lush playing field in the evening, passing peace roses big as dinner plates along the way. Once, we heard a rustling beside us. It was a little hedgehog by the curb!

Our second flat, on Bouverie Road West, was near the Leas. From our bedroom in the back (we had the entire top--third--floor), each morning we watched Rufus, Cairn terrier of our landlady Mrs Grant, announce his dominion over the walled garden. John's trusty bike, Flash, took him to work each morning at Grimston Gardens School for English Studies, as Exhibit A--the teacher with the American accent. He brought home, in the basket on the handlebars, a bottle of champagne for our 5th anniversary. The cork loosened, and half the contents geysered against the kitchen ceiling, terrifying Rufus, our visitor.

Returning to Japan, we lived in 'W ichi-ban' (W1), at the beginning, not the end, of the row of faculty housing. Next to us, in 'W ni-ban' (W2) were the Funamis, our dear friends, who welcomed us with homemade posters taped to our front door. Preparing for the art show in Tokyo was my big task this time, while John taught English again to trainees at the Institute.

We arrived in Birmingham, Christmas 1974, & in the spring 1975, we bought a home, a Victorian gem, in Northville, 538 Grace Street. Joseph joined us, as a bi-centennial baby, June 9, 1976. Goober Peas, a cock-a-poo (pictured below--'Puhh-Peeee'--with Joseph), a hand-me-down-pooch from Amy, my niece, was with us.

1 April, 1983, we moved to our current home, a Dutch Colonial, built around a Delft-tiled fireplace in the livingroom: the first owner had gone to Holland to buy the tiles & after the house had been built around them, he was transferred to California. This home reminds me of Puritan Road. They both have a big front hall. Entering the Puritan Road house, one looked into the dining room to see the western window (full of antique glass) opening on to the back yard. Here, one looks into the 'middle room' & through the doorwall into the back yard. On Puritan Road the backyard was full of flowers (Mom, THE Volunteer at Cranbrook Gardens, was known as 'The Rose Lady'); here it is full of trees we've planted--copper & variegated beech, Gingko & Katsura, all big & luxuriating now.

Abel, a Maltese, lived with us before he became our hand-me-down pooch-to-Amy (touche!), when Joseph left for U of M. Psalm 150:5 says: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Abel certainly did, especially to the hymn 'Up from the Grave He Arose!" He'd throw back his head, lift his little jowls, roll back his eyes, & let loose, following the melodic line with proper rests.

Now we have house wrens, living outside, of course. One couple, the older one, lives in the wren house at the end of the hall on the north side of our house. We can see them through two windows, through the pantry door window & through the pantry window proper. They raised a brood last spring. One of their young sons with his mate raised their brood in the wren house outside the southern window of our dining room, on the east side of the house.

All winter long the chickadee tried to stuff himself through the wren house door & not being able to, he'd stamp his feet in rage on the roof. He never looked at the house we had had especially made for him, asking the farmer at the Northville Market to cut his wren house opening larger. Late March he decided to give the chickadee house a try. He and his mate soon had two babies, & it was interesting to see just how he ruled the roost. She had to wait in the butterfly bush nearby until he'd thrown up his beakful into the straining throats inside. He never went in. As soon as he began to fly away, the mom was there, timing herself perfectly. Like greased lightening she flitted through the opening, a bull's eye every time, to be with her babies as they ate.

In two weeks the babies were grown & they both left home the same day. Mama & Papa Chickadee never came back. But late that day, the young male wren arrived. He poked his head in & gave a snort of disgust. "Pigs!" he muttered. Squaring his shoulders, he would do his civic duty. He went inside. Time after time, beakful after beakful, he emerged from the opening, squeezing throughh huge wads of debris each three times larger than himself. They were so big that I was sure their sheer bulk would drag him to the ground. But staunchly he kept at it, planting his claws around the edges of the opening, hanging on for dear life, disappearing behind a cloud of billowing feathers, dust, straw that flew away in every direction as he shook his head. Staggering, coughing, he'd go back in for more. At last he was done & flew away.

Weeks passed. Not until two days ago did he reappear. There he was on the roof of his last year's house, doing a little dance of joy. He tossed his head back & skipped & flicked his face from side to side, tilting his beak this way & that. "I'm here!" he said. "Just where I've wanted to be!" He even went inside to toss out a feather & a twig, but nothing much because he had lived there before,. The next day, yesterday, he came back & did the same thing.

I'm waiting. It's just about this time of day that he comes, & the storm is over. Will he come? I hope so.

Last year I could believe how many babies they raised. They all left on the same day, following the same routine,one after another: Beak out. Head out. Look around. Wing one out. Wing two out. Look around. Fly to wren house roof. Look around. Take a deep breath. Hold it in. Fly to Big house Roof. One left. Another. The Third. The Fourth. The Fifth. The Sixth. they were like clowns coming out of a Volkswagen! Six babies in that little house! No wonder the Mom & Dad stopped on their wren roof to trill their joy before flying on to scavenge another beakful.

Stand by. Pinebrook's Happy Bird Watch will be sure to keep you posted!

Work History:

Spring, 1967, student taught Far Eastern Studies at Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, working with Mrs. Chen.

Fall 1967-Spring 1968, taught English, Social Studies, Spelling & Reading to two 6th grade classes in the Middle School in Brighton, Michigan.

Fall 1968-Spring 1969, research assistant to Professor Oleg Grabar, University of Michigan, History of Art Department, Islamic Art. He went on to Harvard to head the History of Art Department there. His father, Igor Grabar, is responsible for saving the icons now in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, from destruction by the Soviets, among them The Trinity, by Andre Rublev, of the 15th century, and the Theotokos of Vladimir (Madonna and Child), painted in 1131 (both, ‘Google-able’).

Summer 1969, salesperson at John Leidy’s Shop, Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, meeting the public, mostly people buying wedding and anniversary gifts of fine china, crystal, & Delftware.

Fall 1969-Spring 1970, taught English as a Foreign Language at The International Institute for Studies & Training, Kamiide, Japan.

Fall 1970-Spring 1971, taught English as a Foreign Language to Mrs. Goto, wife of Goto-sensei ('teacher'), who was decorated by Emperor Hirohito as a Cultural Treasure for his paper making from mulberry bark, and to Nobuyuki & Takayuki Funami.

Fall 1983-Spring 1988, co-homeschooled our son, Joseph, 2nd grade through high school, with John, special for us all. Joseph fulfilled his language requirement at Michigan in Russian by studying the Bible with his Dad. We raised him to write a good blue book in history, & he did--he got an A+ in the one history course he took--as an engineering student. He had fallen in love with light--waves or particles?--when his Grandpa's genes kicked in when he reached high school. (John's Dad was an electrical engineer at GE. When they retired him at 65, he became a full professor at Florida State, teaching fulltime till his death at 82). We look back on Joseph's drawings, done when he was little, & realize we were raising an engineer: in his drawings the paddle wheel, the well, the plow, the fishing net, all could conceivably work!

Fall 1995-Spring 1997, home-schooled Sakura Wagner for her junior and senior years in high school.

Fall 2000-Sping 2002, assisted John, the director, in the Alpha Course—developed by Nicky Gumbel, Vicar, Holy Trinity Brompton Church (Anglican), Knightsbridge, London—at Christ Church Cranbrook.

School Story:

I have one from the University of Michigan, will that count? My Dad & his wife had called to let me know they'd be in Ann Arbor on their way up north from Florida & wanted to take me out to dinner. Hurridly I set off to the library for some serious study. Not having time to walk all the way to the Grad Library, I went to the Law Library in the Law Quad. I'd never been inside. It was so quiet, just the right atmosphere to really concentrate. But one interruption came after another! First a young man wanted to borrow my umbrella. I lent it to him. He returned it. Then another wanted to borrow my pen. I lent it to him. He returned it. And so the interruptions continued. At last I returned to my room to hurriedly change my clothes. What was my chagrin, in pulling off my Linus sweatshirt, to find in BIG black letters on the back, I NEED ALL THE FRIENDS I CAN GET. Never was I more mortified. Not in a million years would I have tried such thing. Even if I'd wanted to I couldn't have pulled it off. My face would have been beet red the moment I walked out the door! Funny thing, though, John & I met at the Grad Library, in the Grad Reserve Reading Room. I discovered it my freshman year, fall of 1962, with its long oak tables & solid oak armchairs, & floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the President's garden, & John discovered it as a newcomer from Yale, a grad student, in the fall of 1966. We were both in the same field, Far Eastern Studies. The rest, wonderfully, is history.


It's a privilege to have lived so long! Each morning John & I find ourselves awakening with greater excitement that we have one more day to spend together, discussing things, & to marvel even more at God's great love. At Interlochen around the campfire I used to lead my campers in this song, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver & the other gold." I know what it is to be old & to have an old friend. Our 44th wedding anniversary is August 19, just in time for our reunion. We have 2 days to renew & deepen old friendships with you before celebrating our big day--with you. How grand!

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Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
My Mom in 1928 with Mary Lee, my oldest sister, born 24 June, 1924, & Marjorie Mae, born January 30,1927.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Margie, a Birmingham High graduate, Christmas 1944, with her two little sisters, Gretchen Ann, born 23 December, 1941, & Kathryn Elizabeth, born 14 May, 1944. The old high school used to be just west of Baldwin Library. Like the library & Quarton School, it had slate shingles on its roof.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
The four sisters on Mary's wedding day, 26 December 1944. Jim Edwards, her beau from high school & a lieutenant in the Air Force, got an unexpected leave of absence. Mary was 20 & he 21. They were married at Christ Church just after I'd been the first live Baby in the Ceremony of Gifts. Margie was the maid of honor.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Mom with Gretchen & me in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, winter, 1946.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Mom's garden was glorious! I remember those delphinium towering over my head.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Snowcraft--Gretchen leading the way. Steve & Amy, Mary & Jim's oldest, were like sibings, two & four years younger than I.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Guests at my birthday party, May, 1944, kindergarten. Francie Quillian is second from left, Gretchen, to her left; I'm second from right & Corinne Fischer is to my right. The rest I don't remember. If you recognize yourself, please let me know! We are off to a hay ride!
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Gretchen & I at the the horse show which topped off our summer at Hilltop Camp, now a University of Michigan alumni camp. It is on Walloon Lake, south of Boyne City. I am 6, missing my two front teeth, & wearing my Mary Jane (dress up)shoes. The horse is Blaze, docile & kind. Gretchen has braids. Madame & Mr. Waters, British, supervise us strictly, in keeping with their British wartime experiences. Camp lasts 6 weeks & I love every minute!
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Margie serves my birthday portion of the yummy cake she's made from scratch. Amy, Steve, Gretchen & Francie will share her treat. Best cake in the whole world!
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Back at Hilltop, my fourth summer (five in total), age 10. Bump by Julie Bosch from Grand Rapids. A ballerina & strong, she could deliver the best bumps!