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Nancy Bellzona's Picture Book
The Osages - Mertie Rusk

Mertie RuskThe calculated date of this photograph of Mertie Rusk, half sister to Bertha is approximately 1935. Mertie is not listed on the Osage allotment roll book.

Mertie is standing on mown ground. One can look closely and see, faintly, a barb wire fence in the background. This says the picture could have been taken around the ranch house area of Dennis and Bertha's.

She mimics her sister as a child in an effort to fold her hands in placid control. Here again she mimics the ways of the Anglo women who held their hands just so, in order to show their delicate, soft texture, unmarred by rough work. In her right hand, notice the cigarette in her fingers, another way of poking fun at the women who were just coming into the age of rebellion as far as smoking publicly was concerned.

This picture would mean nothing unless one knew the personality of the mischievous girls who missed nothing in their study of the people around them. It is a joke she is sharing with her sister, Bertha.

"See! I'm all dressed up in these fashionable clothes, I have affected mannerisms, I'm smoking too. Now, am I doing everything as it should be done?" There is nothing malicious, just girlish fun.

Mertie had a rare sense of humor and anyone who remembers her has some funny story to tell about how she was witty and to the point with her fun loving comments. Sometimes, she went to great lengths to entertain by acting out a situation while her audience was sometimes thrown off by her deep insight into the problems of the day brought to light, before there was laughter.



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