Our Ruby name—why did Walter choose it?

The youngest Rabinowitz son

In 1912, Walter Rabinowitz completed his education at DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City. He knew that his future lay in sales, not in the garment trade like his older brothers. 

Walter had been raised in the traditional ways of his Russian Orthodox family in Jewish Harlem and then in the Bronx. But he felt an urge to assimilate into the mainstream of American culture.

Our Ruby name — why did Walter choose it?

When and why did Walter Rabinowitz take on our abbreviated last name? It was 1917. Diamond, Pearl and Safire were already taken. 

Walter and popular entertainment

Walter began his career working in the novelty shops on Broadway below 14th Street. It was near to the entertainment district where the best vaudeville acts played. 

Uptown in the Bronx, where the Rabinowitz family had relocated on Tiffany Avenue, the entertainment was less elaborate — a nickelodeon with live singers performing between the films. 

Nickelodeons had been all the rage in recent years. In 1912, there was a fresh new act, Ruby and Edwards, playing in at the most popular nickelodeon in the Bronx.

Ruby and Edwards

Ruby and Edwards was a duet piano player and male vocalist performing hit songs while the lyrics projected on the screen. They were actually just two guys named Harry, including the piano player Harry Rubenstein. The other one, Harry Cohn, later founded Columbia Pictures. 

Since Walter was a young man in the Bronx with a few nickels in his pocket from his sales job, it is not difficult to imagine him going out to the flicks. One can picture Walter taking notice of the intermission performer, the deboinairre piano player about his own age—the Ruby half of Ruby and Edwards. 

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