Ruby Family History Project Blog

Israel family reunion

On a whole different front, Walter is getting ready to meet up with our Israeli family next week, as he travels there despite the war before meeting up with Tanya in the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Joanne has canceled her visit to Israel, but will instead travel with Lani to Venice, Paris and London. In London, she has hopes to contact Helga's cousing Edit who is reported by one of the young Israeli relatives to be alive and well.

To give a flavor, here is a series of emails, with Walter's latest update on contingency plans for meeting the family if Afeq remains unsafe.

Jo,

I had a long talk with Dalit and Tal on Thursday and Tal offered to have me picked up at airport upon arrival in his company car and brought to their house in Zichron. That is on the morning of the 7th. Dalit said that if the present situation is continuing at that point, the family reunion set for August 8th on Afek will be moved to Zichron, which as you know is about 15 miles south of Haifa and no rockets have gotten there yet, although some have gotten pretty close. The problem, of course, will be what to do about Ze'ev ,who might not be able to move to Zichron, though Raya, Pnina etc. certainly can do so. But the feeling is 'you do what you can' and 'zeh mah she yesh' and if we need to hold the reunion in Ze;ev's absence thats what will have to be. Tal said rockets have landed all around Afek and they themselves wouldn't travel there at this point at least.

Dalit, who I havent spoken to in about 30 years, was a delight, an absolutely charming person, very thoughtful, speaking about the sense of fragility of life in Israel--one moment a beautiful summer season, the next moment all of this horror. The situation is bringing people together and causing people to rise to the next level of generosity and collectiveness and all of that, but its still a dispiriting mess.

So, presumably the family reunion will take place on the 8th, probably in Zichron and of course you can be involved by phone. They all very much wish you could come, but understand and respect your concern about Lani.

I dont remember the address of the chateau in Neuilly--I have a picture of it in my mind's eye, but wouldnt know how to find it. And, as I may have mentioned, Clerc is gone. It used to be on the Place de La Opera, but I couldnt find it when I was there with Tanya in January.

But look at this link I just found on Google.

it seems to be the same firm. Do you think Gerald is Arnaud's son? So, according to this, the firm appears to have been created in 1874 on the Place de L'Opera and Joe Leibman must have taken it over at some point.

Love, W.

On 7/29/06, joanne ruby wrote:

joanne ruby wrote:
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 23:05:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: joanne ruby
Subject: Re: Edit and Gina
To: Dan Ruby

good go, Dan. I will write Achikam shortly w/ this and see what he can add for preparation to my talking by phone or in-person w/ Edit Aug. 14-16 in London.

Walt, shall we think about when/ how we can communicate while you are in Ha'aretz w/ our cousins. I think you definitely need to show them all the blog. Can you access Dan's photo album on line? would surely blow them away. are you taking the CD - Stories of Helga and Stan Ruby? wow. you two sure are pulling it all together. Walt, do you have recollection of location of Hilda's mansion in Neuilly? I'd love to find it. Is anyone buried there we need to find? Now there's a question (am I blogging yet?): where is Hilda buried?

Dan Ruby wrote:
Edit and Gina were daughters of Bette Ringel, who was Hermann's sister. There
was a third sibling Rosa, mother of Ze'ev and his sister Margot. We
don't know anything about Hermann, Bette, and Rosa's parents.
@festivalpreview.com>@festivalpreview.com>@sbcglobal.net>@sbcglobal.net>

The Jersey City mystery deepens

Remember that among the New York Times clippings about Walter Ruby that I discovered last year there was one that reported an auto accident taking place in Jersey City on June 14, 1936. A car driven by a Walter Ruby, age 41, of 110 Cottage Street in Jersey City, collided with another car, resulting in six injured people. One of the injured was Evelyn Ladd, 52, of the same address listed for Walter Ruby.

This article has been a continuing mystery. Perhaps it is a different Walter Ruby, though the age is about right. If it is our Walter, why does he have an address in Jersey City? I had came to the conclusion at that time that the reporter had made an error and gave the Cottage Street address for Ruby, particularly since I had interpreted the article as suggesting that Mrs. Ladd had been a passenger in the other car. My explanation was that our Walter was passing through Jersey City, perhaps on business, had an unfortunate accident, and that the news report was mistaken about his address.

So today I am looking at census records available at Ancestry.com. Earlier I already described the 1930 census record for the Ruby household at 685 West End Ave. Now pops up another 1930 census record for a Walter Ruby, listed as a boarder in a Jersey City household with Edmund and Evelyn Ladd.

This is six years before the accident at a different Jersey City address, but obviously if Walter Ruby were a boarder with Evelyn Ladd in 1930, the same Mrs. Ladd must have been in his car in the accident. So my explanation about the mistaken address is not correct. The obvious explanation is that it is a different Walter Ruby.

The one thing that continues to raise an eyebrow is that the Jersey City Ruby lists his industry as "jobber," the exact term listed for the West End Ave. Ruby. Is there any possibility that our Walter conducted business in Jersey City and kept a room there for occasional times that he needed to sleep over? If someone kept a part-time apartment in addition to his family home, is it possible he could have been counted twice in the 1930 census?

But there are a few more anomolies about the Jersey City listing. This Walter Ruby is listed as being 36 years old on April 30, 1930, which would have been correct for our Walter. However, he is listed as being unmarried. Also, it says he was born in New Jersey and that his mother and father were born in the U.S. Those facts are obviously wrong. Also, going back to the newspaper clipping, his correct age on the date of the accident would have been 42, not 41.

So what are we to make of this? Almost certainly we are looking at another Walter Ruby. I will go back into the records and see if I can document an earlier history for this other person. But we can't yet entirely rule out the possibility that our Walter Ruby kept an outside apartment in New Jersey for at least six years in the 1930s, and that if so he evidently fictionalized some details about his life despite using his real name.

I'm going to see if I can find anything else that would bring some clarity.

Ancestry.com researches

I mentioned yesterday that I signed up for a 14-day trial period with Ancestry.com. It has proven very useful so far, turning up various census and death records. If it continues to be useful, I will have to consider paying the very expensive membership fee--more than $300 a year or about $40 a month for access to their worldwide databases. I'm going to try to get as much use of it as I can in the trial period.

Two things of note I discovered today. I was doing searches on some of the Ratner children and was able to follow George and wife Emma to Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 1920, where he was listed as a grocery proprietor. Household members were wife Emma, daughter Marjorie (age 2) and Emma's mother Louise Paeglow. From there I can follow Marjorie into her marriage with Robert K. Decker, evidently known as Ken. Marjorie and Ken appear to still be living at age 89 and 91 at 20 Willow Dr. in Delmar NY, outside of Albany. The phone number listed is 518-478-0208. We know that Marjorie (Stan's first cousin) and Ken had two sons, Kurt and Ronald, but I have not yet been able to find them among the many Deckers with those first names.

But much more exciting than any of that is this morsel, Walter Ruby's draft registration card from June 5, 1917, apparently filled out in his own hand. He lists his name as Walter Ruby Rabinowitz. It provides an exact birthdate for him, October 15, 1893, a datum we may not have had. He lists his occupation as "salesman" with (as best I can make out) Lenox Novelty Co., located at 109 Lenox Ave. in New York City. He is 23 years old and writes that he is a "natural born" citizen.

Here's the image.

BLC photos


Here's a taste of how Brant Lake Camp looks in the summer of 2006, 74 years after Stan first attended. Our guide is 86-year-old former camp director Bob Gersten, who was four years ahead of Stan in camp and in Long Beach High School. Gersten was a star athlete who went on to play starting guard at University of North Carolina. He has fond memories of young Stan Ruby.


Rose's name in Rostov was Raizel

Just to record here the other wonderful discovery from our visit to the Hebrew Tailor's Assn cemetery--the Hebew inscription on Rose Ratner's grave refers to her as 'Raizel', which is Yiddish for 'Rose'. Some Google accounts say Raizel is actually Hebrew for Rose, but I had always thought of Rose as Vered or Varda, but my Eevreet is lamentably more rusty than it used to be. Anyway, its exciting to have the correct name to go with the young woman from Rostov-on-Don during her girlhood and when she was looking out the upstairs window to check if her would-be suitor Abraham Ratner was sufficiently presentable for her to come downstairs and make an appearance. (He was). The name Raizel tangibly connects us to the mysterious pre-American life of Rose and the whole Tulbowitz clan and that makes it very precious to me.

Thanks, Jo, for providing Mom and Dad's anniversary. June 7, 1947, five days after Helga received her American citizenship. It must have been an incredible week.

Home movie technology


I kept wondering what kind of family had a home movie camera and projector in the late 1920s and early '30s. Here's a tidbit from the history section on Kodak's web page:

"For years, the Eastman Kodak Company had worked to develop a system of movie equipment and film that would be easy enough for the advanced amateur photographer to use, yet reasonably affordable. The result was the Sixteen Millimeter "Cine Kodak" Camera and the Kodascope Projector". The camera itself weighed about seven pounds, and had to be handcranked at two turns per second during filming. A tripod was included in the package, all of which cost a whopping $335.00! And this in a time when a new Ford automobile could be purchased for $550.00."

In 1932, Kodak introduced a new format, Cine Kodak Eight, which made home movie-making more accessible. Here are some photos of what Walter's camera and projector probably looked like. Actually, I can check, since the actual projector is over at Joanne's house. On the other hand, the camera did not turn up in the stash, so we will have to guess which model Walter owned.

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Visa stamps

Nice work, Walter. Too bad the full file is missing, but it is great that you found those records. The visa information and Ecuador story are consistent with the stamps in Elly's passport, which we have. Here is a page with a stamp for the transit visa in New York and a visa issued in Lisbon for Ecuador.

I don't see anything that shows they actually went to either Ecuador or Costa Rica. The next stamp (on the next page) is from the Cuban consulate in Nueva York, dated May 7, following a notation about a payment of $500 per person. Following that are two U.S. immigration visas issued to Elly and Helga on May 21, 1941, by the U.S. Consul in Havana. Finally, there are U.S. Immigration and Natularization Service stamps noting their arrival in Miami on May 23.

Helga and Elly's arrival in NY in 1941

Valery Bazarov, the present-day historian at HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the international refugee agency that helped Elli, Hilda, and Helga at several points in their three year long oddessey across France and Portugal to the safety of America, offered to look in the organization's archives in New York to see what they have on their case. Valery informed me that HIAS was very active in southern France from the time of the fall of Paris to the Nazis in June 1940 until the German occupation of southern France in November 1942--helping thousands of Jews escape the Nazis including prominent people like Marc Chagall --and therefore might be able to determine whether the organization helped them there as well as in Portugal and New York.

Today. when I visited him at HIAS' office on 7th Ave in Manhattan, Valery regretfully told me that he only found two pieces of paper that seem to have been part of a larger file, but the file itself seems to have disappeared. I will describe these two documents here, and since I dont have a scanner at home, will put them up on the website in several days. The first is a hand written scrap of paper, apparently from their days in Lisbon, reading:

Ringel, Elly
Ringel, Helga
Polonaise, Kattovice, 3.7.900
Address: rua de gloria 41-28

As we know, Elli and Helga had obtained fake Polish passports that must have listed Elli's borthplace as Kattovice--perhaps the 3.7.900 refers to Elli's birthday in 1900 (the correct year of her birth. The address is clearly where they lived in Lisbon.

The second document was issued by HIAS upon their arrival in New York on Aopril 23,1941.
It gives us the important information that the ship they arrived on was the S.S. Guine, a Portuguese ship that Bazarov said was one of the main ships that carried refugees from Lisbon to New York during those years. It lists Elly as a widow 40 years of age of Polish nationality and Helga as being 15 (actually she was 16). It lists their residency as Hotel Paris in New York, which was probably where Elli and Hilda stayed during the week that they spent in New York (Helga was held on Ellis Island during that period) connecting with Judge Ringel who apparently signed on as their guarator in New York even though he had never met them before and there was no discernable family connection. All of that was arranged through the aegis of HIAS. so it is a great shame that the file has been lost. It lists the HIAS worker who dealt with their case as Neubau (the first name is indistinct), who Valery said was a well known HIAS worker during those days and had the distinction of handling the very last immigrant held on Ellis Island when that facililty closed in 1954.

Bazarov urged me to check with the office of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington (now under Homeland Security) which likely has records from Elli, Hilda and Helga's arrival, which would shed light on how they managed to get permission to come back to the U.S. as permanent residents after travelling to Cuba from New York. The HIAS form lists them as "in transit to Ecuador" and specifies that they arrived in New York on "4/23-bonds to 5/10", apparently they would have to leave by May 10. I am going to have to rewrite some of the Ruby Family History account on all of this as in our last interview, Helga spoke of travelling on visas to Costa Rica, not Ecuador, and although she had previously spoken of Ecuador as the country whose visas they had purchased in France, thus allowing them to travel to Portugal and on to the Western Hemisphere, I went with the Costa Rican story in the RFH.

After leaving HIAS I went to the National Archives Research Administration in lower Manhattan--I had to research another person for an article I am writing about claims that Pope Pius XII supposedly helped 800 Jews and 11 nuns cross the ocean from Portugal to the US--also in 1941--and unfortunately was unable to find confirmation of that claim. That story and another one I have been working on re Pius and the Jews has turned out to be a wild goose chase that has taken way too much of my time over the past several weeks. But I did use the opportunity to find confirmation of Elli and Helga's arrival on microfilm. There was also a notation that Helga was naturalized (received U.S. citizenship) on June 2, 1947, only a week or two before she and Stan got married (Dan, Jo, what was their anniversary--I seem to remember June 9 or 11)? The office closed before I could secure Helga's naturalization (citizenship) papers, which Dan and Joanne were unable to find in their treasure trove of documents they discovered in Helga and Stan's attic last year, so now at last we will get it back.

Walter

Walter arrives

I'm terribly excited to be on. Enornmous thanks to Dan for getting this up.

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1930 census


Here's a snippet from the 1930 census listing Walter, Selma, Joan and Stanley Ruby. A few interesting things to note here. On April 26, 1930, they were listed as living at 685 West End Ave. in Manhattan. According to our manuscript, Walter purchased the Long Beach home a year earlier. Also listed as residing with the family is Bertha Denkut, a servant. The census enumerator screwed up the ages of the Joan, Walter, and Bertha. Presumably, Joan was 11, Stanley 5, and Bertha 30 on the day of the census. Walter's occupation is listed as owner and his industry as jobber, or wholesaler.

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