This Blog

Blogger upgrade enables categories

I upgraded to the new version of the Blogger software today. This will allow a variety of improvements, which I will look at later. But I've already implemented the most important new feature. We are now able to categorize our blog posts according to labels we define. I've quickly gone through and assigned labels to all our old posts. We may want to refine the label wording and assignments later, but already you can go to the label listings in the blog sidebar and select any one to view just the posts relevant to that subject. Any future posts can be assigned to one or more of the existing labels or given a new one.

One immediate conclusion from looking at the results is that we have only scratched the surface in producing content for the blog. Maybe that will inspire us to put some new energy into the project.

RFH document available for download

The draft Ruby Family History document is now available for download as a pdf file. Use the link in the sidebar at right. We'll be adding access to the other document and artifact files listed in the near future.

Josh Funt checks in

Our first cousin once removed, Josh Funt, the oldest son of Wendy Felenstein, checked in from Sarasota FL by email after having discovered this blog, probably after learning of it from his aunt Marsha. Here is the text of his email, along with a great photo of his family.

It's wonderful to hear from you, Josh. Needless to say, we're excited to learn the location of Grammy's Walter Ruby scrapbook, and hope to be able to post scans of some of the photos and clippings here. -- Danny

This is Josh, Wendy Felenstein's son. I was the recipient of a number of items when my mother died that are directly related to this blog. I have an old scrapbook that has clippings of Walter Ruby's accomplishments, and I also have a number of items from Selma.

These things are unique and I treasure them. There are a number of pictures of Walter Ruby from the days of Errol Flynn and Clark Gable. He has that studio type portrait and it looks so like the old 8X10s from that era. I also have a number of clippings showing the invention of Rum and Coke as well as some of his manufactured inventions revolving around the spirits business.

I love what you did with the family history and it is very cool to learn about the old history of our family.

I have saved this blog as a favorite and I plan to revisit it often. I keep in touch with Marsha and Robert, but I am not really in touch with anyone else on Joan's side of the family.

I would be happy to scan and send you some of the items I have. Let me know if you are interested.

All the best to you all.


A childhood friend checks in

Okay, so it has already been an amazing day, learning of 10 new direct ancestors and three times that many new relatives. Also, I didn't mention the general reading I did on the history of the Jewish community of Rzeszow, and the cursory reading on the same subject in Krakow. (This was to help gather resources for Walter's upcoming trip, in which by chance he will have two days in Krakow.)

So it was an amazing day and then an email arrives in my inbox from my long-lost childhood buddy Derek Jeffers. Now, I have been Googling Derek on and off for 15 years, or I should say I was Alta Vista-ing or Lycos-ing him. Remember those search engines from the pre-Google days?

Derek left very few tracks. The best lead I had found was an article about a French auto workers' strike from the early 1980s. That sounded like Derek, who had gone on from our youthful activism to become a committed Socialist. I had thought that since I hadn't found his biline in the Socialist Worker Party newspaper, that maybe he had fallen out with that group and taken another direction.

The idea of him as a strike leader in Paris was certainly romantic. If so, surely he was an international provocateur, riding closed trains across the continent. Such had Derek devolved into a mythic idea in my mind that I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw the message arrive in my inbox.

Yes, it turns out he has been living in Paris for 30-plus years and he actually is an auto worker, though he mentioned the Peugeot plant is currently shut down waiting for parts from Portugal. He filled me in about his three children and wife Esther, an economics professor. They are coming next month to San Diego, where Derek's father had owned a condo before recently passing away.

(Digression: When I would sleep over at Derek's house when we were 11 and 12 years old, his dad would always start the day with a bang by playing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" at top volume on the living room stereo.)

Since they are French, they will have six weeks for the vacation, which means there is every likelihood that I will be able to meet up with my old buddy during his sojourn in California. Plus, he mentions that Esther has an upcoming sabbatical in New York, so there will be more meetings after that.

Earlier today, I expressed my delight at hearing from him but begged off from a lengthy reply because I was getting ready to take off on a festival trip. Well, neither Twyla or I were ready to leave at a reasonable hour this evening, so we decided to go in the morning instead.

Thus, I was able to spend the last few hours updating this blog. Perhaps Derek will check it again before I get back. If so, he can enjoy this post until I have a chance to write to him directly.

One last thing and I am off to bed. Unlike Derek, I'm fairly easy to find on the Internet, though you have to avoid the red herrings like the legislator in Fargo and the sportswriter in San Jose. Walter the prolific author is even more discoverable. Now, with this blog, both of us are popping up even more.

I find it interesting that this blog lands high up on the first Google results page for searches on terms like "rabbi spektor" and "ruby family." After this item posts and Google spiders have taken note, we'll also show up among the first hits on "Derek Jeffers."


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