Helga Ruby

Wedding and engagement announcements

More on Stan and Helga's wedding. I did more NY Times searches today and found more Rabinowitz material. Here are two items relevant to the previous post: first a June 8, 1947 announcement of the wedding happening that same day, and then an April 7, 1946 announcement of Stan's previous engagement to Lorraine (who gets a last name—Sweedler—for the first time in our family narrative). Stan broke off his engagement with Lorraine before renewing his acquaintance with Helga.

Those who have read Walter's "Early Lives of Stan and Helga Ruby" manuscript will recall that after the breakup practical Stan sought a new girlfriend who lived within a 20 block radius of Selma's apartment on W. 73rd St. Helga was slightly outside that range but got the nod anyway.


Stan and Helga wedding photos (for Harriet)

Harriet has been asking me to return the favor by sending her pictures of Stan and his family members. Today I emailed her a precious set of three photos we have from the June 8, 1947 wedding of Stan and Helga at the Beacon Hotel in New York City. Unfortunately, the attachments did not come through in her email, so I told her I would post them here.

Of course, they should have been here already, but were never previously posted—an example of the spottiness of this blog as a complete historical record. Anyway here they are now (click to enlarge).


We've always been able to identify only some of the people in these photos. Maybe Harriet can help, especially with the second one, where the six people in the front are Rabinowitz family members. The others are Stan's Ratner relatives. In the third picture, Helga's mother Elly and Aunt Hilda are to her right with their escorts (Herman Peyser probably and Uncle Joe Leibman) and the young people in front are various friends of the bride and groom. But the partially obscured couple next to Uncle Joe are unidentified.

I'm looking forward to getting Harriet's input on this.

Walter's visit to Piedmont and Los Gatos

I am just completing a wonderful three days here with Dan, Jo, Bill, Lani, Twyla and Maxine and a large cast of League of Wmen's Voters members (I was about to write 'ladies', but the League has gone thoroughloy co-ed, so the president of the Southwest Santa Clara League is now a man). Jo and I spent Saturday with the Southwest Santa Clara League members at a retreat in which one member, Dale Hill, was awarded the Helga Ruby Outstanding Member award. This was the first year the award has been given, but it will be an annual affair. It was a moving occasion for Jo and I to see and hear from so many League members about what a critical role Helga played for them as a League activist, and in many cases, as mentor and friend. Sadly, I was all too often disinterested when Helga told me about her involvement in a succession of Leagues (Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Gatos) over a period of decades, and only got interested on one of two occasions in her last year or two, when I suddenly realized that I have become very interested in grass roots politics covering it as a reporter, and here was my mother delving into it in great detail and full of passion for so many years--and I hadn't paid attention. But now I'm contemplating finding out my local League in New Jersey and getting involved. (note to readers: last summer Walter returned from Israel saying he had decided to make aliyah, so we'll believe this thing about joining the League when we see it).

Then Jo and I had a mellow afternoon in Los Gatos visiting Helga and Stan's close friends Suzanne and Jo and then to the trippy 'Halfway to Heaven' house of trippy Charlie Walton, filled with wired electronic contraptions, including an electric train montage that could lowered from the ceiling at the push of a button, and with majestic views over the Valley and surrounding mountains. We also went for a short hike on the mountainside that one gazed at from Stan and Helga's place on Overlook Drive. Altogether a deeply enjoyable 'return' to Los Gatos, which somehow has gone on with its unhurried existence without Stan and Helga.

The rest of my visit included a serious hike with Jo in that wonderful endless preserve in the hills overlooking Oakland; a visit to the cemetery, where we paid on the ground beside our parents gravestone and told stories about them; three terrific dinners, one in a Thai Restaurant and one superb meal each cooked by my gourmet siblings; Dan did a shish-kebab thing with the lamb perfectly cooked and suffused with all the right spices and Jo did a marvelous shrimp and rice dish. We had a lot to catch up on in terms of who is doing what--a lot of the story of Lani and Jo's all-but -certain move to Paris in September, where Lani will attend the International School, and Dan's recent trip into the heart of darkness of a red neck music festival down in the deserts of southern California. We made a 'dent' in going through boxes of photos and artificats of Stan and Helga, but honestly a rather small dent. There was a lot of nachas all around concerning the achievements and plans of Twyla, Gene, Zach and Lani.

So it was wonderful, relaxing, theraputic and a chance to come closer as a family both as we look back on our wonderful parents, but also as we look to the future.

October anniversaries

Gopal's letter and Dan's posting have moved me to add my thoughts. Just read pieces that I hadn’t seen before, and learned there’s yet another family member to add to the important October dates: Walter Ruby (my grandfather’s) birthday, Oct. 15. So that sits right between mine, the 11th and Helga’s, the 20th. And right in there we also have Stan’s death day, the 18th. And most years we get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur thrown in there too (as we did this year).

Last week, on my birthday, I took my dear Carly to the cemetery. I gathered a few photos, our combined collection of seashells, and a journal. There at the Oakmont Cemetery in Lafayette, in the Jewish section, called “compassion” I do find true comfort. It does surprise me. Who would have known? It’s not just that it is so incredibly beautiful, being in the open hills and looking down on what I call “Hodel’s Farm” (reference to our backyard neighbor in Pittsburgh). It's that it all seems right; the decision of which plot/s, our carefully crafted words on the stone (“Stanley and Helga Ruby, generous spirits and forces of life, the important thing is to not stop questioning”); that you pass Green Valley Drive and Stanley Boulevards on your way; and that Carly is free to roam. So, it only seems fitting to post this photo of the site and their grave - our official unveiling on the blog.

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