Fire at the luggage store—one last item about the other Stanley Ruby

Fire at the luggage store—one last item about the other Stanley Ruby

Before I turn the page for good on the doppelganger Stanley Ruby, I can't resist this tidbit about his father. I wanted to know where the family had come from and how it had come by the Ruby surname.

But let's start with that page of Ruby listings in the 1949 Manhattan phonebook that I posted a few days ago. There were two Stanley Rubys listed on adjacent lines, but a few lines above that we find two other interesting listings.

One is Samuel Ruby at 9 W. 18th St. and above that is S. Ruby Luggage Company also at 9 W. 18th St. 

This Samuel Ruby who ran a luggage store just off Fifth Ave. near Union Square was the father of Stanley Ruby the chemistry student. Here is a summary of what I learned about him.

Samuel Ruby was born June 28, 1890 in Krakow, then in the Austrian empire. Unfortunately, I do not have his birth surname. Ruby must have been shortened from a Yiddish surname. Nor do I have anything yet on his arrival in the U.S. or later citizenship information.

He married Mollie Bresnick on January 8, 1920. She was the daughter of a Russian Jewish family from Essex St. on the Lower East Side. Their first child Stanley was born Nov. 26, 1920.

The family lived at 438 New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn. New Lots is best known to Manhattanites as the terminal stop on the IRT 3 Train. The New Lots subway station first opened in 1922. From there, it was a straight shot into the city to the luggage store on 18th.

I don’t know when the store originally opened with a partner. In 1942, it was called Ruby Brown Luggage Company and was located a few blocks away on West 21st St. As we know, by 1949, the store is doing business on W. 18th St. as S. Ruby Luggage Company. 

Maybe business wasn't going well or maybe Sam's accountant messed up, but the company fell behind on its federal tax payments. The IRS filed a lien on the company to put a claim on its future revenues. 

Then, sometime before 1952, there was a fire at the luggage store. The store and all its inventory was lost. There is no suggestion that the fire was suspicious, and fortunately Sam Ruby had fire insurance. But the payments from the insurance escrow fund to Ruby's various creditors, including the IRS, got tied up in litigation, and the whole mess became a federal case.

The U.S. District Court decision in that matter became a precedent in case law. District Judge Ryan held in United States v. Ruby Luggage Corp., S.D.N.Y. 142 F.Supp. 701, that notice of a prior lien filed against "Ruby Luggage Corporation" did not give notice of a lien against "S. Ruby Luggage Corporation". 

The IRS tax lien was incorrectly filed with the wrong corporate name. Therefore, three luggage suppliers that had extended credit to the store for merchandise that was destroyed in the fire were not on notice of the IRS lien. Thus their claims to the insurance funds did not yield in priority to the government's claim.

The case was cited in a similar case four years later in which a tax lien against a Joseph Friedlander was misfiled as Joseph Freidlander, with the i and e reversed. In this case, Richter Loan Co. vs. United States, the misspelling was judged to be inconsequential enough not to invalidate the lien notification requirement. 

So that is the last word, I hope, about the wrong Ruby family and its luggage store. With a lot more work, maybe I could find Samuel Ruby's birth name and immigration data, which I am still curious about. But let's just leave the matter closed with the admonition not only to be alert to the possibility of coincidence but also to be very precise with your spelling.