Helga met Stan in Long Beach before he shipped out

Helga met Stan in Long Beach before he shipped out

This is an except from The Ruby Family Histories (2006), written from Helga Ruby's point of view. 

I was one of hundreds of kids who used to hang out on the beach in front of the Nassau Hotel, which Ogi used to call the Nauseous Hotel. As I said, I arrived in America with a little English from grade school and lessons I took in Lisbon, but it was on the beach in Long Beach that I really learned how to speak English fluently. We were there not only during the summer of 1941, when I was 16 going on 17, but every summer for the rest of the war years.

My best friend and sometimes rival for male attention was Ruth Nash, the aforementioned beauty from Berlin. I dated a guy named Zola for the first couple of years and then my boyfriend was Sandy Count, who grew up with Dad on Long Beach. He was the most handsome, really gorgeous, creature around. He drove a convertible. Sandy wore thick glasses and didn’t go to the war because of his bad eyes. Eventually, Sandy became an expert carpenter and made beautiful furniture, which he sold for a lot of money.

I met Stan on the beach in the summer of 1944. He was there with a bunch of army buddies, including a lifelong friend from San Francisco, Dick Diamond. The two of them had been trained to run a radio installation, and expected they would be shipped to England, not the Pacific.

During the war, girls were writing to a number of soldiers to help keep their morale up, and even though Stan was not my boyfriend, I wrote to him once he went overseas. Stan had been dating a girl named Lorraine, a rich Jewish girl from West End Avenue. I didn’t think much of her, because I knew she started going out with other boys after he left for the Pacific. Of course, I didn’t write him about that.