Seaside escape from the sweltering city

Seaside escape from the sweltering city

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

When we got to New York, we found a place to live in a rather shabby apartment building at 101st and Broadway on the sixth floor. We shared a common bathroom with the residents of six other apartments. My mother quickly found work in a small hat-making factory in the Garment District in Manhattan. Meanwhile, in those first days, I managed to connect with my friend, Ruth Nash, a beauty my age who was also from Berlin and had been part of our refugee crowd in France and Lisbon.

Ruth told my mother and I that it was terribly hot and humid in Manhattan during the summer, so why not rent a cheap place in Long Beach for June through August? Her family was doing just that and so were a lot of other German refugees. Coming from northern Europe, none of us were used to the equatorial summer heat in New York, and even with hardly any money, German Jewish refugees sought to flee the city for the summer.

So my mother and I went out to Long Beach to find a cute little apartment a few blocks from the beach. Ogi would take the train every morning to her job in a small hat factory in Garment District, and I ran the household in Long Beach, doing the shopping and cooking.

I have been critical of my mother for many things, but that was one of those times when I thought she was terrific. She had to go to work every day in a broiling factory, but instead of making me hang around the city and also suffer in the heat, she found us that place in Long Beach. Doing that added two long train rides to her already long and difficult day, but made it possible for me to be on the beach that summer.