AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN
I love everything about this photo! Ruby looks Spanish—so stylishly dressed with her dark bangs. She has such a confident expression.
She was a lifelong friend of Harriett and Della Cate, as well as Abbie and Themis Hutsell and others in their circle. I assume at some point her family lived in their McMinn County community but am not sure how long. She may have been an only child, as she never seemed to mention any relatives.
Ruby finished high school and moved to Knoxville where she was working in an office job by 1940. She owned her own home on McCalla Avenue, developed a strong network of friends and lived an independent life.
I have two letters Ruby wrote to Della—one from 1959 and one from 1977. In 1959, she mentioned she would be getting three weeks’ vacation from her job that year—and that she would probably just stay home. She also noted that she had a fall in the house that kept her hospitalized for two weeks, that she had bursitis in both arms and was about 40 pounds overweight. She was probably in her late 50s then. By 1977, she had retired to Parkwood Manor at 1024 N. Mary Street in Knoxville. Her health problems had worsened—she said she had been in the hospital to get cobalt treatments for osteoporosis. This had left her quite weak. She said she would work on her ceramics awhile and then lie down.
She was the ultimate giver of gifts! Every birthday and every Christmas, she sent Harriett a carefully chosen gift. In later years, it was something she made. She took up ceramics as a hobby and after she retired from her job, she developed a significant mail order business. She spoke of having customers in England, Montana, and Florida as well as locally! One Christmas she mentioned giving gifts to 75 different people!
One year she gave Harriett a lovely metallic floral pin. She wore it often for many years—and the pin is clearly visible in many of her photos. She also cherished the handmade ceramic pieces from her friend Ruby—white swan candleholders, candy dishes, bowls. Gifts that represented her generous lifelong friend Ruby.