Que Sera Sera


ruby, originally uploaded by Sarah Brown.

This is my great-grandmother Ruby, circa 1949. This photo is sort of legendary in our family. After hearing about it for years, my mom finally had it reprinted and framed for me. It sits on my desk, right over my computer screen.

There are lots of Ruby stories, aside from the story of this photo. According to my mom and her brother and cousins, if you called Ruby anything other than Ruby, you were in big trouble. You got spanked for calling her grandma. When you spent the night at Ruby and Granddad’s house, Ruby would feed you a glass of milk and little powdered donuts for breakfast, and then tell you to hang on a minute while she went outside and picked some fresh jalapeno peppers from her garden, which she would wash down with a glass bottle of RC Cola.

Another good Ruby story is how, when she was in her seventies, she was gardening one morning at her house in Midland, Texas, and a giant snake bit her. She hacked the snake into pieces with her hoe, put the pieces in a brown paper bag, and drove herself to the closest veterinarian, where she dumped the bag's contents on his table and asked if it was a poisonous snake. The vet looked at her like she was crazy and said, "Lady, go to the hospital!"

Ruby was a big fan of boxing. In the '50s and '60s, she had a small room turned into a den, with the only TV in the house, and on the night of a fight, she'd sit on the edge of the couch, yelling and swinging along with the boxers in her little shirtwaist dress. Granddad took Ruby took a boxing match only once, in the 1940s, and she was loudly rooting for the boxer the man in front of her was against. He turned around and said, "Lady, you need to shut up!" so she socked him across the face with her handbag. Granddad pulled her out of the match and never took her back.

My aunt Teresa has been doing a lot of genealogy tracking on our family over the past year. We've noticed that Ruby ages only eight years over the 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses.

I am very sad to have never known Ruby. Sometimes I feel more related to her than some of my relatives I’ve actually met.

Fun fact: Ruby is sitting in the same chair in this photo that I am sitting in in this one.

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