Several summers growing up in Oklahoma City, I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful Jewish girl that was a few years older than I. Ruth was very sophisticated and worldly (in my eyes at least) because she had been reared in New York City. Her father was a well respected NYC concert pianist as well as a teacher, who spent summers teaching piano in Oklahoma City, so he certainly wasn't attempting to escape the heat of New York City. It was much worse in humid Oklahoma, trust me. He must have had some promising students in Okie City, without doubt. Ruth is the one on the left.
I believe that it was this time in my life when I fell in love with classical music. Even though Ruth and I would spend long summer days at the Lakeview Towers pool, we could always hear the piano's music floating down from their apartment window. No one even had boom boxes back then, in the late 1960's. I also became as much like Ruth as I possibly could because I admired her so much. She read fashion magazines, wrote poetry, used face creams and makeup, visited art galleries and museums, wore little French heels (my mother still had me wearing those gawd-awful saddle oxfords and Hush Puppies, which meant I might as well have tattooed *NERD* across my forehead.Those shoes were the social equivalent of the *kiss of death*), she read Hemmingway, Steinbeck, e e cummings & Kesey, smoked dainty cigars in public, and looked like Audrey Hepburn with jet black hair and olive skin. Ruth aspired to be a ballerina which fascinated me since I was a total klutz and still am. She was marvelous, really. I think she's still my idol although I'd not thought about her in as many years.
We stayed pen-pals and friends for a number of years to come and yet, I can't remember now why we stopped writing, nor can I remember when. Still, I can't help but wonder where she is now, although I'm certain that she's happy, wherever she is. She was always the highlight of my summers during *the awkward years*. She taught me how to make myself attractive and to take care of myself, for which I will always be grateful. She also taught me how to venture out on the ledge of fashion, which is still a difficult task for me to this day. It was always so easy for Ruth because no matter what she wore, she always looked elegant and classy. I, on the other hand, was an awkward 14 year old who didn't have any style of my own, to speak of. I practically worshiped Ruth and her innovative style. Apparently, I was just one of many.
I'd assumed that she'd married long ago, so I wasn't really expecting to find any information about her. So, I decided to do a google search on her only to discover she has become famous for her Israeli Dance contributions as one of the founding pioneers. Born and raised in New York City, she still teaches dance classes all over the world, but mainly in Brooklyn, where she was reared. The internet is certainly a powerful tool for navigating through the echoes of one's past. Ruth was one of my many *guiding lights*. I'm not even sure that she'll remember me (No one else ever did since my mother moved us around so much) but I'm taking the plunge here and sending her an email. We'll see if I get a response. Once I saw the internet picture of Ruth (above), I had no doubts that it was her. However, I've been embarrassingly wrong before, as many of you well know.
Have you had someone who influenced your life like Ruth?