Saving the World
A constant parade of unemployed writers, between-gig actors, labor organizers, and fellow progressives showed up at the L.A. apartment, arguing politics over red wine and plates of pasta long into the night. Hugs and handshakes always followed the loud voices and f-bombs at evening’s end. Things were not like that at my house.
When her family moved back home to San Francisco, my aunt began contributing articles and photographs to her neighborhood newspaper, The Potrero View. She subsequently took on the roles of editor and publisher.
During her three decades at the paper, Ruth was honored for her service to The View, and to the Neighborhood House, a community center where she helped organize after-school programs, classes for adults, and events that celebrated the scrappy diversity of the “nabe.”
At an event honoring my aunt for her work, the mayor read a proclamation loaded with “whereases,” and declared a day in her honor. When he finished speaking, my father leaned toward me and pointed proudly at his “baby” sister. “Look at her—she’s the richest person in this room.” And I knew what he meant.
She said, “I’m not a writer like you”
Ruth never pandered to anyone: you could always count on her to be outspoken, feisty, honest but kind, and a champion of the underdog. She would confront racism or social injustice wherever she found it, no matter who the guilty party might be. And she mastered the art of being cool without even trying.
When I went back to graduate school at age 58, I hoped I could model myself after Ruth. She was always able to engage effortlessly with everyone: young and old, well-off and well-connected, or down-on-their luck.