Column No. 32

There was plenty of time for recreation and social life in Ruby

Bob Ring, Al Ring, Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon

Life wasn’t all work in Ruby during the 1930s. There was plenty of time for recreation and social life.

Ruby residents played baseball on “White Stone Field” on the east side of Ruby Lake, on the tailings, a huge area of mining refuse, that looked and felt (still does) much like sand. The workers formed teams from the different shifts at the mine and mill. Families carried chairs and blankets to sit on while watching the bi-monthly, Saturday games.

The Company selected the best players to play on a “Ruby Miners” baseball team that played games with Oro Blanco, Tucson, and Nogales teams. Eagle-Picher provided uniforms and equipment.

Fred Noon (grandson of Oro Blanco area pioneer Adolphus Noon) played left field for the Ruby Miners.

Sammy Rosthenhausler grew up in Ruby and began a lifetime of baseball there. Rosthenhausler played shortstop for the Ruby Miners for three years.

In 1938, at age 18, when Sammy’s job took him to Mammoth, Arizona, where he was a mucker in the St. Anthony mine, he continued playing baseball for a semi-professional team. Sammy played ball in Mammoth in 1939 and 1940 for the Tigers.

Rosthenhausler spent the next six years as a paratrooper in World War II, resuming his baseball (this time international) playing with the El Paso Tejanos in 1946.

Meg Clarke, writing in The Connection, detailed Rosthenhausler’s subsequent career:

“Sammy earned a living for himself and his family by working in mining for twenty years, and then for the City of Tucson Water Department for another twenty years, all the while playing baseball.”

He played baseball and softball well into his 70s. Clarke continued:

“In 1992 his team at age 72 went to the Seniors Softball World Series in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was a single elimination tournament, where Sam and his team played sixteen games in seven days and won the Series. Sam, who played shortstop, was named ‘Most Valuable Player’ and was presented with a commemorative ring.”

Hunting was a favored recreation in the Ruby area. It was certainly one of Diesel Equipment Mechanic “Red” Worth’s favorite pastimes:

“I used to get home from work by three-thirty in the afternoon, pick up my rifle, go out into the hills, kill my deer, and be back home by sundown. We had quail and lots of rabbits and a few mountain lions. … A good- sized mountain lion would weigh about a hundred and fifty pounds. There was a pretty good bounty on them, too. I think it was fifty or seventy five dollars.”

Some Ruby residents (mostly men, but a few women too) enjoyed a nearby rifle range. Even non-hunters had fun target shooting.

In 1935, the National Rifle Association chartered the Ruby Gun Club with 43 members. Gun Club shooters traveled around the state and country, participating in rifle matches. “Red” Worth fondly recalled these competitions:

“We used to travel around Arizona for matches. Bisbee, Tucson, Fort Huachuca, Nogales, Phoenix. Fact of the matter is, when I went to the National Rifle Association matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, in 1936 and 1939, I won a place on the civilian rifle team representing the Ruby Gun Club and the state association. There were about 1,500 men shooting at those matches.”

Children’s games played at school during recess continued away from the playground. Mineworker’s daughter, Angela Coronado De Nault remembered that they played quite a few different games:

“We played Hopscotch, we played Jacks, we played with balls, we played a lot of ball games like dodge ball, corner ball, we played marbles, we learned to spin tops, hide-and-seek and then we used to have a game the we called ‘run sheep run’ and it was two separate teams from different families that would just roam those hills and guide the team where to go if they were getting warm to find us. It was similar to hide-and seek but it was in teams. So we had a good time there.”

Flying kites for the younger set was a popular form of recreation. Columnist Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon recalled her Ruby kite-flying days:

“Dad spent many hours making kites for us children and at one point, made a kite reel that, though it shows it’s use, remains in the family today. We were able to wind several balls of string on this reel and from the top of a hill north of our house, were able to fly our kites way out over Ruby Lake and the tailings.”

Games for adults included playing cards, mainly bridge. Cahoon remembered some people who played bridge:

“Annie and Erle D. ‘Ed’ Morton had bridge parties at their home, located up against ‘Snob Hill’ on Ruby’s west side. Mr. Morton was the General Manager of both the Montana mine and Ruby. I remember Mrs. Morton’s high-pitched voice and that she went around hugging all the kids, not necessarily what we kids enjoyed.”

The Boy Scouts organized in Ruby in 1935. The troop’s sponsors included General Manager Ed Morton and Dr. Julius Woodard. Leland D. Wilson served as the first Scoutmaster, with fifteen Ruby youths as charter members.

Besides everything else to do, there were special occasions for something different.

Anglea Coronado De Nault remembered that her dad was sometimes hired as a cowboy to put on a big barbeque at one of the ranches in nearby Arivaca:

“We [family of 15] used to pile up in the little truck my dad had. All of us used to go.”

And of course there were picnics. Picnics were a favorite special activity for De Nault’s large family:

“Between Arivaca and Ruby there was a real beautiful area with lots of trees. … We used to go to picnic right in that area. Sometimes we used to picnic by the lake (springs) in Arivaca and they had a lot of greenery there too. And then of course, the older girls used to picnic right there in Ruby in different areas”

Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon also remembers picnics:

“Families visiting with one another, picnicking, and/or wading in nearby streams, weather permitting, were forms of entertainment. Another activity, usually coupled with a picnic, was gathering bellotas, the acorns from the Arizona Oak Tree, or Scrub Oak as they are sometimes called. These matured in mid-summer. We filled gunnysacks to gather our edible treasures.”

Diesel Equipment Mechanic “Red” Worth’s wife, Ann Worth, remembered the special New Year’s parties:

“New Years Day and Eve were always big because up at mill superintendent’s house Ed Crabtree, there was always his annual party for employees. Food? You never saw such food set out on that long table.”

A real special occasion was a circus. Joe Ortiz remembered:

“A circus came once. I remember they had camels and a couple of elephants. I had never seen camels.”

(Sources: Interviews with Sammy Rosthenhausler, Joe Ortiz, and Angela Coronado De Nault; Dan B. McCarthy, “The Return to Ruby,” Phoenix Republic, October 1, 1972; Meg K. Clarke, The Connection, Arivaca, August 1993; Arizona Daily Star)

Baseball Game

Teams from the different mining and mill shifts played baseball on the sand-like mining tailings dump. (Photo courtesy Angela Coronado De Nault, circa 1935)

Boy Scouts

A dozen of Ruby’s Boy Scouts lined up, looking ready for a hike. (Photo courtesy of Angela Coronado De Nault, circa 1937)

Next time: The Ruby Mercantile Revisited

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