Column No. 43

Ruby Reunions

Bob Ring, Al Ring, Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon

Three weeks before the May 9, 1993 television broadcast of the PBS Natural History program on Ruby, Pat and Howard Frederick hosted the first reunion of former residents of the mining camp.

Some of the people who lived in Ruby in the 1930s actually requested the reunion. As Pat Frederick put it in Arivaca’s The Connection:

“The gates have been locked so long to what a lot of people consider their hometown.

“Ruby owners are wanting to preserve the oral history of Ruby by sponsoring a Ruby reunion. All who worked or lived in Ruby before it was abandoned in the 1940s are cordially invited to attend.”

Frederick encouraged attendees to “bring their memories and any memorabilia and visit with others who used to live in their hometown.”

The date of that first Ruby reunion was Saturday, April 17, 1993. The Fredericks were overjoyed to host 450 attendees!

Traffic was a problem. There was a single line of traffic on the dirt Ruby road. Parking was a problem. Cars parked on the tailings pond and visitors had to use donated golf carts to get to the gathering place and picnic tables. But everyone had a great time, renewing old friendships and sharing memories of an (now remembered) idyllic life some half-century earlier.

A few weeks after the big event, Maggie Millinovitch wrote her impressions in Arivaca’s The Connection:

“People came from other states to return to this special place. Everywhere you looked there were smiling faces, cries of joy and hugs of people who hadn’t seen each other in many years, and families reunited. The majority of those who came were Hispanic, either the workers or the children of workers, who had spent their youth in the mining town.

“A number of people I talked to hadn’t been back during the 50 plus years that the town has been closed. They looked for the houses they had lived in, many of which over the years have been dismantled or destroyed. Many of the workers lived in tents with their families and those folks just pointed to where their tent used to be.

Anubis Productions of Tucson, the company that had helped produce the PBS television show on Ruby, video-taped a number of interviews with former residents attending the reunion. They combined these fascinating oral histories with an 8mm film shot in 1939 of the only known live action images of Ruby’s adults and children at work and play and the mine and mill in operation. The resulting videotape, “Remembering Ruby,” is available through Anubis Productions International, P.O. Box 50589, Tucson, AZ, 85703.

The owners of Ruby were so happy with the first reunion that they made subsequent reunions a tradition. The complete list of Ruby reunions to date is:

First Reunion April 17, 1993
Second Reunion April 13, 1996
Third Reunion April 15, 2000
Fourth Reunion April 28, 2001
Fifth Reunion April 20, 2002

Typically, 100-200 people attended the reunions that came after the first Ruby reunion.

Each reunion year, the Frederick’s invitation “advertised” food, music, and dancing. In the recent past, they charged $6.00 for registration and $5.00 for lunch, if requested. The Fredericks also provide specially made monogrammed Ruby T-shirts and baseball caps for a nominal fee.

There are currently no plans for the sixth Ruby reunion.

(Sources: The Connection, Interview with Pat and Howard Frederick)

Pat and Howard Frederick stand ready to greet attendees at the Ruby reunion in 2000. (Photo by Bob Ring)
These former Ruby residents enjoyed swapping memories at the 1993 Ruby reunion. Seated from left to right are Heriberto “Eddie” Miranda, Leo Leal, Epifanio “Epi” Miranda, and Sammy Rosthenhausler. (Photo by Tallia Pfrimmer Cahoon)

Charlie Foltz, who worked in Ruby as a miner in the 1930s, wrote this poem to commemorate the first Ruby reunion in 1993. (Courtesy The Connection)

Next Time: Ruby the Ghost Town

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