“In Memory of a Precious Sister, Ruby Grace Lundquist Smuin,” Written by Elsie Lundquist McNabb and edited by Wallace F. Gray.
Our parents were devoted to the Church. They gave us a true religious background. We each had our regular duties helping in the store and the home, but Ruby, being six and one-half years older than I, was a working girl. She always had good jobs, probably doing housework in homes until she was older. Then she worked at the Paris Millinery Shop with Frances Von Hake Anderson and later at the Western Union. Our father, ever struggling to make the income stretch for his large family, looked for us to help by paying board and room as soon as we could.
Ruby was always held in high esteem, not only because she was working, but because she had a beautiful personality. She was often referred to as the “jewel of the family,” generous, considerate, shared her earnings with me, and always pleasant. I believe she helped Dad regularly in support of our brother Roy’s mission.
Dick, Ruby and Carl all enjoyed the gift of drawing and painting. Ruby was always tastefully and well groomed with hat and gloves. She often made dresses for me, and how I strutted in them. We have one picture together in our new dresses and hats. I adored her, but I was never old enough to join her with her friends.
As a young girl, all I wanted to do was please her and wait for her to come home. Anything I made at school was for her, and I would watch to see if she would use it. She usually put those little creations carefully away.
Ruby and I had a bedroom together, upstairs, overlooking the alley, and I always thought it was attractive with feminine frills and curtains. The boys had a big dorm on the other side and Mother and Dad were in the front bedroom. Carl later fixed up a small slanted roof room on the north end for his studio and bedroom, and we loved to go up there and watch him paint and talk to him. Carl was called the peacemaker in the home. He died of sunstroke at age 18.
We also had a long attic over the store where we hung clothes on rainy days. I remember testing our amateur radios up there. It could be freezing cold or miserably hot in our sleeping quarters, according to the weather, and I remember taking a hot brick wrapped in flannel or a hot water bottle to bed with me to keep me warm.
We had a large kitchen with a long table in it where many a meal we had and more than one head down getting lessons at night. Dad never missed family prayer, and he often read from a little black book of verses, words of our hymns. We took turns in family prayers. We probably overate coffee cake from the store and we had lots of homemade bread. Monday was wash day and it went on all day until I got home from school when I would help ring the cold socks through the second water and hang them out and then scrub the big floor.
During the great flu epidemic I was scrubbing that floor and got so sick I couldn’t finish. Ruby was visiting with the Von Hakes when the flu hit her, and she stayed down there, very sick for a couple of weeks.
We all went to the movies or the Pantages Vaudeville about once a week and quite often to the Salt Lake Opera and sat in the third circle for 50 cents. If we had a beau, then we sat in the dress circle. After the show we would always take in a soda at one of the pharmacies or Kelley’s Ice Cream parlor. On General Conference Sunday, there was no question of not getting in. It was a big family event and then afterwards we would walk around the grounds. We often walked up the ridge route to City Creek Canyon with a sweater and lunch tied on our back, and then walked down Memorial Road coming home, just a beautiful area.
I don’t remember all of Ruby’s beaux, but I do know she was very fond of Dick Von Hake, a brother to Frances, and they had many a good time together. However, this romance went on the rocks and I know this hurt her for some time.
How she met Frank Smuin I am not sure except through Dr. Pugmire, whose wife, Hattie, was Frank’s sister. Dr. Pugmire was our doctor for eyes, ear, nose and throat troubles.He operated on Ruby to remove her tonsils. This was done on our kitchen table. I remember that she bled quite badly.
Frank and Ruby were married in the Salt Lake Temple and then they came back to our home for a family and friends brunch. I believe Frank was not working at the time. He had always worked for his father in a merchandising store in Idaho and then went in the army.
Soon after they were married Frank became very ill with inflammatory rheumatism and was in the hospital for some time. His whole body seemed swollen with the disease. This left him very weak and also affected his heart. Dr. Pugmire made intervention for him to receive regular compensation from the government, since this seemed to have been the result of the flu he suffered while in the service.
I had been working as a secretary at the Buick Motor Co., and I took a leave of absence for my health and went to California and stayed with the Von Hakes in Santa Monica. When Ruby and Frank came down to Glendale, California, I stayed with them and got a job at Butterfield and Butterfield, a plumbing company, where I met Don McNabb. Those were happy days.
We had most of our old friends within driving distance, and we formed a club, meeting about once a month. Don broke his wrist cranking his truck and Ruby and Frank made their home welcome to him. We would play Pinochle and other games together and always had delicious meals and snacks. Don loved Ruby and Frank, and we had lots of fun. Frank and Ruby were active in the Church and I remember that Frank gave a good talk in sacrament meeting. He really didn’t feel very secure and he would go into a heavy sweat most any time which would embarrass him. But he was an excellent speaker and had a good knowledge of the gospel. Later he spent many years writing a book on a deep subject, “God is our Progenitor.”
After a year or so Ruby and Frank decided to go back to Salt Lake. I quit my job and went with them, saying goodbye to Don who has asked me to marry him. (I turned him down, wanting to marry someone in the Church.) Ruby was pregnant with Glen, and they found a very nice home on Westminster Ave. Once again I stayed with them until Roy and George asked me to come and find an apartment for the three of us closer to town.
Glen was a dear little baby, blond, but had the misfortune to get a mastoid behind the ear, was operated on and he could not pull through. That was a sad tragedy for them. Soon after they moved to Eagle Rock, California. (They later moved to San Gabriel, California.) Don and I wrote to each other and after about 14 months he came to Salt Lake and joined the Church. We were married. We did not see Ruby and Frank until the Depression set in and we were invited to come to California and make a home for George who was working at Goodrich Rubber Co.
By then Frances was born and I was pregnant with Gordon. Seems like Grace was born before they went to California because we have pictures of Don holding Frances and Grace at their home in Salt Lake. We went first to Ruby’s, and she and Frank took us over to Maywood where we found a nice apartment in a court for $18 a month. Those were hard times. We went over to visit Ruby and Frank and they would visit us. Ruby would bring many things she thought I could wear or clothes for the children. I wore a pair of shoes of hers for a long time which were too big for me.
George married Mildred Pugmire, daughter of Dr. and Hattie Pugmire. Seemed like we always had Thanksgiving dinner over in San Gabriel at Ruby and Frank’s. It was a long trek by bus and train, but it was worth it to have the warm welcome, especially after we lost Don. Mildred and George lived close by and Aunt Helen Simpson came over often. This was the gathering place of the family. I thought no one could cook like Ruby. She always had pretty arrangements in the home of the different flowers she and Frank grew. There were lots of roses and Cecil Brunner roses and always nuts and goodies around. We had many a leisure visit and lounging out in the back under their Chinese elm tree. We had watermelon on the Fourth of July celebrations.
Ruby felt the need of going to work as Grace and Marilyn grew up, so she took a beauty course and worked several years in a shop which she eventually took over herself. She was well known and loved for her special kind of friendship, thoughtfulness and love. She entertained many of her friends.
But it was at this time that she had an examination by her doctor and found she had a lump in her breast. During the operation, at first, the doctor couldn’t find the tumor, then he looked further and found a well developed tumor which proved to be cancerous. Since Frank had become more dependent on her and the girls were in their teens and she was really the main-stay of the family, this was a terrible shock and heavy burden on Ruby. She kept going after recuperating and continued going to her beauty shop, but now it was an uphill grind. I used to come over as often as I could on weekends and holidays.
Ruby kept things to herself and never complained. She had very severe headaches, and I believe it was because she felt responsible and worried by herself and did not burden anyone with her load. She came down to our home in Escondido one time and to a degree poured out her heart to me. She did not take many pills or medication for the pain and discomfort she was enduring, especially in her legs, but when I gave her some Donatol tablets, she slept well that night and she asked for more.
It was on a week’s vacation I had and went over to stay with Ruby and Frank that I found her critically ill, hardly able to breathe, with a severe cold and bronchial or tracheal congestion. I urged Frank to get the doctor who immediately put her in the hospital. After many days of intensive care she was getting better. I stayed with her at the hospital most of a day when she was depressed. I read to her a talk given in General Conference by Patriarch Eldred G. Smith on “why we have to go through such trials.” She seemed to have found the peace of mind she needed to go on fighting.
I have always kept that Improvement Era separate from other literature because I felt it was through the guidance of the Holy Ghost that I came to read that article to her. When Ruby came home she looked like she had been through a terrible ordeal as indeed she had, and I stayed with her another week. Never have I wished so much to be free from my work at Palomar College so I could stay and be with my sister who had loved me with all my faults and failings more than anyone else. She had been so good to me and our children. Her letters were so dear. She and Frank used to come over as often as they could, and their place was home to me. I wanted to stay and nurse her back to health and take the worried look away from her beautiful eyes, but I had to keep my job.
Marilyn, with her baby, came as often as she could, and Grace lived much further away and it was more difficult for her to get down very often. Ruby found her courage and pulled herself back to comparative health and strength, but from then on she began to fail. She went back to her beauty shop and kept up almost to the very last. She asked for the Elders of the Church to come and administer to her quite often so her pain would be relieved. I used to go up on weekends, drive to Oceanside, take the train to Los Angeles and transfer to the bus to San Gabriel.
Those were the days I love to remember for we had many happy hours cooking, talking, relaxing out in their garden. She could still drive and I had come up to help her do some Christmas shopping and help get her cards out.
This was her last Christmas and I am sure she felt it might be for she wanted all her patrons of her hair styling shop to receive a card and every friend. Her legs bothered her a great deal now and sleep was hard to come by.
Ruby used to give me a permanent whenever I needed one, and she was so interested in my work when I had to attend a bookstore convention at Berkeley or Los Angeles and always helped me choose the things I should wear.
Her greatest joy and ambition was to see their girls educated and married to good husbands, and she was able to see two of her grandchildren. She and Frank were happy in their marriage. I have not mentioned the pride and pleasure they had when Marilyn was chosen to be the Rose Queen only a few years before Ruby died. She was even able to go to Texas when Marilyn was invited as a guest and past queen.
The girls re-did her bedroom with some pretty pink curtains and she loved and appreciated everything done for her. After my last visit, I had a dream about her. She had often said she wished she could be active in Church and do the things I was doing. I dreamed that Ruby had my dress on and was very beautiful and very happy and busy with a smile on her face, going about her work. I felt this was a premonition that she would soon be called home and be free to be active in the work she loved.
She had written out her wishes for her funeral services, but we did not find it until later. Many of her wishes were carried out when Frank joined her and services were held for him.
I know they were both happy to be relieved of the physical and mental suffering which they endured so patiently in their beloved home. I also know for sure that they are keenly concerned in the lives of their two daughters and their families and are also very proud of their achievement and activity in the Church.
Biography 2 (Written by Ruby’s daughter Grace Helen Smuin Laemmlen as part of her life story.)
My mother, Ruby Grace Lundquist Smuin, was born in Salt Lake City January 6, 1898. She was a gentle, loving and caring lady. All loved her. I remember Mom and the beautiful red rose bushes along the entire length of one side of our home in Eagle Rock. How she loved roses! She would mulch them, spray them with a little hand sprayer, prune them, pinch back buds to make larger blooms, and care for them so tenderly. On the opposite side of the lawn was her flower garden with so many beautiful flowers of all kinds. I especially remember the yellow cosmos and when they turned to seed, how intriguing it was to pull them apart seed by seed. Also among the variety of flowers were her specialty of roses and sweet peas. There were tall blue delphiniums, zinnias, marigolds, and even a row of beets and onions planted in between. It was always colorful. There were always fresh cut flowers in the house. Our small back yard had two apricot trees with a swing in each one. It was shady in the yard and there was a spot for violets and mint. By the time I was 10 I knew the names of nearly all common flowers and shrubs.
Smuin home in San Gabriel
Mary Flory Lundquist Roberts’ Memory of Ruby Lundquist Smuin (Mary was a half-sister to Ruby.)
I remember a few things when I was a little girl. Our dad [Emanuel Richard Lundquist] died one night in his sleep. I heard Ruby say to Elsie, “He’s with Mother now.” I couldn’t quite understand it, but that’s the way it was. I remember your mother loved flowers so. In Glendale she saved the apple peelings to dig in under the rose bushes. She said it made them prettier with more color. Also once when I visited your family in Glendale your mother fixed me some fresh figs covered with a bit of cream and brown sugar. Needless to say I loved the taste, and still do to this day. Clyde [Mary’s husband] always said Ruby was the best one in the family. She always had such a sweet disposition.
I remember your mother and dad had a breakfast or lunch after their marriage ceremony and it consisted of raw oysters. I could never understand why anyone could relish oysters.
Cooking and Handiwork
We all remember Mom’s favorite place, the kitchen. What wonderful meals! Especially on Sunday, we came home from Church to that tantalizing aroma of roast beef, mashed potatoes, rich brown gravy and always fresh vegetables. Dessert was often sponge cake layered with raspberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar on top. Dad’s specialty was turning the crank for the freezer of homemade vanilla ice cream. Meals were not “fancy” but always delicious. Homemade bread, warm from the oven after school was torn apart, smothered with butter and honey and devoured in minutes. Company and holiday meals were memorable events. Everyone loved to come to our place for dinner. My interest and love for cooking began early and I learned a lot from Mom.
She always loved handiwork and made numerous crocheted items, and did cross stitch and embroidery. She took night classes in basketry, lampshade making, and decorative pillow making. She also loved to read, especially historical novels. She had many artistic talents. After we moved to San Gabriel in 1941 she thought about going back to work. She was a cosmetologist and started back to work when I was halfway through high school. She worked at the Del Mar Beauty shop in San Gabriel, and a few years later became manager, and then owner of the business.
Styles of the 1950s
All was going well until she began getting extremely tired and after work would just collapse at home. In 1952 it was discovered she had breast cancer. She continued to work at the beauty shop until nearly the end of her life. She died on February 19, 1959. Her cause of death was listed as “adenocarcinoma of breast” and the last 6 months of her life, “metastatic cancer to lungs and liver. She was 61 years old. I was with her at the end. She died in my arms. She was a wonderful mother; how I loved her and wanted to be like her.
Ruby and Frank Smuin are buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, Los Angeles.
Nancy Ann Lundquist Londelius is my grandmother’s niece. She sent me her memories of visiting Ruby’s Beauty Shop when she was a girl: