Ruby Viola Strausburg was born in 1909 in Kansas. Ruby and her family moved to Fergus when she was 5 years old. Ruby’s father, Sam, was on the school board while Ruby was growing up. Sam and the school board built a new school in 1919, and Ruby’s class was actually the first class to graduate out of that new high school! Currently the Fergus County High School is known as the “Old Fergus High School” and is on the National Register of Historic Places (1985). The first two units of the high school were designed by architecht J.G. Link, who was actually born in Bavaria. He moved to Butte in 1896, then to Billings in 1902.
Ruby married Harrold in 1932. Together, they enjoyed going dancing and playing cards, including Rummy and Cribbage. Ruby was a pretty good cribbage player! Harrold and Ruby were also quite the pair while dancing, and were great at polka and waltzing. Other hobbies of Ruby’s included being part of the Sunshine Women’s Club, cooking, and sewing.
We romanticize Ruby’s cooking and baking as being wonderful using the ingredients that were available. While she was an excellent cook, cooking was more of a necessity for her. She enjoyed cooking and sewing for her children, and made all their clothes as well as their meals. A family favorite was Ruby’s fried chicken, which she cooked in cast iron on a wood stove. The children also liked her macaroni and cheese, a recipe I couldn’t find but have made up below! On Sundays, the children were allowed to have store bought cereal for breakfast as a treat. My grandpa liked the cereal that came as giant hay bales, like frosted wheat without the frosting.
Because they didn’t have fridges, the family ate a lot of cured meat, mostly pork and chicken. Because of this, Ruby was NOT very good at cooking a steak. They often ended up overcooked and tough. Hey, not everyone can be perfect at cooking everything!
I hope you enjoyed a little bit about learning a bit more about Ruby! I really enjoyed talking to my grandfather about his childhood and bringing up some of those fun memories! I have adapted one of my favorite Mac & Cheese recipes to match the meal that my grandpa described to me. It reminds me of a very cheesy goulash! I hope you enjoy it!