Recent Posts for the 'Profiles' Category

International Women’s Day as Part of Women’s History Month: Focus on Ruth Gruber, International Photo-Journalist

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

From Wikipedia: Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.[1]


To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day this year I decided to feature a woman who was an international  journalist at a very young age. I have been so impressed by her life that she has become my role model for living a long and fruitful life, pushing back marriage and children at a time when not being married was considered a flaw and pursuing a journalistic journey. But I am getting ahead of myself…..

Last month I saw a PBS special called Ahead of Time, which is actually the name of Ruth Gruber’s autobiography. She was born in 1911, and lived 105 years, until November 17th, 2016, so I cannot understand why I did not read or hear about her before. She was a feminist before the word was coined; she was the youngest PhD at the time, having obtained it at the age of 20, and she was the first woman to report about Russia’s exploration in the Arctic. Her life was amazing! This picture is from Wikipedia and shows Ruth in 2007 at 96 years of age, still looking bright and energetic.

 I honor Ruth Gruber on International Women’s Day, 2018.


Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about Ruth Gruber:

During World War II, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes appointed Gruber as his Special Assistant. In this role, she carried out a study on the prospects of Alaska for homesteading G.I.s after the war.[6] In 1944, she was assigned a secret mission to Europe to bring one thousand Jewish refugees and wounded American soldiers from Italy to the US.[7] Ickes made her “a simulated general” so in case the military aircraft she flew in was shot down and she was caught by the Nazis, she would be kept alive according to the Geneva Convention.[8] Throughout the voyage, the Army troop transport Henry Gibbins was hunted by Nazi seaplanes and U-boats. Gruber’s book Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America was based on case histories she recorded as she interviewed the refugees.

And this is just an excerpt of her early career. Wikipedia has her biography broken down into Early Life; her role as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, Exodus 1947 about her voyage to meet the refugees in Cyprus and accompanying them on their journey which, unfortunately, returned them to Germany; After 1951 when she was married and had two children in her 40s and continued to write. Here is a list of her books. I have already read five of them and have ordered more from the library and two from Amazon: Raquel: A Woman of Israel and Ahead of Time, her autobiography. Below the list is my mini-review of Raquel.

Books by Ruth Gruber    (from Wikipedia article)

  • Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the Twentieth Century Tells Her Story
    Schocken (2007) ISBN 0-8052-4243-0
  • Virginia Woolf: The Will To Create As A Woman, 2005
  • Inside of Time: My Journey from Alaska to Israel, 2002, 2004
  • Exodus 1947: The Ship That Launched the Nation, 1999 (ISBN 0-8129-3154-8), 2007
  • Ahead of Time: My Early Years As a Foreign Correspondent, 1991, 2001
  • Rescue: The Exodus of the Ethiopian Jews, 1987
  • Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America, 1983, 2000
  • Raquela: A Woman of Israel, 1978, 1985, 1993, 2000* (See cover & note below)
  • They Came to Stay (coauthor: Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky), 1976
  • Die Bauern-Passion Von Waal (coauthors: Ursula Zeidler, Gerhard Eberts), 1976
  • Felisa Rincon De Gautier: The Mayor of San Juan, 1972
  • Puerto Rico: island of promise
  • Israel on the seventh day, 1968
  • Israel today: Land of many nations, 1958
  • Israel without tears, 1950
  • Destination Palestine: The story of the Haganah ship Exodus 1947, 1948
  • I Went To The Soviet Union, 1944
  • I Went to the Soviet Arctic, 1939, 199
    (As I celebrate my 12 anniversary of blogging Menupause, I wish I could have interviewed Ruth in person for Menupause while she was still alive.I started this in 2006, and she did not die until 2016, so such an interview could have happened.  My loss!)

    *I plan to review this terrific book later in the month


  • P.S. Three Tidbits to share:#1) On International Women’s Day 2017, Iceland became the first country in the world to make equal pay compulsory by law. Two days later, India passed a bill giving every working woman in the country 26 weeks of compulsory maternity leave. Economic Times, From Future Crunch,

    #2) Below is a photo of a tea that purchased at our local cheese shop with many unusual items. This hand-made paper covered box and its delicious roibos tea is created by women in Africa and the proceeds go to educating their children. the tea costs about $10.00 so it is pricey, but consider it a delicious donation!


#3)  In the Saturday edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer is a touching cartoon called Six Chix. In the first frame, a little girl hands her teacher a card and says, “Happy Women’s History Month, Ms. Smith. I got you a card! The second frame says: Because when I grow up I’ll always remember how you made my class so fun and interesting…so you’ll always be part of MY history.”  In the corner of the second frame in small print is: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY  MARCH 8, 2018.
Thanx, Six Chix!

Celebrate International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month
in whatever way
supports women all over the world.

Joyce Kilmer, Poet of “Trees”

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

First, thanks to my friend Sylvia, who sent me the comment on the postings for trees, noting this is the 100th anniversary of Joyce Kilmer’s death in a WWI battle in July 1918. He was only 32.

Second, this is a follow-up to my two other postings on trees. Here are the links in case you missed them:

Third,  here is the link Sylvia sent later to my email about Kilmer. All the information in this posting, including the poem: is from this website,

Note: I feel a strong affinity to Joyce Kilmer because he was born in New
Brunswick, NJ.  and I was born not far from there in what is now Hamilton, NJ.
I also attended Douglass College, a division of Rutgers, a short distance across town from Rutgers, and I actually visited the Joyce Kilmer Tree, which is no longer living. (See my P.S. below)

According to the Poetry Foundation article, Joyce Kilmer’s poetry “celebrated the common beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith.” Dying in a WWI battle, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) for his bravery, There is also a National Forest in North Carolina named after Kilmer as well as other tributes of him to be found on the Internet.

As noted above, he graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and also Columbia University in New York. He was the literary editor for a religious newspaper called The Churchman, and later became a staff member of the New York Times. (He was considered the leading Catholic American poet of his generation.)

Even though he was not required to join the military because he was a family man, he did enlist in 1917, and after a request, he transferred to the infantry and then was deployed to Europe. He quickly rose in rank  and served as an intelligence officer. He collected data and information from the enemy front line. He was killed by a sniper’s bullet in the battle of Ourcq.

Kilmer wrote Trees in 1914. Here is what the Poetry Foundation notes about this poem:

“His strong religious faith and dedication to the natural beauty of the world influences much of Kilmer’s work. “Trees” is unique for its personification of the tree in the poem, and became most popular after his death—in the 1940s and 1950s—even being put to music.”

Here is the poem from the website:



I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.


P.S. I Googled for a picture of the actual Joyce Kilmer tree and in, and here is an excerpt from an article entitled:
By HERBERT MITGANG Published: December 5, 1986
(The “e” in Rutgers is omitted, either on purpose or by accident. es)

“To commemorate the centennial of the writer whose name is forever associated with one 12-line verse, ”Trees,” a 10-foot white oak (Quercus alba) was planted yesterday on the Rutgers University campus by the Shade Tree Bureau of the New Brunswick Parks Department.

It replaces a 200-year-old white oak that had a 120-foot limb spread and stood near the Rutgers Labor Education Center, south of Douglass College. The huge tree that the poet wrote ‘only God can make’ died of old age and was removed by a team of five tree surgeons a quarter of a century ago.”

After a lengthy search for the tree that inspired Kilmer’s Poem, I found this photo and note on eBay. There are many trees on many sites, but this is the only one I found that is supposedly the original tree.

1961 Press Photo New Brunswick, NJ: giant oak that inspired Kilmer poem “Trees”