I wanted to be treated as a human being who had earned a few rights since her orphanage days. ~ Marilyn Monroe
The Crusstos moved into my neighborhood when I was twelve. This meant saying goodbye to my best friend Wayno who left the same house they moved in to… I was sad. The neighborhood parents talked about the new neighbors John and Ruth.
Ruth had beautiful red henna hair and a slim figure which she always showed off. I heard she once was a dancer in Las Vegas. I did not always listen to her stories. I wish I could go back now and listen more intently. I do remember what she told me about Marilyn Monroe.
Ruth also came from a troubled past. She met Marilyn when they were living at a boarding house for young girls without families.
“Norma was her name then.” Ruth said.
“You knew an actress like her?”
“Norma always was a little dramatic with her gestures…she was not an actress then…we were just a couple of teenagers who liked going out on a lark.”
“What do you mean?”
“Norma and I would often break out at night and walk Hollywood Blvd and have so much fun together.” Then Ruth said, “She was a wild girl, that Norma.”
Looking at Ruth she still had a wildness about her. She pronounced her words very clearly and often made comments to me on how to pronounce words properly. One thing I knew about her, that I found very strange, is that she did not wear underwear under her dresses or pants. The neighborhood parents talked!
John Crussto was a Fire Chief at the local fire-station. Ruth was a waitress at a local steakhouse on Ventura Blvd. I often saw Ruth drink her liquor straight up.
Ruth taught me how-to put-on mascara. It was vintage Maybelline mascara in a little red box. She carefully showed me by holding a little black mascara comb with a generous supply of mascara up to her eyelashes. Then she let the eyelashes do the work by blinking. The blinking put a generous supply of makeup on her eyelashes
There was always music playing on the stereo at the Crusstos. Frank Sinatra’s hit song “Tramp” was her favorite song.
Looking back, I am amazed that at fifty Ruth could still kick her leg up as high as a girl in a chorus line, just be careful where you were looking.