Public eye: Ruth Greenberg, 93

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein


University Pl between 9th and 10th Sts

I think you might be the oldest person to be interviewed for Public Eye yet. What an honor.

Yet you seem more together than plenty of our younger subjects. What's your secret? My secret? Lots of salad. I was brought up on salad. [Laughs]

Your parents must have been ahead of their time. You mean because we weren't potato eaters? They were European-born—from Romania—and came here as young children, but they brought over their foods and customs.

Where did you grow up? Lower Manhattan, on 1st Street.

Did you live in a tiny tenement? Oh, I dunno. It was an apartment, we lived in it, it was perfectly fine. Today everything is tenements, tenements, tenements. There's a gentleman in my building who calls it a tenement. I resent that; it's degrading.

Understood! Who are these cuties? These are my sons, Sammy and Boy Capel.

Boy Capel? He was one of Coco Chanel's lovers. I was reading that when my daughter brought him to me.

So you have a daughter in addition to these sons, then. Oh yes. I have great-grandchildren. They live in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin! Yes, I'd never live there, but it's beautiful. I'm a Manhattanite, born and bred. I'd live no other place. I've lived in this neighborhood for nearly 52 years.

Are you retired? Ha! Yes. I worked for the induction board during the war. My husband and I had a factory on 27th Street. We made insignias for military uniforms. That's a mighty long time ago. My husband is gone now.

How did you two meet? Oh, we were introduced by a relative.

Like, you were set up? More or less.

Was it love at first sight? More or less.

You sound so enthusiastic. [Laughs] He was a very handsome man. I was married 51 years, you know. You have to live day to day.

What do you do day to day? Not much, just enjoy myself. I do this—sit on the sidewalk and watch the people go by—weather permitting. It's like a parade.

More from Ruth

"My boys are pugs. Sammy is 12 and Boy is 14 and a half. I do hate that they're getting older."

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Users say

7 comments
Anna
Anna

I know this article is from 2011, but I believe she may be my Grandfather's sister. Does anyone know if her maiden name was Weiss?

Anonymous
Anonymous

What a great interview! Ruth sounds like the real deal. Her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandchildren must be amazing!! Such a classy lady.

Jane
Jane

You look mahvelous, Ruth darling. Keep it up!

Kira
Kira

I'm the granddaughter of Ruth, mother of the great-grandchildren so fondly mentioned. Though we live in Madison, WI we are avid Time Out NY readers eagerly awaitng our subscription in the mail each week. Our favorite is always Public Eye. My 9 yr old daughter and I often say they should interview Nana (my mom) or GG (great-grandma). Either one would be perfect! Imagine our surprise to see our very own GG- looking beautiful and oh-so New York as ever! Way to pick 'em Kate. Next you need to catch up with my mom:)

Jeff
Jeff

Ruth is a beautiful dynamic lady! I know her daughter well, and she is the same, cut from the same cloth, shall we say. There is an old world elegance that just shines through. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Long live Ruth!!

Pamela
Pamela

Must say, great to see an "Oldie But Goodie" represented. Thrilled seeing a 93 year old savvy, good looking lady who is so enjoying life. Keep Up The Good Work....Public Eye! Thanks

Mara
Mara

Ruth Greenberg is a NY treasure and should be cherished. I can't get over how fashion forward she is. We should all be fortunate enough to be so beautiful at any age!