Ruby Lee


Aunt Ruby in a groove rocking the blonde hair

Aunt Ruby could be identified by her customized ruby jeweled name bracelet or by the personalized plates on the white Cadillac Fleetwood she drove throughout the 80s. She might even be identified by her 6-foot stature or the oft-discussed garments she threw over her southern frame.

But her voice and the words she employed with it were what truly distinguished Ruby Lee Battle from any other human to ever walk the earth. In a vocal style that I can only compare to a bebop-playing trumpet, the Dallas, Texas born badass cussed and quipped and rattled off stories about her illustrious past. 

The first time I met Aunt Ruby, I was also introduced to two of her guns. One of which held bullets that would “chase you around the corner” if a perpetrator got out of her sights too fast. She lived in Las Vegas -- her retiring place-- by then, in a condo where she concealed a pearl-handled pistol in a shower cap near her bed to chase off riff raff who may have taken her for sweet. The move came after decades in LA and an attempt to move back to Dallas that was thwarted by a shiesty family member who misappropriated funds dedicated to build her a house in her birthplace. 

Vegas may have been the perfect place for Ruby, though. She could play cards and the slots as she pleased. It was one of the few places on the planet that could match her flare. 

In the 1960s, as the Great Migration brought Black people from the doldrums of life in the South to soon-to-be “urbanized” cities in America, Ruby Lee arrived in Los Angeles with four sons and a hitched trailer to carve out a prosperous life of her own. And in several ways, she did. From a decades-long position at the Post Office to owning an apartment complex on Figueroa in South Central, she found success and stability in ways many only dream. 

Aunt Ruby and a friend in front of a South Central home

Also, in what can only be described as a net victory, Ruby once, in self-defense, shot a man she was dating in his rear-end. As the legend goes, she went to visit the man in the hospital soon after. He saw her, smiled, and said something to the effect of “you so crazy”. 

With her wins, however, came massive loss. By the turn of the millennium, three of Ruby’s sons had died in various circumstances. 

Somehow, she managed to shine still; just the way rubies do. She remained as generous as always -- giving without the fear she might lose more. 

 Ever so lively, ever so genuine, ever so unique, she shall never be forgotten.

This is dedicated to her.