Who are Rusty and Jewel

One of our most frequently asked questions is “Who are Rusty and Jewel?”

It was the ‘30s and we were in the middle of the Great Depression, challenging times met by resilient people. They had grit and courage. They were clever and inventive. A popular slogan at the time — Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without — sums up the lifestyle nicely.

People adopted new strategies to survive. Some people migrated throughout the country to find work. This was the birth of the “hobo.” Rusty was a hobo hopping from train to train, finding work wherever he could to help his mother and siblings at home.

Some people used their talents at home, darning socks and mending clothes when holes appeared, repairing worn out soles on shoes with pieces of old tires. They embraced their Victory Garden and raised whatever food they could. Everything was used until it just could not be used anymore. Today we call it upcycling or repurposing. This was Jewel.

Jewel lived by the tracks and Rusty was smitten. He thought she was magical. On his travels, Rusty was always on the lookout for a bit of “treasure” he could bring back to Jewel — a dusty, tossed-out tin or a key dropped to the ground from a hole in a pocket. He would wrap it up in a little piece of flour sack and tie it with twine.

Jewel was always excited to see Rusty walking up the dirt road after a long trip away, package in one hand, hat in the other. He was thrilled to watch her open it slowly and carefully as if it was a fragile piece of china. He could see the spark of a million ideas buzzing around her. It was electric in the air. He wouldn’t be able to see what had become of it until the next visit, and there would definitely be a next visit. It was the one thing that kept them both moving through the toughest of times with grace and joy