I recently found Bernard Freund on the 1940 census and discovered a new fact. He was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board at about the same time as my father-in-law.
When I went back and read the letter from his wife Ruth Field Freund to my sister-in-law I was informed that Ruth and my mother-in-law (the mystery woman, Sarah Riddner) had become good friends along with being cousins and visited each other as young women. From this I began to wonder if my in-laws, young marrieds themselves, introduced Bernard to Sarah’s cousin Ruth. [Now that I think of it, I wonder if my sister-in-law was named after Ruth Field.]
This introduction would have made some sense, but as I discovered, it wasn’t how it happened. Through doing an online search for Bernard Freund, I discovered that there is a collection of oral histories at the Ball State University library Special Collections that covers the history of Muncie, Indiana. Muncie is where the Freunds lived and raised their family. This oral history collection includes the MIddletown Jewish Oral History Projects, Pts 1 and 2 and these collections have two oral interviews by Bernard Freund about his family and one by his mother (Pearl Cohen) as well. The transcriptions are very interesting and provide a picture of what it was like to be Jewish in Muncie in the 1940s-late 1970s. They also provide, with some focused reading, names and activities of other relatives of the Freunds and Cohens.
In talking about the social life in Muncie and the social scene for the Jewish community, Bernard included how he happened to meet the woman he later married, Ruth Field of Fort Wayne. He said there was an organization called the Indiana Union of Jewish Youth, which had (he said) come into being to help young Jewish people from various cities meet each other. Most of the Jewish communities in Indiana were not very large and the young people found it difficult to meet others when they were interested in dating or getting married.
Bernard was not specific about when he met Ruth Field, but he was traveling for the NLRB until after the 1940 federal census was taken, They may well have met before that, since he talked about visiting both Muncie and Chicago. Ruth visited with her cousin Sarah (my mother-in-law) during the late 1930s in Chicago and she was a student at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, graduating (I think) in about 1938/1939. Sarah Riddner had studied in Chicago in 1937 and 1938 although we don’t know much about her experiences there. Ruth Field Freund’s letter to my sister-in-law said that she stayed at Sarah’s apartment several different weekends and that they shared a common woman friend in the young woman who later married Dr. J. Masserman, a local and noted psychiatrist.
By the 1940 federal census, Ruth Field was lodging in Clawson village in Michigan (described as part of the greater Detroit area) and teaching school in one of the public schools. I don’t know what she taught, or for how long. However, she and Bernard were married in September 1941 so my guess is that she only taught for a year or two.