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07 February 2012

Ruthie and Eddie. dress-designer, horse trainer.

Ruthie, a male-bodied dress-designer, took up with Eddie, a female-bodied horse-trainer, in El Paso, Texas in the 1930s. The used to act up together in gay bars, and were advised that their marriage was “urgently advisable”. They loved the idea that they could wear each other’s clothes.

Pat Highsmith, who met them in 1940 on a trip home from college, wrote: “Each would have liked the other’s body for his own to put clothes on ... [T]hey were ... finding the greatest pleasure in the world in buying clothes for each other - which neither wore - and which soon were taken back and worn by each respectively - which was what they’d wanted after all.”
  • Patricia Highsmith. Cahiers, 4 September 1940. Unpublished.
  • Joan Schenkar. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2009: 136.
We know of Ruthie and Eddie only because Pat Highsmith wrote about them in her notebooks, and then because Joan Schenkar used the anecdote in her biography of Highsmith.   How many tens of thousands are lost to history?

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