Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born 90 years ago, on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium, the daughter of a member of minor Dutch nobility and a peripatetic English financier father who later changed his name to the double-barrelled “Hepburn-Ruston” to show his connection (probably imagined) to one of the husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Her childhood (ably, and very readably, documented in the new book Dutch Girl), was spent bouncing around the world and trying to find her feet wherever she landed. A withdrawn and reserved child, she was uncomfortable around others, always felt awkward and out of place, and never thought she was “good enough” to please her parents. She eventually found her passion in dance, committing herself to ballet while in school in England, and then continuing with her studies when her mother moved back to Holland with her, to keep her “safe” after the outbreak of German/British hostilities. Of course, she wasn’t safe in Holland either, once the Germans began their occupation, and she suffered the horror of her beloved Uncle Otto, together with a cousin, being rounded up and shot for nothing at all, other than as an example to others of what the Nazis could do if they felt like it. Thus it always is with tyrants.
But as long as she could dance, the young “Edda van Heemstra,” (having taken her mother’s maiden name again for “safety” reasons) had a refuge and could find security and happiness inside herself and a sense of “belonging” with others. It was a talent she loved to share, and which she used to entertain members of the community and the Dutch Resistance during the war, through tough times of privation in which she, family members, and many millions of their countrymen, were reduced to grinding up Holland’s famous tulip bulbs to make some version of flour to cook with and eat, while all of Holland’s resources were taken to feed the Nazi war machine. The gastric and intestinal disturbances that started during the war were to plague Audrey all her life, and by some accounts, she was never completely well again.