Santa Fe Living Treasures ‚Äď Elder Stories
FROM THE BLACK FOREST TO TESUQUE
Honored September, 1985
Helene Ruthling came to Santa Fe as a governess, and stayed to open a famous nursery school and a unique toy store. She settled in Tesuque, where the trees reminded her of her native Black Forest. Her life touched that of many legendary figures in local history, from Mabel Dodge Luhan, who employed her, to Will Shuster creator of Zozobra--the giant gloomy gus of a puppet burned at the annual Fiesta de Santa Fe--who enjoyed her boundless hospitality. Shuster was married (for the second time) in Helene's Tesuque house.
Born to Carl and Frieda Maurer in 1903 in Stuttgart, Germany, Helene was an only child. In 1913, to escape the Kaiser's Army, Carl, a cabinetmaker, emigrated to Buffalo, New York. "He did beautiful inlaid work," Helene recalled. Helene and her mother, Erieda, were expected to emigrate too, but the war in Europe erupted. Unable to join "Grandpa," Fried a and Helene went to Switzerland, where Helene completed training as a children's nurse.