At four years old, in 1930, with a mop of brown curly hair, bright hazel eyes, and light skin, Ruth Pinsker waited with her family on the side of a slickened Detroit avenue for a cable car they would never ride. Her family was comprised of Zlate and Shmuel “Sam” Pinsker; two immigrants who had recently migrated to the U.S. from Russia; as well as her younger sisters, Mildred; two years old, and the newborn Eleanor; still swaddled in her mother’s arms.
An attorney, driving while heavily under the influence, careened out of control down the boulevard toward Zlate and the kids. Although Sam would have been spared, he instead shoved them out of harm’s way, taking the full broadside in exchange and killed upon impact. Zlate was dragged under the auto’s wheels, breaking several bones. The children — short of emotional trauma — remained untouched.