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Telling her tale

Decades-long dream comes true for newly published author

Created date

April 18th, 2018
Ruby Nell Ormon holds a copy of her recently published book, My Dude, which tells the story of her family’s pet raccoon.

Ruby Nell Ormon holds a copy of her recently published book, My Dude, which tells the story of her family’s pet raccoon.

Ruby Nell Ormon had a story in her head for years.

“I kept telling myself ‘Tomorrow,’” says Ruby Nell. “Tomorrow I’ll get busy writing.”

The story percolating in Ruby Nell’s mind dates back to 1969, when her family took in a pet raccoon.

“I wanted to write the story of the raccoon who lived loose in our home in Highland Park [Tex.] for seven and a half years,” says Ruby Nell.

After her husband passed away in 2008, Ruby Nell started writing.

“I decided tomorrow had come,” she says.

Getting published

Ruby Nell sent her finished manuscript to three publishers. All three sent it back.

“I put the book in a drawer where it stayed for ten years,” says Ruby Nell. “Then last summer, my daughter and I took a cruise down the Danube River. We met a couple who had a friend in publishing. I communicated by phone with the publisher, who lives in Michigan, and she arranged for my book to be published.”

Ruby Nell’s book, My Dude, opens with the unusual turn of events that led her family to adopt a raccoon.

“I was working on my doctorate in nutrition at Texas Woman’s University when one of my professors mentioned she had a mother raccoon and babies living in her attic,” says Ruby Nell. “She was concerned they might start causing damage to her home.”

Ruby Nell and her husband, both animal lovers, recruited their two teenage neighbor boys to help them retrieve the raccoons from the professor’s attic.

“Fortunately, the mother raccoon was away when we went to get the babies,” says Ruby Nell. “There were five babies in all. Our teenage neighbors kept three of them, and we kept two—a male and a female. They came to live with us and our three daughters.”

Part of the family

Initially, the raccoons stayed in a rabbit cage.

“Not long after we brought them home, one of my daughters called me at work to say that the female, who we called Chatterbox, was having a seizure,” says Ruby Nell. “We took her to the vet, but she died that night.”

The male raccoon, Duzey, thrived, however, and was soon part of the family.

“He chose where he wanted to live in the house,” says Ruby Nell. “For a while, he lived in the linen closet. Then he hung out in the chimney. Eventually he made his home in the basement.”

As a nocturnal animal, Duzey—nicknamed My Dude—slept during the day and roamed the neighborhood at night, turning on the light in the basement before leaving through the coal chute.

“It might be hard to believe some of his antics, but everything in the book is true,” says Ruby Nell. “My Dude was smart. He could turn on light switches, open the cabinet to get a cookie, and scale a dresser by opening one drawer at a time. We had to be careful about what we left out because he liked to nab shiny things, especially jewelry.”

Ruby Nell says her book is geared to third and fourth grade students and is available for purchase through Amazon.

“Retirement is a great time to try new things,” she says.

More to write

Ruby Nell is celebrating her accomplishment at Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas where she has lived since 2013. Ruby Nell sold copies of My Dude at a book signing at the community in early March.

Now, Ruby is honing her writing skills once more, this time in the Write a Memory class at Highland Springs, taught by Resident Services Coordinator Barbara Blachly.

“My goal is to finish my memoirs by the end of 2018,” says Ruby Nell. “I want to write them down for my family.”