Spirit of St. Louis
can a hometown girl find happiness in her own home town? she can if, like ruth guerri, she's got the right stuff
Hanging out with Ruth Guerri is a tonic. If she were bottled, the label would say, "Dr. Guerri's Elixir -- cheers you up, mellows you out; gets the blood flowing and quickens the pulse; feel free to O.D." Just looking at Ruth makes you want to blow the rent on a boxcar of ice cream. She's a threat to clear thinking, an invitation to irresponsibility.
How can such a girl make a living? Why, by modeling, of course -- which is what she's been doing for the past seven years in and around her home town of St. Louis. She got the bug right after high school. A brief foray into clerical work convinced her: "Nine to five I could not do. I found myself coming in late and leaving early. I just couldn't spend eight hours a day in an office when it was so beautiful outside." Her longevity in the modeling business is remarkable, especially since she works out of St. Louis, a relatively small market. Luckily, a while ago she found an angel named Anheuser-Busch, from which she gets many assignments, mostly catalog and promotional work. Still, at 26, she is at the upper edge of her professional life.
"Most of the ads in St. Louis require a young look," Ruth says. "When I scrub down, I can look 16, but soon somebody is going to come to me and say, 'Now, Ruth, you're 35; you can't pass for 16 anymore.' Before that happens, I'd like to get out gracefully. I'd like to have some kind of little business of my own. Right now, I'm thinking about a bar/restaurant in midtown. I've been talking to some people and it just may come together."
As a child, Ruth was a tomboy. With two brothers, she had to be. She developed fearlessness and athleticism, not to mention a finely toned body. She keeps it that way with the help of a horse or two.
"I have one race horse now. There were two, but we had to take one of them off the track because of a bad leg. So I found myself breaking a race horse in to a riding horse. It's great exercise. I had to do it on a jockey saddle because the horse just wasn't used to the weight of a Western. A jockey saddle is really just a piece of leather, and the stirrups are right up around the horse's neck. I fell off a lot! She's a good horse. The best she ever did was third place, though, and she usually went off at about 75 to one. She made a great tax shelter!" As a horse trader, Ruth makes a good model. "I tend to look at how pretty the horse is rather than at conformation," she admits, then quips, "I want a perfect horse. I've seen pictures of Secretariat, so I know what a perfect horse is!" Keeping active keeps Ruth happy -- and wonderfully optimistic. Her free time is spent decorating her house in the woods or putting in time on a '76 Eldorado she is helping to restore. When she feels down, her remedy is to chastise herself: "Now, Ruth, you're being silly; you've got a lot going for yourself, so snap out of it.
"You have to pull yourself out of a depression," she advises. "You can't depend on someone else to do it. I like to cook, so I'll pull out a cookbook and look for something really outrageous to prepare. Or I'll buy make-up or wash the car or put rubber snakes in the mailbox for my boyfriend. Anything but sitting around doing nothing. If you accomplish something, you just naturally feel better." Good advice, to be sure. But for our part, we find things get a whole lot better when we're around Dr. Guerri.
Photography by Arny Freytag, Stephen Wayda