Happy Mother’s Day – 1939 May 19

May 19, 1939

Dear Thelma –

It’s Friday so we came in to buy up supplies for the week and take mother up to the doctor.  Her toe looks terrible!  Pop says he has seen it much worse and it healed up so we are consoled by his words.  We are keeping her sugar free and being out in the mountains we hope her condition will improve much sooner than otherwise.  She just tried on the beautiful sweater you sent her and it fits and looks marvelous!  Mom wants me to extend you her thanks for your kind thought of her on Mother’s Day.

Pop is coming along surprisingly well.  He had a couple of bad days this week but all in all he is doing so good that he surprises all of us and himself.  For the last three weeks he has had little need of me.  He does quite a few things for himself.  He drives the car. Climbed a ladder last Sunday to instruct the boys how to paint the house, and goes fishing almost everyday.  So there will positively be no change in my plans.  I will leave Troy Saturday morning for N.Y.C.  If Sam + Celia decide to make that trip to N.Y. I will see you then and we will have a marvelous time on the 27th.  If however they can’t make it I will take a train either Sat or Sunday.  There might be a delay for a few hours because I have some very important business to attend to in N.Y.C. on my way down.  Make sure to let me know what the plans are from your end and if – when and where we will meet.

As for my health all that I can say now is wait till you see me!  I hate to brag so you just wait………

In my next letter to you which I will send either to-morrow or Monday you will receive some cash [$8.00] so don’t worry on that account.

“Danks” a whole lot for taking care of my employment compensation cards.  You get an extra kiss for that.

Early this morning I dug a garden for flowers.  It took me about three hours of steady work.  Pop is going to plant a whole “flock of flowers” and he promised to send me some when they are full grown.  You can hardly imagine how we all feel about Pop’s improvement.  It’s a miracle that’s all.

Sweetheart, darling I’m counting the seconds until I hold you in my arms.  Next week is going to be one of the longest in my life.

It is needless to repeat that I love you so much that there’s nobody in the whole world who can come near you in my affections.

Extend my best wishes to the whole trible – comrades and friends.

Issy

P.S. Love you? Yep

Editor’s Notes: Happy Mother’s Day! Thelma thinks of her mother-in-law up in Grafton with her husband and sweetly sends her a sweater.

Plans are on track to reunite.  Thelma will either meet Izzy in NYC or wait for him to take the train to D.C. First Izzy must attend to some cryptic business in the city – to collect unpaid wages (?) to see to a friend (?). Trains in 1939 had dining cars and look how lovely they were!

traincar1938
Metro-North 20th Century Limited (famous people and politicians took this train between NYC and Chicago – Izzy would not have taken this train), New York Transit Musuem, ID: 2001.31.182

Below is cool cross section poster of Grand Central Terminal in 1939.

Izzy’s got muscles to show Thelma, the better to squeeze her with.  He’s got money in his pocket, compensation cards taken care of, and flowers to look forward to. Everything is coming up roses for the two lovebirds to reunite.

grandcentral
Grand Central Promotional Poster, 1939, from Ephemeral New York

Wanted: Powerful Mamma

May 16, 1939

Dear Thelma –

We just “blew” in from Grafton on an emergency call.  This morning when my father went to examine my mother’s toe he discovered a tremendous blister on the big toe of the foot which was infected.  The infection itself had opened up again and was bleeding.  After drawing off the “water” from the blister and dressing up the infected toe, we hastened in to the city and now we are awaiting the doctor.  Pop says it isn’t serious but he thought it best to consult our physician.

Pop has been doing quite well lately.  He has been quite active and has gained considerable strength.  To-day however, he isn’t feeling so well.

Unless something unusual occurs my plans for coming home is as per my last letter to you which is on the 28th of May.  I have things organized now and it will be no hardship for anybody here when I leave.

Your picture is positively a knock-out!!! Everybody who has seen it likes it very much.  I’m taking it out to Grafton with me to keep up my courage until I see you.

Thelma, darling please look in the inside pocket of the coat of the suit which Sam gave me and see if there is a letter of yours to me.  In it should be my employment compensation card.  In fact there should be two cards. One should be red and the other yellow.  If it isn’t there, then go thru that box of letters of yours to me which I brought back the last time I was in Washington.  If you find it put it some place where I will be sure to get it.  Make sure, darling to do this for me and let me know about it by return mail.

Well, Sweetheart, you going to have another week to get in some work on the piano.  Also get in good shape physically because I’m good to hug and kiss you so much to it will take a “powerful mamma” to withstand my attack.  Picture if you can, a love-starved husband finally encountering his most loveable wife after a prolonged absence.  Wow!!!  The next thirteen days are going to be like thirteen years.  But the joy of seeing you gives my renewed energies.  Sweetheart, darling, I’m dreaming day and night of our encounter from now on.  I love you madly.

Issy

P.S. Extend my best wishes to the entire family, comrades and friends.

P.S.S. Let me hear from you by return mail.  What’s new with Leo?

P.S.S.S. Tell Esther that Ruth Kur eloped with a theatre usher in New York City.  Just heard Rose and Irene Sheftel talking about it.  It might interest Esther.

Editor’s Notes: Hmmm, Izzy was no less sentimental than Thelma.  He also kept a box of all her letters to him, but it seems it was lost to time.

As part of the Social Security Act of 1935, unemployment insurance was issued in several states (NY being one) for those out of work through no fault of their own.  This was in reaction to the Great Depression and the weekly stipend was meant to be spent on necessities in their own community to stimulate the economy. DC followed suit in 1937.

Workers had 1:1 interviews before receiving unemployment compensation. I’m still looking for an image of the employment compensation cards that Izzy asks Thelma to look for.

unemploymentinterview
The interview for unemployment compensation. San Francisco, California, LOC fsa2000001831/PP

Izzy’s always got a bit of gossip from Troy to send to the Stein girls.  This time it’s an elopement.  

Some of Izzy’s slang (in this case “powerful mamma”) makes me believe that he was listening to the jazz and blues of the 1930s. He was a classical musician but being young and radical would certainly draw him towards the Harlem Renaissance.  He’s more removed from it being in upstate New York but don’t forget he was a struggling musician in NYC before his marriage and likely still had connections to his life down there.

Thelma has to get in good shape now, not for Izzy’s viewing pleasure but so she can withstand all of his hugs and kisses. 

Mad, Morbid Love – 1939 May 14

Sunday, May 14, 1939

Dear Thelma,

It’s now 6:30 a.m. and these lines are being penned in Albany.  Last night Dave, Marion and Sam drove out in a big green truck and brought two new mattresses for two beds in Grafton.  One for my father’s room and one for my mother.  While Sam was there I got him to relieve me and I came in with Dave + Marion.  You see they tempted me because they were going to see Wuthering Heights.  I had just completed reading this morbid novel and was anxious to see it on film.  So that explains why I’m here in Albany.  I got up early because I had a very pleasant dream about you.  When I reached for you you vanished.  So I decided to get up and write you before we leave for Grafton.

As for the picture all that can be said for it is that it gives one a very faint, mild and deluded notion of the novel itself.  However it was quite interesting and with an excellent cast who in my opinion could have done the real job if Hollywood didn’t “doctor-up” the text.

Thelma, darling from the looks of things I fear I will be detained here for one additional week.  So I will get in to Washington on the 28th instead of the 21st of the month.  My father is doing much better than even I expected out in the country.  He has put on some weight and looks surprisingly well considering what he has and has gone thru.  The additional week of me being out there with him will I think complete a job where I can feel (when I get back) that he has regained sufficient strength to help himself.  So, Sweetheart, I want you to be sweet and patient despite the delay.

The mad love portrayed by the villain of Wuthering Heights will give you an inkling of my love for you.  If you can get to read this novel do and keep the above in mind.  If not see the movie.  You will realize then what would happen to me if anything happened to you.

Extend my love to the entire family and tell them I’ll be seeing them all in two weeks.  Also my best wishes and regards to the comrades and friends.

Issy

P.S. I’m still madly in love with you.

P.S.S. Let me know if you received the inclosed money.

P.S.S.S. Write me soon, darling your letters brace up my spirit and help me pass the time.

Editor’s Notes: Yet another delay in Izzy’s plan to return to D.C. He estimates an additional week just two days after his last letter proclaiming the 21st to be his homecoming day. He’s buoyed on by his connection to the novel and film Wuthering Heights. The book is absolutely morbid with family illnesses, ghosts of lost loves, and the awful Heathcliff. Izzy can identify with Heathcliff’s “mad love” for Catherine
whbookand even alludes to how he would be sent into a great depression and ultimately die without Thelma. Two days earlier Izzy told her not to read the novel, it’s too morbid, too depressing.  But the book stays with him; grows and changes in his mind.  Now he tells Thelma she should read the book and think of his love for her.

 

The 1939 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights starwhred Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff and “Cathy” is played by Merle Oberon. It is considered a classic and preserved by the US National Film Registry. However, it differs from the book and Izzy agrees the book is better.


To dream about a loved one disappearing can indicate a feeling that the dreamer has neglected a part of their life. The physical distance between the couple could obviously make it feel like the relationship has disappeared. Just as likely, the image of the ghosts of Heathcliff and Cathy walking across the screen impacted Izzy’s subconscious life.

“You know that the stimulus for a dream always lies among the experiences of the preceding day.” – Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

 

1939 May 12

May 12, 1939

Dear Thelma,

It is now early Friday morning and I just read your most welcome letter.  It was a great joy to learn that you have gotten a new hold on yourself in regards to your work on the piano.  When I get back you are going to play for a full hour for me.

As for my plans regarding coming back they are still the same as when I wrote you last.  That is if everything runs off as I can see them from this angle.  This coming Sunday makes it one week that the folk will have been out the country and they have benefited from it considerably.  I’ve taken my father out on the reservoir fishing everyday.  The air and sun plus the joy of doing something he never expected to live to do has given him a new grip on himself.  He tanned up a little and if I’m not mistaken he also put on a little weight.  I have a peach of a sun-tan.  You should see me now.  You’d think that James and I were twins!  As for my health, if I could only see you I’d be feeling better than at any other time that I could remember.

My mother loves it out there.  She has been feeling excellent.  Her toe is perfectly normal.  Yesterday she picked a peck or more of dandelion greens and we ate it for supper last night.  It is a marvelous food.

I brought my violin out expecting to do some work but it simply didn’t pan out that way.  There is more work out there takeing care of all the duties than I anticipated.

Just completed reading Wuthering Heights.  It’s a morbid piece.  Don’t ever read it, unless you want to feel depressed.

If within the next two weeks my father continues to improve I will be back in Washington on or about the 21st of this month.  Please don’t set your heart on this date as I have.  I may be delayed another week.  If I should be detained I will inform you of it in due time.  Should things take a turn for the worse which is possible but not probably naturally I will be detained much longer.  But as things stand right now it is my ardent hope and desire to have you in my arms on the 21st.  Sweetheart, I can hardly wait.  It’s been so long that it seems like ages have past.  Darling we are going to be very happy when this nightmare is over.

What the hell is wrong with me?  Just took a glance on the callender.  It’s not two weeks off but only 1 week practically.  Wow!  My heart is beating like 60!!!  If only nothing occurs to spoil it I see you in nine days.  I’m going to take every precaution to see that nothing will interfere.  If I die in the meantime the cause will be impatience.

I hope some good will result from Leo’s visit to Kindler.  If it does I’ll consider Leo the world’s best salesman and luckiest guy.

You don’t write anything of the rest of the family.  What’s news?

Well I’ve rambled along for a while and it’s now time to buy up supplies for the coming week.  We must hurry because my mother must get a shot of insulin by noon so I’ll close this note with all the love and kisses that you can bear.

Issy

P.S. Regards to the entire family friends and comrades.

 

Apologies for poor quality photos – the original scans went missing.

Editor’s Notes: 

-Izzy has his parents up at their lake house in Grafton and says the clean air and sun are doing them well.  His father was not doing well months ago, seemingly on his last days but he has made it through and on the upswing.  Izzy determines that his sister Rose will be able to care for his parents in a week’s time and he will be able to return to his love in 9 days.  His heart is beating like 60?  Which I assume means very fast.  He calls their prolonged separation a “nightmare” and soon he will be able to return to his dream girl.

-Izzy has discussed light therapy in previous letters and its benefits to many ailments.  Sunbathing was considered good for your health, later a beauty standard, and finally the public recognized the connection to skin cancer en masse in the 1990s.  Scientists were actually aware of the connection in the 1940s.  Tan skin is still considered an ideal but the way we achieve this look has changed dramatically.  

video below from British Pathé

-A peck of dandelion greens would be a quarter of a bushel!  Or two gallons.  They are edible and good source of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium and iron.  They can be bitter and are usually either blanched to remove this taste or sauteed similar to spinach.

-Thelma’s piano work is progressing well, Izzy has not had much time to work at the violin, and Leo is confronting his orchestra conductor.  Hans Kindler of the National Symphony Orchestra.

To Read: 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – Published 100 years before this letter Brontë wrote the novel about Heathcliff, the Linton family, and the Earnshaw family under the pseudonym Ellis Bell.  It was considered well-written but was denounced for not having a single sympathetic character.  The characters were described as “depraved”, “contemptible”, “savage”.  Read at your own risk, according to Izzy.

1939 May 8

May 8, 1939

Dear Thelma –

Yesterday the whole clan of Bickweats gathered out in the Grafton to start the season right.  The weather was all that anyone could ask for so a good time was had by all but yours truly.  I was so lonesome and blue that in order to hide my innermost feeling I started to clean, sweep, wash the entire first floor and rearrange the furniture.  Dave, Marion and Benny and Jerry Seigal fell right in with me and in three hours of real thorough work we got things looking ship shape.

To-day I’m sweeping and washing all the floors upstairs.  The rest of the week will be devoted to wood chopping.  In the late afternoon (yesterday) Sam and I got out in the rowboat in the middle of the reservoir and took an excellent sun-bath.  After the gang left for Troy and the folks went to sleep I had an acute attacks of the blues.  I finally cried myself to sleep.  Only the extreme necessity of me being here stops me from leaving right now.  Remember if you miss me (and I know you do) just think of what in this whole world could keep me from you but a situation like this.

Most likely you received my last letter with the 10.00.  From now on you will receive money regularly without delay.

I decided that it would be best for you to continue to write me at this address because I would have to walk to the State road to get mail thus leaving my folks alone.  We are having the phone connected to-day out in Grafton so I will be informed when your letter gets here.

What’s news down in Washington?  How is the entire family?  I’m expecting a long newsy letter from you.

Everything and everyone up here is quite the same as when I wrote you last.  My driving is coming along slowly but surely.  If our car wasn’t so junky I’m sure I’d do much better.

Say, by the way, what’s news regarding Dave.  He was going to move the last I heard.  Or has he changed his mind?  Have Milton take a flock of “shots” of you and send me some.  This will be a great aid for me to make the best of my absence from you.

Darling, I love you more than anything and anyone in this whole universe, always remember that.

Issie

P.S. Regards to the whole family, comrades and friends.

Editor’s Notes: Grafton is only a half hour drive from Troy, NY – it’s a small town with lots of lakes that are mostly now all part of Grafton Lakes State Park.  The town was, and still is, a Summer tourist destination.  Izzy and Sam rowed out in the Dunham Reservoir but other than that relaxation Izzy is unable to enjoy himself.  He misses Thelma and their life together.

I do not know enough about the history of the post office to understand how Izzy would get a phone call when Thelma’s letter arrived.  He was hesitant to leave his parents alone for any amount of time so trips to the State Road (Route 2) to check for undelivered mail was considered wasteful.  Since Milton is the only one with a camera Izzy asks Thelma to have Milton take photographs of her and send them to him to ease the loneliness.

1939 May 5

May 5, 1939

Dear Thelma –

To-day is the first decent day we’ve had in over a week and even then it wasn’t too warm.  After lunch Pop, Mom and I drove out to Grafton where we spent the afternoon getting things ready for our coming out there to stay for the summer months.  It’s certainly surprising how much better Pop feels out in the mountain air.  He doesn’t cough half as much and he is “on the go” from the moment he gets there until he leaves.  Most likely the climate out there is going to help him considerably.

As I told you in my last letter my plans are (if nothing unforeseen occurs) to get my father + mother established out there and then I will try to get Rose to take over.  If she will be able to handle the job satisfactorily then I will be enabled to return.

Thelma, sweetheart, please continue to be considerate and patient with me.  Under the present circumstances there’s nothing else that can be done but what I’m doing.  Believe me, this whole business is the most trying experience in all my long life.  Your patience, darling is quite a consolation, which I will never forget.

With all the war propaganda and national hysteria being wooped up by the capitalist class thru its various agencies little wonder is it that Albaugh was heckled.  The time is not far off when it will be actually dangerous to open one’s mouth in opposition to the current of Democratic Totalitarianism.  While this treatment is nothing new to the S.L.P. it’s my opinion that our section should confine our outdoor meetings in a city other than a capitol city.  Incidentally the party’s experience bears me out or to put it properly it’s vice-versa.

That collection of $45.00 was sensational!  Keep up the good work.

Do I love my terribly lonesome sweetheart?  Well all I can say is if I were given to writing as I am to talking or love-making you would a receive a love letter so big you’d be an old lady before you finished reading it.

Darling, please write me more often and more details about yourself.

I will send you some cash Monday which you will most likely receive Tuesday or the following day.

Here’s the latest news from Troy.  Frank Kur the guy who married the Buckey girl and the brother of Kur the fender repair man who live on Division St., was slugged and killed in Philadelphia Wednesday.

How’s everyone in the family?  Anything new on the symphony matter? I’m holding my breath til I hear from you, you monkey.

Issy.

P.S. Regards and best wishes to all from all. I’m crazy about you!!

Editor’s Notes: Thelma attended or maybe even helped facilitate a local Socialist Labor Party meeting and has relayed the details to Izzy in her previous letter.  The Albaugh that was heckled was probably Arla A. Albaugh, who ran for Vice President alongside Teichert on the SLP ticket in 1944 against FDR.  Is Izzy suggesting that the meetings move somewhere less visible to the opposition?  Meanwhile, the government was concerned with propaganda from Germany and Japan but also from our own countrymen; Communists and groups supposedly espousing the benefits of Totalitarianism.  People were fearful and an enemy you know is less daunting than an unknown.

The only other bit of news in this letter is about the death, or murder, of a local man.  On May 2, 1939 Frank Kur was found beaten to death in his new green coup in West Fairview, across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, not in the city of Philadelphia.  On May 6th, the Harrisburg Telegraph published more details.  Kur was on a business trip, he’d set up meetings with potential clients for the Exhibit Sales Company which he had an interest in.  He’d checked into the Alva Hotel and then had dinner at 8pm, after dinner he headed to a bar on the West Shore, of which there were many, though the coroner said there was no alcohol in his stomach.  Details between then and 1AM when he was killed were unclear and a motive was not discovered.  Most likely he was an easy target as a lone traveler and was robbed and dumped since no money was found on his body.  His wife Lilly Kur nee Buckey identified his body.  She hadn’t seen him since September but they were keeping in touch through letters.

 

1939 May 1

May 1, 1939

Dear Thelma,

Hastening this note to you because I got a hold of five dollars which I’m sure you can use.  George went back to work to-day so next Saturday I will be able to send you at least $16.00.  As for finances I am more than mindful so if there is any delay on this matter rest assured it wasn’t my fault.

The weather here is far behind what it should be at this time of the year.  It will have to warm up quite a bit more before we will permit the folks to go out to Grafton.  However we drive out to the farm daily and in this way I get my driving lessons.  By this time I should be able to drive but for some reason or other I’m still learning.  Overcautiousness and nervousness are my deterrents.  But I will persist until I can drive.

As for coming back to you here is my plan now.  After I get the folks out Grafton and see that Rose can take care of my father I will pack up and leave.  This is probably three or four weeks off.

Yesterday Pop + Ma, George, Dave and I went out to Grafton and burnt the brush around the house.  It was quite cold, but out there Pop coughs are lessened about 50%.  Wish we were established out there already.  I’ve been so damned lonesome lately that it’s driving me nuts.

Darling, please write me more often.  This will be the only tonic that can keep up my spirits.

Mom is feeling better than I’ve seen her in four months and Pop is doing much better.  He is very thin but for the last few days he has made a rally which has surprised us and himself.

I won’t be myself until I have you in my arms + hugging and kissing you with a passion unknown to any human.  My patience is almost gone.  Sweetheart, love for you is driving me out of my mind.  No fooling.  What’s news with all the folks?  What’s news on the Leonard-Sonia front?

How and what are you doing on the piano?

I’ve got to attend to a few important things now so I’ll close with all the love and kisses you can bear.

Issie

P.S. Regards to the family and the comrades.

P.S.S. Read the May Day issue of the W.P.

P.S.S.S. I still love you.  Write me very soon.

Editor’s Notes: 

May Day has a very old history and is celebrated differently across the world with its roots in Paganism.  However, it was later adopted as a Socialist holiday, called International Worker’s Day.  It was a day off for the workers who were fighting for 8 hour work days, rather than 10 or 16 hours.  The holiday was first “celebrated” in 1886 when many thousands of workers went on strike, walking off the job until their demand for reasonable hours was met.  It was not peaceful; people were killed, jailed, hanged.  In 1939 the Socialist Party was honoring the day with rallies all over the United States.  It is still celebrated by similar political parties, unions, and organizations.  (Source: International Workers of the World webpage)

socialism

MAY DAY

Shall this MAY FIRST be like the rest that vanished
And left no change to still our Hunger great?
Shall Greed again remain on earth unbanished
And leave the docile workers to their fate?
Shall war again sweep over land and ocean
And leave a deluge to consume the world.
While hope for better things, like -false emotion.
Into oblivion shall again be hurled?
And shall the chains you wear be still more tightened?
And shall you lose the gains of age-old pain?
And shall the load you bear be left unlightened
For many more hard years of strife and strain?
Or will you rise against your cruel master
And let this May give birth to better life
And thus avoid the scourge of near Disaster
And do awav with slavery and strife?
Arise, arise, you mighty working people,
And smash the chains that hold you tight and fast!
And let your Victory ring from every steeple:
That wage-slavery is dead at last!

—George Scheftel

From the May Day issue of the Weekly People.

Scheftel was a Socialist who ran for Alderman in Brooklyn in 1932 but is best known (though still not exactly known) for his poetry.  His book of poetry, Faint Chords, was published in 1913 when he was 28 years old.

Mentioned in this issue of the Weekly People was a treatise by Olive M. Johnson about the difference between May Day (proclaimed by the people) and Labor Day (proclaimed by the masters).  You can read that here.  Click  here to see an awesome site about women who ran for office pre-1920.

I’m not sure if Izzy was still attending SLP meetings while helping his parents in Troy but the photo above is where he would have gone (The Keenan Building)

His comrades in Washington, D.C. would meet here:

2nd and 4th Fri, at Public Library, Mt. Pleasant Branch, 16th and Lamont St, N.W, 8 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Branch was a Carnegie Library built in May 1925.  The murals painted in the library by Aurelius Battaglia have a fascinating history and most likely served as inspiration for Walt Disney’s Fantasia.  

 

battagliamural.jpg
Photo Credit: Rachel Flynn

 

From the May Day Weekly People: Washington, D.C. Supper-Round Table. Section Washington will hold another supper-round table on Sunday, April 30, at 7 p.m., at the home of Comrades Stein. Comrade Quinn will deliver address. Admission, 50 cents.

There were certainly other Steins in the D.C. area and many were most likely involved in the SLP so it may not be my Steins hosting, but you never know!

One last piece of history, from the May 6th issue of the Weekly People, about the April 28th speech given by Hitler:

“Every German worker and his wife, as well as children above twelve, were compelled to hear the Fuehrer expatiate upon the great moral cause he was championing. Loudspeakers were installed in factories and public places, and in concentration camps where Hitler’s
cruelly crushed victims were herded around them.”

Weekly People, May 6, 1939

1939 Apr 28

April 28, 1939

Dear Thelma –

Words fail me in expressing my reaction to your loving and considerate thought in your letter with regards to my prolonged stay up here.  All that I can say is if it wasn’t for your appreciation and encouragement which you have given me I fear that it would be too much for me to bear.  You if no one else can see that my behavior is not motivated by blind selfishness; without consideration due to ourselves.  Life and what it has in store for us lies ahead for us but for my father, well there’s not much left.  If I were religious I’d be on my knees praying for a miracle.  As it is every bit of my attention is devoted to prolonging his life.

Thelma, sweetheart I won’t be able to send you any money till the end of next week, when I will make up for the lost time.  I am mindful of this matter constantly and won’t fail, rest assured.

Got up this morning very early to hear Hitler’s speech.  The whole matter reduced itself to the pot calling the kettle black.  If Germany and Italy are run by gangsters Hitler says and proves conclusively that England, France and U.S. are equally as guilty of the accusation also.  It is my belief that the gangsters concerned in the international squabble will forget their differences, join to-gether and go for their real and common enemy, namely U.S.S.R.  It will surprise me if the capitalist nations war with each other thus permitting the U.S.S.R. to step in and make capital after they lie prostrate.

Well, my mother’s toe is all healed now and all fear of amputation is off our mind.  And she has my father to thank for effecting the cure.  This is the second time he has accomplished this.  Monday if the weather permits we are taking the folks out to Grafton.  We are depending a lot on the air, sunshine and water to help my father.  The other day while out there he noticed that he didn’t cough so often.  As for the rest of the family they are fine and dandy and send their best wishes.

That sure must have been a bombshell for the folks of everyone concerned to learn of Leonard and Sonia.  After all the babbling and shouting is over it’s no one’s business but their own.  Leonard is 21 years old.  And they (Leonard and Sonia) have a right to happiness as they see it.

And while on the subject of happiness there’s one thing of which I’m positive.  There will not be a happier couple on earth when I return to your side.  Darling if there wasn’t anything to live for our love would be enough for me.  That I love you doesn’t half express it.

Issy

P.S. Usual regards to family + comrades.  Write me soon. Please.

Editor’s Notes: Others may be worried for Izzy and Thelma’s relationship with him being away for so long.  But, Thelma is 100% supportive and understands that Izzy needs to be with his father.  Izzy and Thelma are young with a whole life ahead of them; they are willing to prolong their own happiness in order to extend an old man’s life.  Their love and dedication is inspiring.

You can see that Izzy learned about loyalty and love from his parents’ own relationship.  His father is ill but still able to help heal his wife.  Another couple seems to be on the verge of tying the knot – Leonard and Sonia (from the neighborhood, probably Leonard and Sonya Gorin).  A couple is not an island, there are usually friends and family members voicing opinions, but if they are not an island they are at least in their own rescue boat together.

Now, on to the historical context.  It begins with a letter from U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and a similar letter to Italian President Benito Mussolini, on April 14, 1939.  You can read the letter here.  It asks Hitler to decree that there will be no invasion or attack of 31 nations for the forseeable future.

Hitler responded to this open letter with a speech of about 90 minutes. (broadcast in the US from 5 AM-7 AM)  Hitler said he reached out to all 31 nations and none of them felt threatened by him.  I think it is safe to say that if they did not already feel bullied, they would soon.  You can read the whole transcript here and watch a clip from the speech here or listen to the whole speech here.

“Some of the lying statements fabricated in the past few weeks by these international warmongers and published in numerous newspapers are just as childish as they are malicious.” – Adolf Hitler, April 28, 1939

This letter is still some months before Hitler invaded Poland and WWII began.  I am not actually a history buff so I’m going to have to do some deep diving to understand the American Socialist’s views of Lenin, Stalin, Russia, the USSR to get a complete picture.  However, the climate of the time was that everyone’s common enemy was Stalin, the USSR and Communism.  And then Hitler happened.

1939 Apr 24

April 24, 1939

Dear Thelma –

Not having heard from you in almost a week I’m getting worried.  Why didn’t you answer my last letter?  I hope everything is O.K.  How is your ankle?  Did the swelling go down?

The reason I didn’t send you any money last week is because there has been some delay in mail on George’s insurance checks.  Rest assured that I will make up the money as soon as possible.  Please don’t worry on this account.

My mother’s toe is almost completely healed.  There’s still a very small open wound.  This is being watched very closely and there is no reason why it shouldn’t heal completely.  As for Pop there’s little to say in addition to what I have already said.  He is simply shrinking away.  Now he only weighs 132 lbs and is very weak.  This condition in spite of the most careful attention as to his diet and care.  If only the weather would warm up and stay warm then perhaps, being out in Grafton a favorable change would take place.  But it has been raining up here almost every day last week and it is raining to-day.  As for me, I’m going to fight his illness while there’s a breath of life in him.

The rest of the family is O.K. and sends their best regards.  My driving is coming along much slower than I expected.  However I’m sticking right to it until the job is completed.  George says that the fault is not wholly mine.  Learning to drive on a junky car, which doesn’t respond properly is an obstacle and a damned difficult one at that.

What’s news at 1658 Park Road?  How’s everybody and everything?  How are you coming along on the piano?  What are Leo’s plans in regards the orchestra?

Sweetheart, though it’s a week since I left you, I feel as though ages have gone by.  My predicament is indeed a discouraging one but I’m buoyed up by your understanding and love.  Darling when I do come back I’m positive that we will be the happiest couple in the whole world.

Write me as soon and as often as you can because your letters are the only source of energy I have.  Extend my best wishes to the entire family and the comrades.

Issy

P.S. Just reminded myself of a very important part of this note.  I’m madly in love with you, sweetheart.

Editor’s Notes: Izzy makes it clear that he is still very much involved in his parents’ health and will not be returning to D.C. until he deems them well.  This could be much longer than he anticipated since progress seems to be very slow and sometimes going backwards.  Thelma has been supportive in allowing him this, if only because she has no choice.  Izzy promises that once he returns to their marital life they will be the happiest couple in the world.

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