Due to unforeseen events, (which I will explain when you arrive) I was unable to write any sooner. However you may rest assured that I was ever conscious of my promise to write first.
By the time this reaches you it will be too late for you to write me about your arrival here, so the only thing left to do, is to phone me immediately upon your arrival. My phone number is Intervale 8062. Get off at 125th St. and I’ll be there in three shakes of a lamb’s tail. So much for that an ‘a that.
The backbone of the “blues” (that we would have experienced under ordinary circumstances of departure) was broken considerably by the fact that both of us were fortunate in haveing mutual friends to accompany us after you + I departed. Speaking for you like this is certainly presumptuous but as for me, these were my sentiments.
I just phoned to Dave Harris and found out that the poor kid is laid up with the grip. I’ll see him the first chance I get. It’s raining dogs + cats here. The weather is very unseasonal and therefore treacherous. The reason I mention the weather in the middle of this letter is to remind you to take good care of yourself. You must always be in tip – top condition to do your best work.
I am going to see Esur to night at Ann’s, where we meet every Thur. evening. I am undecided about slaying him for kissing you good-bye. I didn’t mind him kissing Gert. I’ll wait and let you decide my course of action on this matter.
I hope nothing will interfere with your coming to N.Y. for the New Year. However if something unusual occurs and prevents it, write me sooner.
Be true my love! —– be true!
P.S. I don’t think this letter will chill you eh????
Editor’s Notes: We get a lot of interpersonal information through this letter if we read between the lines. Izzy and Thelma saw each other for Christmas and this is the first letter from Izzy after Christmas and before New Year’s. Presumably, when they parted he promised to write to her first. Either he realized his mistake and wrote far too late or Thelma had to prompt him by sending a letter first. The problem is that Thelma is now going to see him for New Year’s and, since texting and e-mailing were out of the question, it was important to make travel plans well in advance. Izzy dropped the ball so now Thelma will need to use coins to phone him while she’s waiting alone in Harlem. His phone number by the way is Intervale 8062 so Thelma would dial 468(INT)-8062.
Izzy then appears to be responding to a statement by Thelma that she didn’t experience as many “blues” when they parted this time. He explains that it is because they had friends to distract them from their good-byes, he hopes Thelma agrees with that assessment.
One of Izzy’s friends, Dave Harris, is laid up with “grip” or what we would call the flu. Izzy expresses concern over Thelma’s health and more specifically, what I believe to be, her work practicing piano. I’m sure he also didn’t want her to take ill and not be able to visit for New Year’s.
His good friend Esur must have been the one to accompany Izzy home after the parting and given Thelma a peck to say good-bye. He gave Thelma’s sister, Gert, a peck also to be fair as she had accompanied Thelma. It seems Izzy is teasing Thelma here, asking if he should defend her honor but never taking the situation very seriously.
His “P.S.” can also be read as a light-hearted jab at Thelma’s desire for a warm letter. Possibly she scolded him for writing “chilly” ones.
“Three shakes of a lamb’s tail” – The real idiom is 2 shakes not 3 but the meaning is still “very quickly”. I’m not sure which adorable lamb inspired this idiom but during the building of the first atomic bomb the men designated 10 nanoseconds to be a “shake”.
“Raining dogs + cats” – Again, the real idiom is “cats + dogs” not “dogs + cats” and its history goes back way further than this letter. Enjoy this representation of such a catastrophic storm:
A 19th-century English cartoon illustrating the phrase “it is raining cats and dogs” (and “pitchforks” too)