Jan. 16, 1928
Nothing in the whole world could have pleased me any more than to hear that you are reading De Leon’s Reconstruction of Society! I hope you will fully comprehend it, so that the next time I see you we will be able to discuss the contents in fine style. I’m going to buy a copy of it and reread it. But what makes me wonder is how it ever came to you? Did you send away for it? After you are further advanced in revolutionary thought we will have everything in common, which goes to build up a super-love.
At last I have found a job; and how! It’s far from being the best, but I intend to hang on to it until I pay up some bills. The place is a ladies hat factory. It’s a pretty good cross section of the garment industry. Working there, I am in a position to study conditions first hand. And I must say it’s something terrible. The season is very short. That makes the employees do all the work in a couple months that should normally take at least one year. Just imagine, the workers work on Sundays also! My boss asked me to come in Sunday and I emphatically informed him that I would not. That action in and by itself has made me conspicuous in the shop. Aw to hell with all the talk about work I need all the good space to make love. After all that’s the only good thing in life. Regardless of all sorts of hardships if one is really blessed, as I am what else is there to worry about. We are not responsible for bad time or bad luck, are we?
Esur said he is positively going to quit his job this week. It’s hard to find a job just now, but he won’t be missing much by quitting this one, believe me. Judge Ben Lindsey and Rabbi Stephen Wies are to debate on Companionate Marriage sometime at the end of the month, so if I get a chance to go you will get the full particulars. You didn’t write me any gossip in your last letter and the savory flavor was missing due to that very reason. There’s no gossip in N.Y. because we have a tabloid press but Troy — if it didn’t have a little of that life there would be naught. I saw Leo Sunday evening; tell him to relate what happened. That’s all the fun I had since you left. Write me a longer letter because next to seeing you I enjoy reading every word of yours. Don’t forget.
P.S. This letter should cop the blue ribbon as a Don Juan missive. What say! Let’s go!
P.S.S. Does Rebecca Rothstein intend to live in N.Y.?
Editor’s Notes: I was a little concerned when the letter started with “Dear Tillie” but it appears he is writing to Thelma and that is just a pet name. Thelma, or Tillie, derives her Socialist views from Izzy but has taken initiative here to read Daniel DeLeon’s “The Socialist Reconstruction of Society” which was originally the preamble to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Constitution. The bound book could be found at the University of California which is now digitized on the HathiTrust.
Izzy looks forward to being able to discuss complex Marxist theory with Thelma and he believes that shared passion will enhance their love. Thelma must also share this belief since she is trying to embrace and understand what Izzy holds so dear.
1920s factory working conditions were notoriously hazardous. Cramped work spaces with poor lighting, low wages and dangerous chemicals are all factory workers had to look forward to each day. The Mad Hatter of Lewis Carroll fame was named so because hatters used mercury to make hats up until the 1940s causing tremors and mental issues. The Triangle Factory Fire of 1911, the Ames & Moulton Hat Factory explosion on 1860, and others brought about unions, picket lines, and demands for safe working conditions. Izzy, as a member of the Socialist Labor Party was concerned with the injustices and was able to “study conditions first hand” as an employee at one of NYC’s hat factories.
Izzy appears to be in good spirits as long as he has Thelma to love.
Judge Ben Lindsey and Rabbi Stephen Wise were NYC movers & shakers and the idea of Companionate Marriage was that “young men and women should be able to live together in a trial marriage, where the couple could have a year to assess whether or not they were compatible”. This of course was considered “living in sin” and can still be a controversial issue in the U.S. This first page preview of the debate gives the date, location, and ticket prices. Unfortunately, to view the whole report you need access to the database.
Unfortunately, all knowledge is still not free though the Open Access, Creative Commons and Public Domain movements have made great strides. I derive a lot of my information from such sources as Googlebooks, HathiTrust, PublicDomainReview, and others who are working to preserve and share history.