May 30, 1928
Dear Thelma –
Before I go off on a tangent, or get all tangled up in my own yarn I would like to impress upon you the importance of receiving from you information concerning the exact time and place of your arrival hither. (How’s that for legal lingo!) So you are becoming my competitor on the fiddle eh? Rest assured that you have my best wishes. And how is your new pupil progressing?
Last Saturday evening I ran up to see the Diamonds. Mrs. Diamond wasn’t feeling so good. Monday I called up to find out how she was and learned that she had contracted the grippe. My time is all taken up until next Saturday evening so I will not be able to see her until then. However I expect to call up to-morrow. My brother George hitched-hiked down here for the day, and went home on the excursion train. Escorting him to the Grand Central I met quite a few Trojans. Gertrude Paul greeted me so warmly that I feared she might become over-sentimental so I cut our encounter very brief. Mr. and Mrs. Rothstein were looking very good. All the rest were blank face, dead souls as far as I was concerned. After the train left I went home feeling blue. Instinctively I wanted to board the train and go home to see you. Why I must remain down here in the bee-hive is becoming a bigger question every day? I am not looseing my courage but one must recognize a fact. Conditions down here are going from bad to worse. Unemployment is rampant as it never was before. That in turn makes working conditions extremely harder for the ones employed because of the competition with the jobbies who are willing to work for less. The boss knowing this puts the lash on all the harder and becomes a virtual slave driver. I am not preaching nor exaggerating. How does the boss make money if not by exploiting his wage-slaves?
Studying anything let alone a musical instrument under such conditions plus the crowding, jamming, and herding in the subway is enough to dishearten anyone. Hopes of getting a better job or building a class of pupils spurns me on. If it wasn’t for the hopes and having good teachers here I would have been home long ago. Who was it who said “we live in hope and die in despair”. Now that I have confessed to you write me of your inner self. What are your hopes and aspirations?
Please write me sooner because I feel stranded down here. Remember me to each and all. Great and small.
P.S. Will we have a few hours to ourselves Sunday? Tell me where you want to go in advance.
Editor’s Notes: Izzy is still waiting for the particulars on when Thelma will be visiting NYC. Excursion trains from upstate to the City were designed specifically to bring tourists in on the weekends but I need a train aficionado to help me find specifics about Troy to Grand Central. Always the musically inclined couple we discover that they both have at least minimal aptitude with the fiddle as well as their own instruments: violin (Izzy), piano (Thelma).
Izzy ran into many “Trojans” at Grand Central, a clever name for people from Troy. Perhaps feeling disconnected from his home and neighbors he describes most of them as being “blank face, dead souls” and only wishes to see the face of his beloved. Life in NYC continues to dishearten Izzy and he acutely feels the effects of a declining economy. The Socialist Labor Party platform included 8 hour (or less) work days for factory workers and improving conditions of work environments. Striking would not get the intended results because “jobbies” would be willing to cross picket lines and fill empty spots. Bosses knew this and placed little value on their workers, they were easily replaced.
We know of Izzy’s political ideals, commitment to family, love of Thelma but we are treated to a bearing of the soul, his hopes and desires for his own future. He asks Thelma to respond in kind. What were her own hopes and aspirations? Were they ever fulfilled? “We live in hope and die in despair” is not attributed to any one person, it is recognized by most as a truth of the human condition.