Jan 22 1939

January 22, 1939

Dear Thelma,

To-day makes it five weeks since I left the D.C. and it seems like five years. Constant vigilence and unending patience in taking care of a “patient” who resents being taken care of would break down almost anyone. On good days when he is up he regards my efforts as curtailing his desires and to overcome this attitude requires extreme tact. All in all I have made considerable progress with him. For the last few days however he has mentioned the sensation of a dull pain in the region of his right lung. Despite my reasoning + pleading with him he refuses to quit smoking, at least for the period of his illness. You can easily imagine how smoking to a man in his condition will be disturbing.

The other night I got out the violin I borrowed from Bill and played some Jewish + Russian songs for my father + mother. They began to sing and pretty soon my father took the violin and “fiddled” off a time himself!! Afterwards he said he surprised himself by the steadiness of his bow across the strings.

To-day he had company from N.Y. Mrs. Toretsky + Dorothy came up for the day and while he enjoyed the pleasure of their visit he sat up too long and consumed more cigarettes than usual and right now he is suffering a reaction. No matter how one views the case it is going to be a long dragged out affair and I can do nothing else but what I am doing.

As to my mother she is doing better than we all expected. Naturally we were all freighted. We are keeping her sugar free and her toe is healing slowly.

Rose is elated with the progress she is making in reducing + clearing up her face. We tackled her problem internally + externally. She is taking enemas regularly and applying hot towels to her face twice per day. The bulk of the pimples on her face are almost gone and all her friends that see her tell her about it. She sees that if so much can be accomplished in five weeks then in one year she knows and expects great results.

George has given up smoking altogether. Dave was up to-day and told me that he is tapering off his smoking gradually until he will quit altogether. The pimples on his face are drying up.

Sweetheart I was overjoyed to hear how well you were greeted on your Birthday! My brother Dave told me he sent you an umbrella which he considers not as a gift but as a debt he owes you. Having nobody else to appeal to he prays that my father won’t fail him in getting him an affidavit form. Send me this form as soon as you possibly can so that we can fill this out up here and send it to Germany as soon as it is possible.

Sweetheart, I’m madly in love with you and I can hardly wait until I have you in my arms once more. Perhaps I am selfish to permit my thoughts to wander to such pleasurable things but these are my feelings and I’d burst if I didn’t give vent to them. I’m hugging and kissing you everlastingly—


P.S. Regards to all.

Editor’s Notes: Izzy is away from D.C. doing what he believes to be the right thing – taking care of his family.  He is suffering for this martyrdom and even feels guilty having pleasant fantasies of holding Thelma in his arms.  His task is made even more difficult when the patients are not entirely grateful for his sacrifice.  His father believes that he will quit smoking AFTER his illness has passed rather than recognizing that continuing smoking will only make the illness worse.  Izzy says it will be a “long drawn out affair” which I think means he understands that his father is killing himself and he can continue to try and persuade him but ultimately he is watching his father’s demise.  

There are periods of joy, such as when they are playing music together or friends come to call.  But, after a flurry of activity there comes a crash.  His mother seems to be more attuned to her health and allows her diet to be controlled, to keep her Diabetes in check.   It now seems that maybe Rose’s affliction was also an addiction to nicotine and she is determined to heal also.  The correlation between smoking and acne could be due to smoke causing dryness in the skin and nicotine denying the body certain nutrients and antioxidants that would keep skin fresh and self-healing. 

Dave gave Thelma an umbrella for her birthday.  Perhaps an odd gift today it was more of an accessory in her day.  To be used in rain and shine.  Though, by the early 1930s it was not chic anymore but how was Dave to know?


War time: “Between 1933 and 1939, more than 90,000 German and Austrian Jews fled to neighboring countries” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).  Germany tried to make it easy for Jews to leave but the countries they were entering had hurdles to jump for successful emigration.  Affidavits from sponsors were typically required.  Was Dave trying to get someone out of Germany.  With the war boiling and their Jewish ancestry I’m not sure what else an affidavit to Germany was meant to accomplish.



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