March 9 1939

March 9, 1939

Dear Thelma,

Bernice just called up on the phone to speak to her “Zadie”.  Her grandfather is now speaking to her and pleading with her to come over to see him.  He promised to give her a “swell feed” which he is cooking.  So you can see that Pop has improved so much that he is up and doing things again.  Yesterday while I went out for a big walk, Pop decided to go out by himself to do some shopping and go to a movie.  While he was out he weighed himself at Rizzio’s.  He now weighs 149 lbs in his clothes which is a gain of about 4 to 5 lbs.  His general condition I would say has been greatly improved.  The thing that has me worried now is that he spits blood every 4 or 5 days apart.  All in all, however there is no question in anyone’s mind up here but that there has been a general improvement in his condition.  If this trend continues I might be able to return sooner than even I expected.  And you can hardly imagine what a thrill + joy it will be to be near you again!  Sweetheart I’ll hug + kiss you until you cry for help.

It’s now 10:30 A.M. but it’s just as dark outside as though it was 6:30 P.M.  The snow is falling so fine you’d think it was dandruff.  This type of a snow-fall is the kind that can continue for days.  Your letter which I just go thru reading has dispelled the gloomy mood which this weather always puts me into.  Darling even your letters “does things to me”.  They pep me up and make me feel cheerful.  Honey, all I can say is that I’m crazy about you and it’s driving me mad being away from you.

I received a letter from Dave yesterday and a letter from “Cholly” to-day with yours.  Tell them, especially that fiddling-diddlin-sage-strong-hairy-chested ape with the Mongolian slits that he calls his eyes that replys are forthcoming to them respectively and with a vengeance!  Caution them in my behalf to beware of the “Ides of March”.  That will give them infantile disorders until they hear from me.

You didn’t write me concerning your work on the piano and it’s almost 2 weeks gone.  Thelma, you might as well know it now as later that I intend to be not only your lover but your pain-in-the-neck as well.  To my way of thinking it’s not asking too much of you to intensify your work on the piano so that you don’t become a “stick in the mud”.  Real progress means work and experimental approach.  Fort Hummel used to say the reward for hard work is more hard work.  It’s my opinion that you can become a real fine artist on your instrument if you only decided to go right to it, letting nothing detract you.  And you know I’m all for it.  Write me in detail what you have been doing these last two weeks that was different than what you usually did.  Also let me know how you intend to improve your approach.

As for myself, as soon as my present duties come to an end, I will be able to be in a position to get “our own house in order”.  The “bust” is pretty well shaped up and I will send you some “shots” as soon as I can.

So Harry Guin is giving a recital, eh!  Tell him for me that for once I have proper distance for safety.  If his voice was only as great as his nerve and courage he would become one of the “greats”.  Confidentially he ——, well, he shouldn’t —— well what I mean to say is that he just shouldn’t!!

Remember me to all the folks, comrades, and friends.


P.S. Let me know if you received the inclosed $8.00.

P.S.S. I am “nuts” “crazy” “looney” “whacky” and “bats” about you.  Now do you believe me?

Editor’s Notes: Bernice is Izzy’s niece, calling up her “Zadie” (Yiddish for grandpa).  Bernice is the daughter of Izzy’s sister Anna (Ann) and her husband William (Bill) M. Pugatsky.  As we can see from this previous letter Bernice was born June 30, 1934 making her 4 years old on the phone to grandpa.  Ann’s first child, Arnold, was beamed about at the end of this letter here.  The Pugatsky family was living in the Bronx when Bernice was born but moved back to Troy before this phone call as Zadie pleads for Bernice to walk a few blocks over to see him and she’ll get a home-cooked meal out of the deal.
Bernice’s father, William M. Pugatsky  was a skilled violinist Troy record 1924 Jan 31who played first violin with the Cleveland Orchestra from 1920-1921.  He also possibly founded a Troy Symphony, and taught music to Izzy Bickweat and Leo Stein.  Miss Stein (presumably Thelma) accompanied them on the piano at a recital for the Teachers Association in 1924.  Izzy would have been about 21 and Bill 30, not many years apart but Bill was only a couple years removed from his time with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Izzy’s father is doing much better, up and cooking, walking to the movies, etc.  I don’t know what Rizzio’s business was (all I could find was news about a Rizzio’s sentencing for murder) but he weighed himself at their penny scale  and is doing better in that regard as well.

Izzy starts ragging light-heartedly on his male friends who have written him letters from DC.  This is all sorts of bonkers so let’s do an Etymology Corner first.

Etymology Corner!

Cholly: His friend who sent a letter must have been named Charlie since this nickname comes from the perceived New York upper-crust pronunciation of “Charlie” and was used as a pseudonym for writers of a society column in the New York Recorder.  Here’s one such article from the Newport Historical Society:


Izzy is then teasing his friends to beware the Ides of March which will presumably be about the time he sends a reply letter to them both.  He says it will give them infantile disorder: A term from Lenin’s work titled “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder by which he seems to mean it is a party formed by young insurgents who are forming their ideals from the safety of academia and without the input of the people.  Izzy is just making a joke using this term that is probably amusing to him and his comrades; that it is a “disorder”, some sort of disease, to be a young Communist.

Mongolian slits?  That’s just a bit racist, no hidden meaning there.

Editor’s Notes Continued: I always think it’s amusing when Izzy badgers Thelma about how she’s doing on the piano.  She often seems to leave details out judging by how often he says “you didn’t mention…!”.  He acknowledges his badgering and does it because he believes in her talent.  She’ll need to be more experimental and always be doing something different, or more advanced, than she was doing last time.  Fort Hummel said something to that effect, if Fort Hummel means anything to you.  Is this a man or a place?

Poor Harry Guin does not have Izzy’s confidence and Izzy does not seem shy about sharing his feelings with the man.

To Read: The above-mentioned “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin (1920)


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