1939 May 1

May 1, 1939

Dear Thelma,

Hastening this note to you because I got a hold of five dollars which I’m sure you can use.  George went back to work to-day so next Saturday I will be able to send you at least $16.00.  As for finances I am more than mindful so if there is any delay on this matter rest assured it wasn’t my fault.

The weather here is far behind what it should be at this time of the year.  It will have to warm up quite a bit more before we will permit the folks to go out to Grafton.  However we drive out to the farm daily and in this way I get my driving lessons.  By this time I should be able to drive but for some reason or other I’m still learning.  Overcautiousness and nervousness are my deterrents.  But I will persist until I can drive.

As for coming back to you here is my plan now.  After I get the folks out Grafton and see that Rose can take care of my father I will pack up and leave.  This is probably three or four weeks off.

Yesterday Pop + Ma, George, Dave and I went out to Grafton and burnt the brush around the house.  It was quite cold, but out there Pop coughs are lessened about 50%.  Wish we were established out there already.  I’ve been so damned lonesome lately that it’s driving me nuts.

Darling, please write me more often.  This will be the only tonic that can keep up my spirits.

Mom is feeling better than I’ve seen her in four months and Pop is doing much better.  He is very thin but for the last few days he has made a rally which has surprised us and himself.

I won’t be myself until I have you in my arms + hugging and kissing you with a passion unknown to any human.  My patience is almost gone.  Sweetheart, love for you is driving me out of my mind.  No fooling.  What’s news with all the folks?  What’s news on the Leonard-Sonia front?

How and what are you doing on the piano?

I’ve got to attend to a few important things now so I’ll close with all the love and kisses you can bear.


P.S. Regards to the family and the comrades.

P.S.S. Read the May Day issue of the W.P.

P.S.S.S. I still love you.  Write me very soon.

Editor’s Notes: 

May Day has a very old history and is celebrated differently across the world with its roots in Paganism.  However, it was later adopted as a Socialist holiday, called International Worker’s Day.  It was a day off for the workers who were fighting for 8 hour work days, rather than 10 or 16 hours.  The holiday was first “celebrated” in 1886 when many thousands of workers went on strike, walking off the job until their demand for reasonable hours was met.  It was not peaceful; people were killed, jailed, hanged.  In 1939 the Socialist Party was honoring the day with rallies all over the United States.  It is still celebrated by similar political parties, unions, and organizations.  (Source: International Workers of the World webpage)



Shall this MAY FIRST be like the rest that vanished
And left no change to still our Hunger great?
Shall Greed again remain on earth unbanished
And leave the docile workers to their fate?
Shall war again sweep over land and ocean
And leave a deluge to consume the world.
While hope for better things, like -false emotion.
Into oblivion shall again be hurled?
And shall the chains you wear be still more tightened?
And shall you lose the gains of age-old pain?
And shall the load you bear be left unlightened
For many more hard years of strife and strain?
Or will you rise against your cruel master
And let this May give birth to better life
And thus avoid the scourge of near Disaster
And do awav with slavery and strife?
Arise, arise, you mighty working people,
And smash the chains that hold you tight and fast!
And let your Victory ring from every steeple:
That wage-slavery is dead at last!

—George Scheftel

From the May Day issue of the Weekly People.

Scheftel was a Socialist who ran for Alderman in Brooklyn in 1932 but is best known (though still not exactly known) for his poetry.  His book of poetry, Faint Chords, was published in 1913 when he was 28 years old.

Mentioned in this issue of the Weekly People was a treatise by Olive M. Johnson about the difference between May Day (proclaimed by the people) and Labor Day (proclaimed by the masters).  You can read that here.  Click  here to see an awesome site about women who ran for office pre-1920.

I’m not sure if Izzy was still attending SLP meetings while helping his parents in Troy but the photo above is where he would have gone (The Keenan Building)

His comrades in Washington, D.C. would meet here:

2nd and 4th Fri, at Public Library, Mt. Pleasant Branch, 16th and Lamont St, N.W, 8 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Branch was a Carnegie Library built in May 1925.  The murals painted in the library by Aurelius Battaglia have a fascinating history and most likely served as inspiration for Walt Disney’s Fantasia.  


Photo Credit: Rachel Flynn


From the May Day Weekly People: Washington, D.C. Supper-Round Table. Section Washington will hold another supper-round table on Sunday, April 30, at 7 p.m., at the home of Comrades Stein. Comrade Quinn will deliver address. Admission, 50 cents.

There were certainly other Steins in the D.C. area and many were most likely involved in the SLP so it may not be my Steins hosting, but you never know!

One last piece of history, from the May 6th issue of the Weekly People, about the April 28th speech given by Hitler:

“Every German worker and his wife, as well as children above twelve, were compelled to hear the Fuehrer expatiate upon the great moral cause he was championing. Loudspeakers were installed in factories and public places, and in concentration camps where Hitler’s
cruelly crushed victims were herded around them.”

Weekly People, May 6, 1939


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