Wanted: Powerful Mamma

May 16, 1939

Dear Thelma –

We just “blew” in from Grafton on an emergency call.  This morning when my father went to examine my mother’s toe he discovered a tremendous blister on the big toe of the foot which was infected.  The infection itself had opened up again and was bleeding.  After drawing off the “water” from the blister and dressing up the infected toe, we hastened in to the city and now we are awaiting the doctor.  Pop says it isn’t serious but he thought it best to consult our physician.

Pop has been doing quite well lately.  He has been quite active and has gained considerable strength.  To-day however, he isn’t feeling so well.

Unless something unusual occurs my plans for coming home is as per my last letter to you which is on the 28th of May.  I have things organized now and it will be no hardship for anybody here when I leave.

Your picture is positively a knock-out!!! Everybody who has seen it likes it very much.  I’m taking it out to Grafton with me to keep up my courage until I see you.

Thelma, darling please look in the inside pocket of the coat of the suit which Sam gave me and see if there is a letter of yours to me.  In it should be my employment compensation card.  In fact there should be two cards. One should be red and the other yellow.  If it isn’t there, then go thru that box of letters of yours to me which I brought back the last time I was in Washington.  If you find it put it some place where I will be sure to get it.  Make sure, darling to do this for me and let me know about it by return mail.

Well, Sweetheart, you going to have another week to get in some work on the piano.  Also get in good shape physically because I’m good to hug and kiss you so much to it will take a “powerful mamma” to withstand my attack.  Picture if you can, a love-starved husband finally encountering his most loveable wife after a prolonged absence.  Wow!!!  The next thirteen days are going to be like thirteen years.  But the joy of seeing you gives my renewed energies.  Sweetheart, darling, I’m dreaming day and night of our encounter from now on.  I love you madly.


P.S. Extend my best wishes to the entire family, comrades and friends.

P.S.S. Let me hear from you by return mail.  What’s new with Leo?

P.S.S.S. Tell Esther that Ruth Kur eloped with a theatre usher in New York City.  Just heard Rose and Irene Sheftel talking about it.  It might interest Esther.

Editor’s Notes: Hmmm, Izzy was no less sentimental than Thelma.  He also kept a box of all her letters to him, but it seems it was lost to time.

As part of the Social Security Act of 1935, unemployment insurance was issued in several states (NY being one) for those out of work through no fault of their own.  This was in reaction to the Great Depression and the weekly stipend was meant to be spent on necessities in their own community to stimulate the economy. DC followed suit in 1937.

Workers had 1:1 interviews before receiving unemployment compensation. I’m still looking for an image of the employment compensation cards that Izzy asks Thelma to look for.

The interview for unemployment compensation. San Francisco, California, LOC fsa2000001831/PP

Izzy’s always got a bit of gossip from Troy to send to the Stein girls.  This time it’s an elopement.  

Some of Izzy’s slang (in this case “powerful mamma”) makes me believe that he was listening to the jazz and blues of the 1930s. He was a classical musician but being young and radical would certainly draw him towards the Harlem Renaissance.  He’s more removed from it being in upstate New York but don’t forget he was a struggling musician in NYC before his marriage and likely still had connections to his life down there.

Thelma has to get in good shape now, not for Izzy’s viewing pleasure but so she can withstand all of his hugs and kisses. 


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