In 2013 a shoebox full of letters arrived at my feet and I knew they were going to be special.  They were letters of love, musings, family, and rebellion from my great-uncle Isadore (Izzy) to his beloved Thelma.  After sorting them chronologically, scanning, preserving, and transcribing the originals I decided that I wanted to share this story with others.

Izzy was a musician and a member of the Socialist Labor Party in the 1920s-1950s in NY and Washington, D.C.  Izzy and Thelma were often separated by circumstances of work, volunteerism, and declining parental health.  This collection of letters reflects the writer’s ideology, his familial and romantic love, and the struggles of a young musician.  They capture a time and place that many of us have not experienced.  I had a wonderful time reading and getting to know the letters, I hope that you will enjoy them as well.


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  1. What an amazing job you have done with the history and posting all of these wonderful letters,Thank you !
    Izzy (was 1 of my Dad’s brothers) and indeed a wonderful Uncle
    Aunt Thelma would honor us in August ( during their annual visits) with a concert on the piano.
    I now know my love of Books and Bookstores must be genetics !!

    1. Hi I2T I was surprised and delighted to find your blog. I’m related to William Pugatsky’s mother and I’m trying to find out more about the Pugatsky family.
      Please can you drop me a line. Kind regards. Robert

  2. Hi, my name is Bernice I am William Pugatsky daughter. I am the oldest grandchild from the Bickweat side of the family. I had looked at your letter and my birthday is wrong. also some other stuff that you had wriiten.
    My grandmother Pugatsky had died in 1912. How did you know about her? Please contact my daughter Wendy Rath at wendyr14@aol.com.

  3. Hello there, what a wonderful thing you have done, publishing these letters. I am writing to ask you if I may make a copy of the letter where Mr. Izzy auditioned with the conductor Paul Henneberg. Mr. Henneberg is my daughters great great grandfather (she is named after Paul’s daughter, Elsa, who was a well known Cellist.) There is so little information that I have found about them. So lucky for you that you have letters.
    Wishing you a happy holiday season, Sincerely, Flora

    1. Hi Flora,
      Glad you found the blog! You can absolutely make a copy of the letter. Were you thinking of saving the jpgs or were you looking for something else?

      If you ever do anything with the letter I’d love to see.


      1. Hi Laura, thanks for your generosity. I was planning to print a copy of the letter to add to a family scrapbook for my daughter. Ideally I would like to assemble a little biography of the Henneberg family as they were so active and accomplished in musical circles all over the world; but the information I have found so far is scattered snippets in newspaper articles. I was adopted as a child, with very little information about my birth family…so I have tried to give my daughter as much info as possible about her dad’s family. It is fascinating to me, and every little bit adds to the picture of where we come from. Thanks for your contribution! Certainly if I share anything publicly I will give credit to you. I have enjoyed your family letters, especially because they are filled with the kind of day to day details that make up a person’s life. Have you gone on to do writing of your own?
        I am sending you warm wishes for a happy new year!

      2. Thank you for sharing your story.

        I have not done my own writing in any real sense but I would like to learn more about Izzy and Thelma outside of the letters and write up some of the history we do not see here.

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