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Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

Trudel Adler, my mother, came to the United States 1934 when she was 21 years old. She frequently wrote long letters home to her family in Germany and asked them to save her letters and they did — over two hundred handwritten pages.

Trudel was an amazing young woman who grew into a fascinating warm wonderful woman, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was funny, serious, forthright, and considerate. She worked hard all of her life and gave to the world more than she ever got. The tale of the rest of her life was full of challenge,sadness and joy. These early years are more than that. They reveal the strength of character, the chutspa, the love, that helped her through all those years. Preparing her letters for this blog has been like entering a conversation with her and getting to know the young woman I never met.

Trudel as in Strudel

When asked how to pronounce or spell her name, Trudel, would reply, “Trudel, as in strudel.” She always said the “s” in strudel was for sugar and she was sweet enough without it. But all was not sweetness and light. In 1933, Trudel wrote in her diary, “There is no future for Jewish youth in Germany. I think I shall go to Palestine.”

Now in Chronological Order

On May 8, 1934 she sailed for the United States. What happened next is told in her letters which are now posted in chronological order. If you are on the home page just scroll down. Otherwise, start here.

(Note: Because the usual order of posts in a blog is latest first, the navigation links at the bottom of each screen are reversed – “older posts” will take you to the next set. “Newer posts” will take you to the previous set. I’ll find a way to fix that later. An alternative method would be to use the month by month archived posts.)


Here is a link to the most recent post:

  • March 23, 1937 – I Arrived in Sumter a week ago and don’t know where to start writing.
  • Trudel on the ship

    Trudel on the S.S. Manhattan, May 1934


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    May 9, 1934 On board SS Manhattan.

    May 9, 1934  On board SS Manhattan.

    On board SS Manhattan. Wednesday, May 9, 1934.

    My Dear Goldkinder,

    To start with I want to apologize for my handwriting. It is now 4:00 p.m. and I am sitting on deck in a lightweight sweater in bright sunshine in a beach chair. The boat is shaking slightly from one side to the other on a rather quiet and beautiful ocean.

    I found already nice company. We found each other even before the ship left Hamburg yesterday. Doddo can tell you much about it.

    It is really wonderful here. After departure we visited for a little while, had a glass of beer and sandwiches until we retired about 11:30 p.m. I slept wonderful until 5:00 a.m. when the sun shone one me so invitingly that I first looked out the porthole for a little while, went back to sleep until 7:30 a.m.

    We all met before breakfast until we were seated. The nice guy who tried to flirt with me last night and I are sitting at a table together. He is from Budapest and already fifteen years in New York. He reminds me of some other friends. Two girls sit alone because they eat kosher. The others are spread around. After a very large breakfast we went for a walk, then we rented chairs and are resting from doing nothing.

    We are always in groups of four or six or more. This morning I also played ping pong to improve my appetite! In between they served consomme and crackers. After dinner we played catch, etc. before resting in our chairs again, three hours except for taking a few snapshots. It is good that my table mate is American. He can read the menu And tell me what it is. Just now we got tea and cookies.

    I am getting lazier by the minute. Your know what corns on a certain place are? Well I think I am getting them.

    On Deck

    On the Deck of the SS Manhattan May 9, 1934

    There are several people on board who have given me regards from friends but I am not very interested in most of them.

    Tomorrow, weather permitting, a few of us want to walk a bit around LeHavre. Now I want to take a nap before dinner. Hope you can read this o.k.

    Love, Trudel



    The next letter is May 17. I will try to post more photos from the ship before then.

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    Posted by on May 9, 1934 in diary, family, Letters, Memoir

     

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    May 10,1934 On Board the SS Manhattan

    May 10,1934  On Board the SS Manhattan

    May 10, 1934

    My very dear ones,

    It is really too beautiful to be true. But it is true thank God and I am enjoying it as much as possible. We are now in the Channel and on my handwriting you can see our boat is shaking quite a bit.

    After I closed my letter yesterday we had to change clothes and after supper we danced on a slippery dance floor. At midnight two girls and five males went to the cabin of two of the men and had a drink, cookies and chocolate. At 2:00 a.m. we all finally went into our own cabins.

    At 8:15 a.m. this morning Eugene Hollander with whom I sit at the tables, picked me up for breakfast. At 9:30 a.m. twelve of us went like a little caravan through Le Havre. Since all twelve of us are non-Aryan I heard more Hebrew and Yiddish than I used to hear in a year. I mailed the letter to you there.

    We all stopped for a cognac And were back on board at 12:30 for dinner. Ernst Calin, who used to work with Ernst Cahn who used to work with you, Doddo? He would like to join our group but we do not care for his company. Especially my table partner, who is very intelligent guy–that’s why we are friends, ha, ha, ha. He talks many languages and was all over the world in all big cities.

    Trudel and her group on deck.

    on deck

    On deck with Trudel


    After dinner I rested and then I jumped into the very salty Channel pool and swam for about ½ hour, then a shower and now laying on deck to make my light rose cheeks darker.
    By the way all immigrants were thoroughly searched for money etc. Not only I.

    This morning before breakfast we ran around the deck about 15x to get a good appetite. We have to take advantage of this excellent food. I am too lazy to write others but you but received a few letters.

    This afternoon in Le Havre about 100 more people came on board. I hope I do not get a roommate. It is so nice to be alone in my cabin.

    Hopefully the weather stays as nice so I can come to the USA looking like a Negro.

    Sorry I am writing so mixed up but I tell you things as they come in my mind. Last night I noticed that our ship can shake much more. The dance floor seemed to slip away under our feet but we all stayed upright. I hope we will dance again tonight, although I am now so tired that my eyes can hardly stay open. Greetings to everybody.

    Loads of love and kisses your much to be envied,

    Trudel.

    P.S. We are all so happy and healthy together and feel so free!

     
     

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    May 17, 1934 Social Butterfly – on ship and on land.

    May 17, 1934 Social Butterfly – on ship and on land.

    New York. May 17, 1934.

    Well, here goes my very dear ones. I do not know where to begin this today. Please save my letters and if possible get them to me some day since I am to busy to keep a diary.

    I am sitting here in my new room, which is actually the room of the two Hamburg girls. They do not come home from school until 5:30 p.m. and I am looking forward to meeting them.

    It is only 1:00 p.m. here–7:00 for you. I do not think I have to tell you how very wonderful the trip was on the Manhattan and you are probably not interest to hear that passengers were trying to marry me to three different men. One of three was on the ship too and we both thought it was very funny. The others were willing to spend $2.00 to have a wedding on the ship!

    My table partner, who was definitely the nicest man on board is married and has a five-year-old darling boy, wanted me to meet a cousin etc. He was friendly with everybody especially a very pretty midget woman who was with a group of midgets as entertainers.

    A partner for the smallest man


    Actually the trip so far went much too fast and as Doddo and Lu can verify, the food was plenty and excellent. Breakfast about 8:30 a.m. Fruit or juice, cooked cereal and either two soft boiled eggs or lox and coffee, rolls or sweet rolls. At 10:30 they served us consomme and crackers (I called it matzos) and at 1:00 p.m. we went for lunch–at least five courses. Then again at 5:00 p.m. tea and cookies and 7:30 dinner.

    I was the only girl who was in slacks almost all the time. I have to admit that I was very popular and friendly with every lady almost. Of course I am the first on the passenger list and the two kosher Zimmerman girls the last. We have gotten very friendly. The older of those two and I were the only females in tourist class who did not get seasick at all.

    Friends on Deck


    At first we had beautiful weather but at the end of the week it got pretty rough and we did have to get used to it. After a couple of days it got very nice again. One afternoon we had games on deck. It was hilarious. First, for ladies they string up crackers to reach without hands. Second, for men a sack race. Third, transferring a bean with a straw from one plate to another. There I was number two. Fourth, for men only. Fifth, girls had their eyes covered and had to make a mark on a special place with chalk. I was best there–my prize was a little Manhattan sailor. I gave that to the nice midget lady because she was sick. Then two guys bought one for me.

    Unfortunately I went swimming only 2x. But that was great. At 5:00 p.m. every day they showed movies. I only went for three shows of that garbage. I suppose I have to get used to it. At 9:00 p.m. there always was “horse racing” and afterwards dancing. I wore my evening dress three times. During the day, even for lunch in slacks and then dress up for dinner. In the time between on deck, sleeping or playing or walking or standing on my hands to prove how well I felt.

    Our little group entertained the whole tourist class. We also went to inspect the kitchen. The chef is from Frankfurt. Anyhow there are many German employees on that boat.

    We also took a lot of photos. When I have all the pictures together I will send them to you.

    Now to what I really wanted to write today. After a pretty bad storm yesterday morning the sea got calm again but it was much colder. At 9:00 p.m. we saw the first lights of the U.S.A. Then we came slowly closer. The lights along the coast looked like a string of pearls. Slowly we could see more and more. At 12:30 the ship stopped a few miles from the harbor.

    We visited for a while with the kitchen chef from [?] We stood on deck for quite some time and it was funny to hear the Americans argue when they could see. We went very late to sleep. I woke up at 6:30 and was supposed to be at breakfast at 6:30. I never heard my alarm. After breakfast we got ready and up on deck since we started at 7:00 to get closer to shore. Unfortunately it was getting very foggy and we could not see very much. It was just like we see on our photos, postal cards and movies.

    Smallest Man

    The Smallest Man on the Boat and our Chief Steward


    I had a letter from Aunt Henny that she turned me over to HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society?]

    At 9:00 we dropped anchor. I had a hard time finding the folks who were going to pick me up but fortunately one of the passengers on board knew my mischpoche and also the Heinzenheimers. Since he was a U.S.A. citizen he got off the boat very quickly and he sent his wife to get me and my family together. I had no trouble going through passport checks and customs. Just made a little intermission to write to Aunt Henny and to take a breath.

    Can you imagine all the hot water and as much as you want. I changed clothes and went along to do some shopping. Now it is about 5:00 p.m. I am not sure of the exact time since I broke my wristwatch.

    Now back to the entry into U.S.A. As we were leaving the customs check Willy Bloeser, father’s employee, greeted me. He had been at the port since early in the morning. When he saw my trunk he sat on it and waited for me. Has had not changed but said he had a hard time recognizing me.* We will try to get together one day while I am here.

    Rudy Heinsheimer drove us all here in his nice car. Bertl received me here right away with something to eat. After all it was now noon and I did not eat since 7:00 a.m. and had a big appetite. This apartment is on the 11th floor and from every window you can look over the Hudson. I have already visitors here so I have to hurry up. It is beautiful sunshine now. The company is gone now and I want to hurry to finish this letter. The Hamburgs and Bertl and the two girls are just wonderful to me and I feel already at home here. Their maid is a black beauty. I will try and take a picture of her. Please tell everyone how happy I am.

    Heartiest greeting and kisses,

    Trudel


    *[Trudel wrote this comment on her translation: "Years later, Willy Bloeser, who learned the business from Dad, worked in the U.S. for Merrill, Lynch and gave all credit to my Dad."]

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    May 21, 1934 New York, New York

    May 21, 1934 New York, New York

    [Editor's Note: This letter was begun on May 21, 1934, written over several days and finished May 24, 1934. ]

    May 21, 1934 315 W. 106th St., N.Y. Noon.

    My dear Goldchildren:

    Don’t be too happy that I am writing so much now, in the beginning but I am experiencing and see so much now that I like to keep a record of it before I forget some of it.

    Thursday evening I went with both girls for a walk on Broadway. We very shortly visited that man from the ship and were pretty early back home. Broadway at night looks exactly like you see in the movies and on pictures. When we came home some michpocha, who send their regards, were there.

    Friday I woke up at 9:00. I did not hear the girls leave. At 11:00 Mrs. Heinsheimer and Margot picked Gustl and me up and took us to the enormously large Radio City Music Hall, pretty new holding 5-6000 people. The whole show lasted from 11:30 to 3:00 p.m.

    First a movie, to which I have to get used to. They are so different from what they show in Germany, but the photography is wonderful. Next the ballet. You can’t imagine. About 100 girls all about the same nice figure, same color hair, not one wrong step. Excellent. And then a shortened version of Madame Butterfly all with beautiful scenery.

    The admission in the morning is not too much and the house is always full. You really got your money’s worth.

    Radio City post card

    Radio City Circa 1934

    The whole building is really beautiful. A very big foyer. On every floor restrooms for women and men. Big restrooms with everywhere running hot and cold water as much as you want all the time plus soap and paper towels. And the newest thing — an electric blower to dry your hands. And all that for free.

    After we had nourished our ears and eyes we went to eat in an automatic restaurant. For little money you get the best food there. Everything is very clean, orderly and appetizing. We then went by subway to their business to get a few things out of my trunk which I am storing there while in N.Y. Mr. H. showed me the place before we went home.

    At 5:30 Rudy picked me up with his car. He drove by the oldest Jewish cemetery here, through some of Chinatown which is very interesting. After diner I dressed up and Bertl pinned some white flowers, a pearl necklace, on my red dress.

    Women are wearing a lot of flowers even real ones. The styles here are very different. Much more elegant and chic. You all, especially Liss, should see how much I have Americanized already with powder and lipstick. The ladies have beautiful hairstyles — too fancy for me. A little longer over the ears and a roll away from the head and curls in the back. Also they use bright red nail polish. I will have to learn that too.

    window shopping

    Saks Style

    That reminds me that it would be a great idea for Doddo [one of Trudel's sisters] to learn beauty make-up and hairstyling. It is used so very much here. Also , it would be a good idea to learn to make good chocolate candies. Here they are lousy. But much better here is the ice cream.

    Maybe you could earn some money with the dessert we had at the gala dinner on the boat: good vanilla ice cream in an oblong square about 1 inch high. 2 inches wide and 3 inches long, covered with a very thin layer of chocolate and put on a wooden stick and wrapped in cellophane to eat out of the hand. It is called a Good Humor.

    I am enjoying the food here very much but would like a real salad like I am used to sometime since somehow it is very different here.

    Friday night we had lots of company, all young people here. Saturday we all slept late since the girls did not have school. After breakfast Bernice went with me to the harbor to mail the previous letter on the Aquitania and waited ‘til the ship left. That boat ran into a fireboat when it came in and wrecked it. We walked far around that.

    We went again in an automatic restaurant for lunch. There we met Marion the other Hamburg girl. Then the three of us went to the most elegant shopping area 5th Ave. We went into the two finest stores, Macy’s and Sax 5th Ave. You cannot imagine such elegant beautiful stores.

    Just image the best and biggest store in Frankfurt, one department is that size but much more beautiful. The windows are decorated fantastic. Then we went to Woolworth where I bought this pad of writing paper. The then big public library. We took a little rest at the gorgeous hotel Waldorf Astoria. That you cannot compare with anything in Germany. The size of the decorations’ everything.

    And everywhere free restroom toilets and washrooms — separate, men’s and women’s. Since the women use so much makeup they really need those places to refresh and repaint themselves.

    Then we looked at the Rockefeller Ctr. That is a big plaza with beautiful flowers and a gold statue and the big building. On the other side is the Empire State Building. The tallest building in the world. If it does not cost too much I hope to go to the top one day. We went through Radio City home and arrived very tired with sore feet about 6:00 p.m.

    Rockefeller Center

    Rockefeller Center

    After dinner Bernice and I went to visit an old friend from Germany around the corner from here. His room is on the 15th floor. We had a very nice visit and he walked us almost home but it started to rain and he ran home. We stopped at 9:30 at night to buy some hosiery.

    Before retiring I wrote a few very important postal cards and just as I went to bed a real big thunderstorm came up the Hudson. I have a great view of the river from my bed which stands right by the window. I always liked to watch thunderstorms but this was the biggest most beautiful I have ever seen and of course I thought of my sister Doddo which I do anyhow often.

    While I am writing now Bernice is playing the piano for me. This 5-room apartment with 3 bathrooms and a big kitchen is very comfortable and nice.

    That evening I had a letter from Aunt Henny. She thought I would only stay a few days in N.Y. and get through her son a free pass for the bus for me only good until today. That is impossible. So Ludwig went with me to the bus company. That pass is good until June 1st. On May 30 is a big holiday here and I do not want to be in the road that day. The 31st is too late, so I will leave here on Monday the 28th at 9:00 a.m. and will arrive in Chicago on Tuesday the 29th at 4:00 p.m. The trip takes 32 hours and costs only $4 including my baggage.

    I am so lucky with everything. I am really glad if I can relax when I get to Chicago. Sure hope everything keeps going o.k. Today it is very hot here but they say this is nothing. How is the weather there? Have you found a new apartment yet? Please show this letter to anyone interested, I can write it all once only. Did Liss get her birthday present. Now I have to think of every birthday two weeks in advance.

    Yesterday morning we went to services at the oldest synagogue here. 108 years old and very beautiful with wood carvings and beautiful painting. The girls all looked like birds. All white long dresses with short sleeves very elegant. All the same flower bouquet in their hands. The service was very good but it was very hard for me to understand much of it. I was introduced to the very much liked and very good nice Rabbi and we talked a little together. You can imagine how I felt.

    Continued May 22nd at Noon.

    Ernst Cahn just said to me now it is 5:00 p.m. in Frankfurt and Lotte is probably yawning and anxious to get home. Right?

    In the meantime had some more things happen to me. I got an invitation for dinner and will buy an American style dress tomorrow. I really need it.

    May 24th, 1934 10:00 a.m.

    Finally I get back to this letter.

    We went shopping yesterday morning and I bought a very pretty dress for only $3.50 and a pair of dressy white shoes for $3.98. More than the dress which is red with some little colored trim, short sleeves and 3/4 sleeves. It looks very good on me and makes me appear more like a U.S.A. girl.

    Last night I was for dinner at a very nice lady. Her sister and husband were there too. They all were real nice to me. They urged me to go to Chicago now and if I do not like it and cannot find work come back to N.Y. at any time. If the traveling costs are so little, I may be able to do that. After excellent dinner and pleasant conversation I went home at 10:30.

    What did you do on Shavuos? [Pentecost]. Nothing is noticed here. How were the confirmations on Shavuos?
    Did Alex get safely to Munich and back? Please send me the address of Adele. Is she still in the hospital? I really should write her once.

    I am closing this letter now so it won’t get too heavy and start a new one. Everybody here sends best regards. Greetings and kisses, yours …..

    Trudel


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