Monthly Archives: December 1934

December 2, 1934 “Here Santa Claus does not arrive until Xmas but I will try to celebrate on the usual date.”

December 2, 1934 “Here Santa Claus does not arrive until Xmas but I will try to celebrate on the usual date.”

Dec. 2, 1934

My dear Goldkinder,

It is again 1 week since I wrote to you last. Those seven days really go much too fast. Actually I have been writing to you too often lately and am neglecting all my other correspondence. But what am I to do if I always have so much to tell you. Yesterday I received Doddo’s nice letter with the “good luck” penny. It made me very happy. At the same time I received a birthday letter from Ilse.

The tin can from N.Y. has not arrived here yet and I am very much looking forward to it.

Here Santa Claus does not arrive until Xmas

Here Santa Claus does not arrive until Xmas but I will try to celebrate on the the usual date. [St. Nicholas Day is observed on December 6th in much of Europe. Presents were often opened the night before, which happened to be Trudel’s Birthday. Trudel’s Son]

Actually it makes sense that Santa Claus arrives here 2 weeks later. After all it took me 14 days to come here. Anyhow on my birthday it will be exactly 7 months since I left my beautiful Ffm. [Frankfurt am Main, Germany]

Trying to understand why some mail arrives opened

Isn’t it strange that only Doddo’s letter arrived opened? I used to think it was because of the business return address but the one I received yesterday had Beethoven Strasse as the return address. And it wasn’t because of that penny because Ilse’s letter had two hankies and a little box enclosed and was not opened. Anyway many many thanks for all your good wishes and the penny.

Postcard from the Rathskeller

Last Sunday after seeing “A Summer Nights Dream” in English we went to a new restaurant for a change. Just a block away from Leonard’s office. It is a real nice rathskeller, good food and nice dance music.

Monday we did not start work until 1:00 p.m., so I ate lunch with the very nice sister of Miss Samuel who works in a big department store downtown. She works on the 20th floor and when I am not busy I visit her sometimes.

By the way please excuse the ink spots in this letter. I dropped and broke my new 25¢ fountain pen.

Last week I made unintentionally a joke

Last week I made unintentionally a joke. Instead of saying about you girls sitting at your business all day I said on their business which means on top of the work.

Monday I was at Aunt Henny’s for a change. Tuesday eve I was home for a change. Actually, I was at the landlord’s. He gave me permission to sew on his sewing machine and we just visited a little afterwards with him and his wife and another couple who also live in the building. We listened to soft radio music until I thought it was time for me to retire.

Wednesday after work I went to see a German doctor who is here one year from Berlin. I got his address from a man in the wholesale millinery business.

After visiting for a little while we took the bus to the South Side together. On the way I stopped at Lindheimers who seemed very happy to see me. Since they had had supper already they heated up some German style red cabbage for me. I had not really intended to eat there but they did not let me leave until I finished the cabbage and the sausage. That is the big difference. Americans offer one only a cigarette or candy.

Aunt Henny took me to a new very rich customer

Then I met Aunt Henny who took me to a new very rich customer. I was there about 2 hrs and took only 6 hats with me to alter.

The only trouble is the fact that I have to pretend I am from France since only fashions from Paris are o.k. for her. While we were there her very snobbish daughter in a gorgeous evening dress was picked up by 2 young men in dress suits and top hats. Can you imagine?

Next Tuesday I will go there again and I hope she will be satisfied. I ripped all the hats apart and pinned them together as I thought they should look. She seemed to be satisfied with my ideas. She took a very beautiful gold bracelet, took it apart to put as trimming on 1 of the hats. It can always be repaired again. I wish I had 100 customers like that, then I would not have to work in a shop for somebody else.

Thursday we had a Holiday “Thanksgiving”

Xmas Decorations

Christmas on State Street

Thursday we had a Holiday “Thanksgiving.” Since I slept until 4:00 p.m. we skipped breakfast and had at 5 o’clock turkey dinner which is eaten here at this time of year like we had goose at home. On Tuesday we had a raffle at work so 1 of us could buy Turkey dinner. We will do the same once more before Xmas. You have no idea how much fuss they make here about Xmas although they only celebrate 1 day.

Friday we had a day off from work and I was bored all day which gave me time to work on those 6 hats. Yesterday morning, Chanukkah, I had intended to go to synagogue but was too busy.

I visited the uncle of the Berlin doctor. He is in the millinery business and he promised to let me hear from him when the season starts in January. He asked me a few questions in German and I did not realize till much later that I answered him in English.

For lunch I met Edith Grossberg plus father, brother and another lady. On the way I stopped to have some photos taken — 9 for 25¢. All very nice. Hope you like the enclosed.

Everything is beautifully decorated

Before going to Leonard’s office I did some window shopping. Everything is beautifully decorated, especially in the large toy departments. In the dept stores are so many people one can hardly get thru.

Mandel Brothers Tarzan Xmas display

Mandel Bros Dept Store Window

In the evening we had again dinner with the Singers, the portrait painter and his wife and then saw an excellent movie. Sorry I forgot the name. On the way home we stopped in a drug store for hot chocolate and afterward we sat for 2 more hours in their apartment.

Today, as usual on Sundays, I slept late. From 4 to 6 we were with Leonard’s adorable little girl in the Madison Park Hotel for dinner. I sang German songs to her.

And now as usual we are in his office. I really enjoy helping him at work. I can usually guess which book he needs next and I find it in his library of about 1000 books and after open it on the page he needs.

I hope we are going home early tonight. Before going to work tomorrow morning I want to work on those 6 hats.

I wonder if Aunt Henny will go to Florida this year.

I wonder if Aunt Henny will go to Florida this year. She keeps talking about it. But she wants to in the first place not give up her very lucrative Xmas card business now and 2nd she has not received any money from Julius yet and that has to be taken care of. He has paid the Aunt’s lawyer, Mr. Grossberg the 1st installment and Mr. Grossberg took me out for a wonderful lunch because of that.

I do not know what is wrong with Weils. After I explained that I am always busy on Sat and Sunday nights she replied that they are out every evening during the week and only home Sat and Sun. That is just the opposite of what other people do here. Well, we’ll get together 1 of these days.

I hope–I hope you are getting used to your new apt and feel as content there as I do in my Paradise here. Now I cannot think of anything else to tell you except that I ate oysters for the 1st time last week and did not like them.

My love and greetings to one and all.

Your loving,

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December 5 – A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

December 5  –  A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

A note from the editor:
Trudel was born on December 5, 1912 and died on October 12, 2007. By then she had had two sons, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, and now a third as well. She was known affectionately by all as “Omi.” A dozen years ago she was honored by her synagogue for a half century of volunteerism and participation. On that occasion, her granddaughter, my daughter Sarah Pelton, made some very special remarks. I thought that on the anniversary of her birthday I would share my daughter’s tribute with Trudel’s fans and followers, to give you an idea of the rich life the young woman you are meeting on these pages had over the next three quarters of a century. Today would have been her 99th birthday.

By the way the “Omi Cookies” Sarah refers to in this tribute are the same kind of cookies Trudel so eagerly awaited from Germany in her last letter and which she will talk about in the next. The recipe is at the bottom of the page.

A Tribute to Omi

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th birthday tribute

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th Birthday Party

I’d like to tell you a little story so that you can see my grandmother, Trudel Grossman, through her family’s eyes.

With two honks of the horn of her ‘88 Oldsmobile, Omi, my grandma lets us know she’s arrived for the usual Shabbos dinner at the Grossman house. Omi and Shabbos have come hand in hand for as long as I can remember. On Friday nights we have always alternated dinner at our house and dinner at Omi’s.

The car door opens and out climbs my tiny, high heeled, 86 year old grandmother. She makes her way to the top of our stairs loaded with shopping bags filled with all sorts of things from a dress she mended for me earlier in the week to slips of paper covered with questions she doesn’t want to forget to ask us.

As Omi comes through the door off comes her hat, which by the way she made herself, which makes her hearing aide whistle. Omi fidgets with her hearing aid for a few seconds until the high pitched sounds stops and then takes a seat on the stairs and hands out the goodies from her many shopping bags.

Omi then makes her way to the mirror in the front hall and pulls out her small brush and whisks her soft, thin, grey hair back into a short pony tail. I take a look into the mirror and see a strong, remarkable woman. A loving grandmother, mother, and friend who still drives all across the Chicago area doing errands for not only herself but other people.

After that we make our way over to the dining room. Each of us taking our usual spot. We say the blessing over the candles, the kiddish, and the motzi and then mom brings out dinner. With her usual appetite ( ya know she’s really got a somewhat surprising appetite for the 5 foot petite woman she is) Omi carefully chews off every last bit of chicken from the leg bone. Nothing is ever left on Omi’s plate, or left unused for that matter.

Even ripped nylons don’t go to waste in Omi’s house. She cuts them up and uses them as bands later to hold together anything and everything.

After dinner dad puts on the pot of coffee. While the coffee is brewing I take my place behind Omi’s chair to give her a massage while she tells about her week. She volunteered at the Mount Sinai Resale shop where she recently began doing their book keeping. Omi visited her friend Trudle at her Nursing home in Skokie twice, took her friend Maggie shopping, and did the synagogue’s shopping as well, she went the health club twice for her weekly swim and hot tub treatment, went to Friday night services at the Temple and somewhere in there she found the time to make a batch of her famous Omi cookies to send back to school with me.

For those of you who don’t know, Omi Cookies are a Trudel Grossman Specialty, she’s famous nation wide among her grandchildren’s friends because of these cookies. She has sent them everywhere. To Camp OSRUI in Wisconsin and with all of us on our various trips to Israel. Omi Cookies are simply very thin butter cookies.

But like Omi, looks can be deceiving, they may not look all that special on the outside but they are one of my favorite treats.

Some of you might remember the days when we all used to take a bus up to the Kallah [Synagogue annual retreat]. The bus ride home was never complete without the unveiling and distribution of Omi Cookies. I can remember being six years old and being so proud to pass out MY Omi’s cookies to everyone on the bus!

Trudel in Driver's Seat


As I finish Omi’s massage, Dad brings in the coffee and we have dessert. Once the last drop of coffee and the final bite of the desert she said she should not eat are gone, Omi gets ready to leave.

Hugging everyone goodbye and grabbing the now empty Jewel bags to reuse later Omi and I walk outside. Once she climbs back into her car, she gives us one farewell wave, and she drives away into the night.

Omi’s life has not been easy but through it all she has remained positive and has always given of herself. She has taught my Cousins Aryn, Maris, Seth and me the importance of perseverance and how to survive horrible things and never complain. She has really taught me who I want to be and what qualities are important to have in order to get by in life and still remain a person that you can be proud of.

Thank you Omi.

Trudel’s Famous Butter Cookie Recipe “Omi Cookies.”

Dough (which can also be used for pie crusts):
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 cups flour

1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Trudel's Kitchen

Trudel in Her Cozy Kitchen

let butter soften
mix after adding each ingredient
roll dough into sausage shape
slice as thin as you can (Omi used a cheese slicer)
put on cookie sheet lined with wax paper
spread glaze thinly over slices
bake for 20 min. at 275 degrees

Guten Appetit!

Thanks to another of Trudel’s granddaughters, Aryn Froum, who reports that Trudel told her this recipe while they were baking them in her cozy kitchen several years ago.

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December 9, 1934 – “Nobody else here knew that it was my birthday…”

December 9, 1934 – “Nobody else here knew that it was my birthday…”

[In English at the top of the letter]

Dear Ones:

If I had known Trudel always had goose on her birthday she would have had another one on Dec. 5th. So I was her only goose this year.

With love to you all,

Dec. 9, 1934
My dearest dear ones.


Saengerhalle in Niederrad

Isn’t it funny that I received a very nice birthday letter without a signature? Anyway there was a lipstick kiss under it and the postmark was Niederrad. So of course I can guess who wrote it. I also had a real sweet letter from Tante Ulli. She has always been so nice to me and I am glad you brought her something.

Well, another week has gone by and I have a few things to tell you. It is real miserable weather today. Quite cold and a little snow. Since yesterday I have my annual cold and decided to make myself comfortable in the lobby of the Devonshire Hotel, instead of joining Leonard and his darling girl. Later he drove to a radio station.

Devonshire hotel

Devonshire Hotel

Leonard was a wonderful nurse last night and this morning gave me the key to his room in case I do not feel well and want to lay down on his bed while he is gone all afternoon and evening. But, thank G’d I am now feeling much better except having a continuously running nose.

Now most important I thank you sooo much for the cookies and the “22.” It all arrived on time and is almost gone already. I took a piece of one of the the 2s with me to work and divided it with the workers at my table. Liss’s ears must have been ringing an awful lot, from the praises the girls sang over her baking.

Stollen shaped into candy cane

Stollen Shaped into a Candy Cane. The "22" referred to by Trudel was made of two stollen, each shaped into the number 2 in honor of Trudel's 22nd Birthday.

Leonard sure likes the butter cookies. If the box was near him it would be empty by now. This morning between the broken cookies I found 1 saying “Trudel”. Will I find some more surprises?

Actually the “22” was perfect while most of the cookies were broken but they taste just as well.

Aunt Henny gave me a very pretty necklace of hers which she had loaned me a few times during the summer. Leonard gave me a box of candy and since we both are very practical he had me buy a very nice 3 piece knit suit which came very handy today!

As soon as we both have time he wants to buy me a pair of nice black shoes. On the 5th we met after work and went for a delicious–no goose–dinner and then to a horse show.

The young beautiful wife of one of Leonard’s friends was in the show. We went afterwards for a cup of coffee and came home very late in a big snow. Nobody else here knew that it was my birthday but I received loads of mail which of course unfortunately have to answer all.

Old Heidelberg

Old Heidelberg

Since we did not find that nice couple on Wednesday we met them last night. We had a wonderful dinner at “Old Heidelberg” a real German very nice restaurant. Then we went to a Burlesque show. It probably was for me the 1st and the last time that I look at something like that. I really do not care to see all these almost naked women.

The very nice young wife of Leonard’s friend was anxious to see it. She was once in shows like that herself and now she is married to this very wealthy man. Leonard once represented her in court and she is very thankful to him for that.

On Friday I finished the hats for my new customers and received yesterday a $12 check for it. Isn’t that nice. That pays for 3 weeks room rent. For the porcelain figure I got $10. The lady would have liked to buy some more. Aunt Henny sold her for $10 the blue sweater, cap and shawl that I had given her. I wish I had just a little of her business ways.

Gwen Bishop

Gwen Bishop

On Tuesday we visited another brother of Julius Seckbach. His mother-in-law died last week and we thought this is a good time to visit them. Well, I used to think that we 3 sisters did not look much alike but I never saw such a difference between 3 brothers. And the 4th brother, who had been run over by a car, looked all together different too.

I kept looking at this man all the time because I could not imagine how he could be a brother of Julius. Anyway that day Aunt Henny received the 1st payment of $14 that the court ordered Julius to pay her. Enclosed was a very nasty note. Not only a lot of lies but trying in vain to give me a bad name. He tried to tell Dr. Grossberg that I was dating a married man, but he knew that Leonard has been divorced for over a year. Julius is such an idiot. People who know me know what to think of me and people who do not know me I could not care a bit what he tells them. By the way with this 3rd brother he is completely out. They do not talk together at all.

As you probably know Aunt Henny had the same cancer as our dear Mother but fortunately she thinks that it was found in time and completely removed. Now, this idiot talks about it in that letter! I sure hope she is right.

While I am writing I am listening to beautiful music on the radio. They are now playing a beautiful waltz and I can hardly sit still.

RCA Radio

Your new apartment must be very nice. Everybody tells me about it very enthusiastically. How is the new car? Does it start o.k.?

Everybody writes about the new theatre, it must be really very busy. By the way that letter without signature was the only one of the 12 I received this week that had been opened. Please do not write with business return addresses. Tomorrow I have a date with Hans Werthan who had already his appendix removed in the 10 weeks he is here. On Tuesday I hope to go ice skating. And now I will close and go to eat something downstairs in the Hotel Restaurant.

Love and kisses,


Note: Here is a link to an excellent discussion of how to make Stollen.
The recipe for the butter cookies is in the previous post at

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December 18, 1934 “I get so much fun out of making so many very inexpensive little packages.”

December 18, 1934 “I get so much fun out of making so many very inexpensive little packages.”

671 N. Dearborn St.

1, 2, 3 how time flies. I think I did not even thank you for all the good wishes in that “not signed” letter. So I thank you now.

Of course I take it for granted that you wonderful people wish me only the best just as you must know that I appreciate it and thank you.

I had so much on my mind… and I forgot it all.

I had so much on my mind that I wanted to write to you and now I forgot it all. Maybe if I try to think what I wrote last week some of my thoughts will come back. The way I am writing today you may think I am drunk but I assure you that is not the case.

This was rather exciting for me

Saturday we were in Leonard’s office and I listened to the speech he had prepared for the radio the next day. He also read several other wonderful speeches for me. Dr. Grossberg told me he was one of the finest and best speakers he knew.

Radio Studio

Radio Studio circa 1934

On the way home we stopped for a glass of wine and bought a bottle. I had told Leonard that I was tired of all those sodas, whiskey and cocktails and that I would like a good glass of white wine. So he bought some right away.

Sunday afternoon we were at his partner’s office and while the 2 men went over Leonard’s speech again, Flora-Mae, Leonard’s little girl, and I were playing together on the floor.

After we took the little girl home we were driven to the radio station about 3/4 hrs drive and after a very good dinner, I heard my friend over the radio. This was rather exciting for me while he did not think anything of it.

It makes me really feel good how my English is improving

We then drove back to his partner’s house and while the men talked business I visited with the wife. It makes me really feel good how my English is improving and I am able to make conversation.

The couple drove us to Leonard’s hotel and we stopped in the restaurant and first had some hot chocolate. Then he got out that bottle of wine he bought the day before and what was left of the cookies, which I stored in his room so they would not disappear in my place. And so we emptied that whole bottle and ate some cookies with it. As a result I really had a hangover yesterday but am fine again today.

Besides the letter to you, I wrote 4 more letters last Sunday and then went early to bed. My cold was much better on Monday.

Actually I had a date with Hans Werthan that evening but we could not get together. There was a very big snow storm in the afternoon like they had not had in many years and there was no way to get anywhere. Every transportation and everything was at a standstill. What normally takes 10 min on the streetcar took 1 hour.

On Tuesday it was much better and after work I did a little Xmas shopping. Leonard and I ate dinner together and I took the streetcar home right away so I could, like the previous evening, do a little sewing, reading, writing and washing, etc. I did not do much of anything but went late to bed.

I wrapped about 25 little packages which I will put into a pair of socks and hang on Leonard’s bed

On Wednesday we had no work so I slept half the day and monkeyed around my room. The only thing I really accomplished was to put all my photos from Germany in an album. Starting with Bad Pyrmont. I will need a new album.

to stuff with little packages

Also I wrapped about 25 little packages which I will put into a pair of socks and hang them on Leonard’s bed on 12/24. You must know that Santa Claus comes here on Xmas eve and fills the socks of the good children with presents while they are sleeping. I get so much fun out of making so many very inexpensive little packages.

a pearl purse

It would be nice if you would write to Aunt Henny sometime again. I will meet her tonight downtown. She sells Xmas cards in a place, belonging to Alfred Hamburger. I only heard of that last night on the phone and I will see it tonight. Wonder if she will ever get to go to Florida.

Thursday night I was in Dr. Grossberg’s office and he took me to a very nice dinner. I was home by 8 o’clock and did some repair on a pearl pocketbook for my 6 hat customers which took quite some time.

Lawson YMCA

YMCA 30 W. Chicago Ave.

Friday night I had a real Jewish dinner, not kosher, for the first time in several weeks. And of course I ordered fish. Then I went to visit [Mr.] Horkheimer who had been trying in vain to reach me. He lives in a beautiful building. It is called YMCA, Young Men’s Christian Association and is one of the best homes in Chicago. It has rooms for 725 men, inside pool, gym, table tennis, inside golf, target practice room, lending library, dance hall and several nice smaller rooms for playing cards, music or just visiting. He took me thru the whole beautiful building as far as I as a female was allowed to see.

A young man from Cleveland went along with us and it turned out that he knows Hans Roos very well. We danced 4 or 5 dances, had a chocolate soda and then I walked my 2 blocks home. Well my paper is almost full and my head almost empty. Now I have just 20 min to get going to be on time at work.


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December 24, 1934 “We celebrated a little Xmas in advance, these two days.”

December 24, 1934 “We celebrated a little Xmas in advance, these two days.”

Typewritten in German on Leonard J. Grossman’s office stationery.LJG Letterhead

December 24, 1934
Dear Goldkinder.

Just received Papa’s nice letter in which he tells me that my 1st letter typed was so clear to read. Were the previous ones not clear? Anyway I felt obligated to type this one too. Birthday card from dear Papa not received.

The cookies and baked “22” are already all eaten with a lot of praise and thanks and with hopes of some more in the not too long future. I received some more birthday letters and cards and they are all waiting to be answered.

So far I have not learned to drive. Len lives only 4 blocks from me. So we do not need any transportation between us.

Lebkuchen for Xmas or Christmas


You were surprised that Aunt Henny so quickly gave up her apartment and sold her (little) furniture. Nothing surprises me anymore. One gets used to a lot of strange behaviors here. She sold her Christmas cards just like you do with chocolate and lebkuchen.

By the way how was the Xmas business? Did it go o.k. without me too?

I am still at the same job although we had very little work the past couple of weeks, but at the end of this week all of a sudden we received so many orders that we worked on Saturday and started an hour earlier today.

We also celebrated a little Xmas in advance, these 2 days. We had a so called “grab bag,” which means everybody bought something for 10¢. It all was put into 1 big box with a string put on each and we all took hold of 1 string and pulled out all at the same time whatever he or she caught. It was really a lot of fun. I got two hankies. Then we had coffee and whipped cream cake and for lunch we got 2 little glasses of very good wine.


A Highball

When we went home I had 2 “High balls.” That is whiskey and ginger ale. Then I walked home to my room in a pretty hard snowfall. I filled some socks with all kinds of little things and hung them with a pretty red ribbon over Leonard’s bed.

Did you know that here the children hang up their stocking at Christmas eve for Santa Klaus to fill up. He does not even come on Dec 6th.

Shirley Temple Doll

Click Doll for UTube of "Bright Eyes"

Sat. night we went shopping for Flora Mae and Leonard got her a beautiful Shirley Temple doll that I would have loved to play with and also a couple of games. Have you heard about Shirley Temple? She is a darling 5 yr old movie actress. If one of her films is shown in Ffm you should really go to see it. We saw her again in the “Chicago Theater” in a show called Bright Eyes.

Also, they showed pictures of some people from the Saar, who had gone home for a short period of time to vote. It was the 1st time ever I heard German singing in a movie theater. They also had a very nice, good Christmas program.

Tuesday night Aunt Henny slept with me, and Wednesday after working from 1-5 we went downtown. First window shopping and a little shopping. Then I called Leonard if he would like to join us for dinner which he accepted.

I went with him to the office after eating and he cleaned off his desk, planning to walk home. Instead he started telling me very interesting things from his school years. Before we realized it was 1:00 a.m. It reminded me of Alex talking about the war.

Thursday night I spent with the 2 Samuel girls. I was home at 10:30 p.m. but foolishly I read a little and in hopes of learning more English tried to work a crossword puzzle. But Friday night when I again had fish in a “Jewish style” restaurant, I went to sleep at 9:30 p.m.

Starting with 1935, I do not think I will write quite as often anymore. I am afraid your safe will get too full otherwise. I hope you will start the New Year O.K. and expect to do the same. My best wishes to all for a healthy and good 1935.

That is all I can think of right now so I shall end this letter. There is only 1 day Christmas holiday here although 2 days would be nicer. Only I lose pay every day I don’t work and that is not so good. I received 1 Xmas card but Leonard got and sent about 200. He got 1 from the current Mayor of Chicago and also from a former Mayor besides Judges, Lawyers, Aldermen etc. etc. I am having trouble keeping up with my correspondence. In the future I guess I will write letters only to you regularly–only a postal card here and there to all the others.

Snowy evening around Xmas in Chicago

A Snowy Evening in Chicago

Happy New Year,

Your Trudelchen

At the bottom of the letter, in English:

Xmas Eve 12/24/34
The friendship of Trudelchen and me means much more than words can tell. May I thank the gods of destiny. She looks radiant and well and as we approach the next year I hope it will be for each of you filled with just as much joy as dear Trudel has brought to me. ‘Tis LJG sends this to thee now guess who may the sender be.

Editor’s note: I am used to having the same first name as my father, but I never heard my father referred to as “Len” before reading this letter.

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