Monthly Archives: March 1935

March 1, 1935 “My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something.”

March 1, 1935  “My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something.”

March 1, 1935

My Golden Goldkind:

Actually the weather is much too nice to be sitting here writing to you. But what does one not do for love. After having a big snowstorm and very cold weather this week, we now have beautiful spring weather.

If you receive a letter with the stamps upside down, Leonard must have mailed it. Here nobody pays much attention to that.

First of all I like to answer Dear Papa’s letter of Feb. 13.

I have not talked to or seen Grossbergs for ages. The Mother has gone on my nerves for a long time since she is so slow and boring. And the daughter is too intelligent for me to keep up with her. We have really very little to talk about. And that club does not really interest me anymore.*

Dear Papa asked me what Aunt Henny is living on. That is really something I am wondering about too. I visited with her Monday night and I am always trying to find out what she does during the day. But to no avail. She does not tell me. After I went with her looking for a room in my neighborhood she called me that she just moved around the corner from her old place. So she won’t need my suitcase that I was going to loan her for moving, also it goes almost daily to court filled with books and papers. On Tuesday she helped at the election for the Democratic party. We are Republicans.


Grace Gray

Did you forget to keep your fingers crossed for us? As we had feared, Grace Gray was not elected. After all she was the first woman ever to run for Mayor of Chicago and that makes history. While the other candidates spent loads of money, she did not spend a penny, but she made a lot of new friends.**

Of course we spent the evening at her house and I am sure that it was not any nicer, relaxing, enjoyable and merry at the house of Mr. Kelly the newly elected mayor. We were about 25 people. Her [Grace Gray’s] mother, daughter, son-in-law and grandchild and best friends. Mr. Gray has a special cocktail called: “Bosom Caresser” of which I drank 4 glasses and a glass of beer. Besides they served wonderful cold cuts and all kinds of pickles, mustard etc.

Bosom Caresser Recipe

Bosom Caresser Recipe

Except for 1 man who came rather late we all were a little more or less very cheerful, a little tipsy.

I really talk and understand English quite well now and feel very much at ease in American company. Just as we were ready to leave I was introduced to a couple who just came. Her parents came from Stuttgart and she has a cousin, “Heidecker” in Ffm. Unfortunately we had very little time to talk.

Bosom caresser

Grace's Drink

This week I have felt like usually during Mardi Gras. Saturday morning I was about 3 hrs downtown with Mrs. Saunders. Then I met Claire Samuels and we went to see her sister-in-law, also a German girl, with an adorable 2 yr old boy who knows exactly with whom to talk German or English.

For the 1st time here I had a real afternoon coffee and I took home a hat to be altered.

Dear Papa: you really have no idea about prices here. Gwen bought recently 3 beautiful hats at $2 each. And I should charge $3 for alteration? Actually I had saved a little money but had to use it all during the quiet season. I do not skimp on anything but try to make surprises for others. Starting next week I hope to be able to save a little again.

Saturday after dinner at Samuels I went to the North Side to meet Leonard at a meshuggenah club. They are all atheist, a very funny bunch who had asked to Len to speak.


A great spot for afernoon coffee

Actually I am glad now that I do not understand everything in English. Otherwise I would have a red face all the time. That were the kind of jokes they were telling. I met a few very nice rich people who read the announcement of the meeting in the paper and came only to hear Leonard. It was really a nice entertaining evening and did not break up until 2:00 a.m. Of course on Sunday I slept ½ of the day as usual.

Then Leonard and I went downtown to different newspaper offices to take care of some things for Grace Gray. We then went to her house. She is not allowed to go out since her recent car accident. She is OK again, and we had a very good supper there and stayed until 1:00 a.m.

Monday at work at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., home from Aunt Henny and still shampoo. Tuesday 9:00 a.m. at work. Evening at Grays’. Home 1:00 a.m., Wednesday 9:00 a.m. at work. Evening at Gwen’s. Already 11:30p.m. to bed.

Yesterday again 9:00 a.m. work and as a result of so little sleep, I fell asleep while waiting for work until the boss woke me and asked if I was OK. I told him that I still had a little hangover from the beginning of the week. Last night, I fixed the two hats for the Samuel girls and was in bed at 10:30 pm.

It felt good to sleep from 10:00 p.m. to 8 a.m. for a change. We have hardly any thing to do at work. I have not earned 20 cents so far today. My boss just asked me if I am writing a book because he sees me writing so much.

I hope you have received the Chicago map by now. From the family Klee I can find only 1 son left. If he could still remember you? Guess this is all for today. More next week.

Best regards to all from all.

Loads of love and kisses from your

PS My forelady just told me that I can’t sit still for 5 minutes without writing or doing something. Mrs. Saunders said the same last week. I am not all nervous.

PPS Julius Seckbach, who now lives with Mr. Kasterlitz (better known by me as Opa) came to Leonard’s office asking for my address. He did not get it. Leonard does not want me to have any contact with him. Thanks G’d.

*Trudel mentioned going to a “Chai-Club” with the Grossbergs in an earlier letter. Apparently to help her with her English.
**The election Trudel is talking about was the Republican primary. Edward J. Kelly won the Democratic primary which was held the same day and was eventually elected mayor.


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March 8, 1935 – I was very very grateful when they delivered me safe and sound at my door.

March 8, 1935 – I was very very grateful when they delivered me safe and sound at my door.

671 N. Dearborn
My Dear Dear-ones, golden goldchildren, dirty bums, sweet sugar cookies, and lazy no-writers! Each one of you can pick which name fits best.

It is really unbelievable how fast time goes. This week I had a wonderful time again. On Saturday, I was again at Samuels. Clem had the great idea for me to use rollerskates to go from their house to her sister-in-law’s. Unfortunately, my skirt was too tight. Maybe next time I’ll try to see if I can still rollerskate. Can you picture that?

So, anyway, we played Rummy and it was as usual very gemutlich. Afterwards, I sat in Len’s office until 3:00 a.m. While he was working, I read newspapers, worked crossword puzzles and crocheted. I am really nuts sitting there so long.

On Sunday I was (for a change) tipsy (to put it mildly). At 2:00 p.m. Gwen and Eddy picked me up with their car, to celebrate the 1st anniversary of their acquaintance. At the same time Eddy wanted to talk to one of his clients in a nearby town. But not much became of that. When they picked us up at Leonard’s hotel neither one of us had had any breakfast and were both very hungry. Leonard bought a small bottle of milk, as it is being sold here, and a few cookies which we tried to consume while riding in the car. Of course every time he or I tried to put the bottle to our mouths the car for some reason or other jumped a little. Please do not picture what we both looked like, I would really be ashamed. Well, it tasted good and we were both laughing about it.

Gwen and Eddy's Car

Eddy, who had started to drink early in the morning already, was thirsty again, so we stopped about ½ way at a real nice little tavern right on the highway. We were driving west on Roosevelt Road, to have something to drink. During the two hours we stayed there we each had six or eight whiskeys, highballs, etc. We had a real nice time there. When we left I think I was the only one who still knew at all what I myself and the other three were doing. Of course I too was in a very high spirits. Then we drove on.

Eddy stopped at a movie theater, trying to see his client, while Gwen and I went to the washroom. I cannot explain the walk from there to the car. It seemed to me three times as long as it really was. Then Eddy drove us to the restaurant which really was our goal. A beautiful place, very lovely, decorated, elegant, in a very small town, with a great bar. Gwen, who did not know any more what she was doing, sat down at the Bar with a glass while Leonard and I sat at a table nearby. Eddy kept changing between the two. We had a fantastic steak dinner, danced, drank and had a really good time. Anyway, I was very very grateful when they delivered me safe and sound at my house door at 11:30 p.m. after we stopped in the neighborhood for a sandwich and a cup of coffee.The following Wednesday, when I was at Bishops’ as usual, they asked me about several things they could absolutely not remember.

Baker Hotel

Monday I visited Aunt Henny in her new rooms, just around the corner from where she lived before. I suppose you will write to her again for her birthday. Her new address is Hotel Cerf, 3635 Blackstone, room 8. She only moved because she had no phone on the other place, which is really very important in such a big city.

Tuesday I was for supper at Gus and Marie Bing. They were really awfully nice. Marie is trying to get me in where she is working now, and if it does not work out Gus told me that Budwig (where I worked before) is starting again and I should go to him. Maybe he will take me again. Anyway, I have to wait till next week. Something will work out that I find something better. Now that the new season is starting is the right time to look.

The weather has been so nutty that one does not know how to dress. One day just ice and snow and the next beautiful sunshine.

Last night for a change I was in bed at 9:30 p.m. It was really necessary.

Tonight I will have one of those nice relaxing Shabbos evenings at the Samuels. Tomorrow at Weils. In general I am quite lazy — darn socks, only when I have no more to wear without holes, do my laundry just once a week, also started three or four letters but did not finish. I am crocheting a black skirt for Gwen and carry that with me everywhere I go even if I do not work on it.

Hotel Baker

Hotel Baker

For Aunt Henny’s birthday I will make her a brown straw hat and a stand for it. Nobody can understand that I have not had a word from my slster Lotte in three months, and even from Erna in two months. Yes, that is the way it goes. Of course I tell people, well, then I do not have to write to them either!

Last week a lady called me from the new “Immigrants’ Club” but I was not at home. She left her name and phone number. I am really not interested. I feel very happy here without their help. Only if I could get some customers for hats, but I doubt that very much.

The mysterious phone call from two weeks ago has not been cleared yet. By the way, Mr. Arthur Eggener, fiance of Clem Samuels, will probably get in touch with you in the near future. He will come here in in a few weeks and would be glad to bring me some butter cookies. With this I am ending this megilla, with a hearty kiss for each of you. Best regards to all when [they] ask for me.

Your loving daughter and sister,
Gertrude Adler
671 N Dearborn Street.
Phone: Dearborn 5425

Trudel often told of a wild ride out to the Baker Hotel in St. Charles, Illinois. I believe that was the trip she describes in this letter.


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March 17, 1935 – Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.

March 17, 1935 – Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.


My Dear Ones,

When I have a lot to tell you I just never seem to find enough time. For a change this is happening again this week.

First of all, I am very glad that Doddo wrote me again after three months. The photo I think is excellent. Gabor is really a great artist. Weils did not want to believe that it is Doddo. Leonard is very charmed and everybody else I showed it likes it very much. When will I get such a photo of Pappa and Ernale?

Lotte Adler

Lotte Adler (Probably later photo)

What is the matter with Steffi? What’s happened to her? Why did she come back? I have no idea at all. It all sounds so strange to me what you write.

Did you not receive the answer to your postal card very fast?

I like to add that Max should get in touch with Aunt Henny first, before he starts any business with Uncle Alfred. As I wrote you before, he is not too reliable business-wise, especially at such a distance.

Everybody who sends me regards, please reciprocate.

Now to myself again. When did I write you last? Oh, yes! Last Friday. That evening I had as usual a very good dinner at Samuels.

Saturday I was at Weils from noon on and when I arrived I had to eat bean soup and sausage right away. Then we listened on the radio from the New York Metropolitan Opera live “Tristan and Isolde.”*


Click for YouTube

Afterwards Eugenie and I went shopping. She is the funniest person I have met.

For supper a 59th cousin of ours and his young wife joined us. To be a little more clear: his grandfather was Max Adler, from Arheiligen, oldest stepbrother of Aunt Jenny Weil – which means a cousin of our Dad. Do you remember him? He came to the USA when you were about 12 years old. He had one son and one daughter. The daughter, Mrs Mitchel, has several sons and daughters and he is one of those. A very nice young fellow.

He is here about five months but was earlier for one year in Washington. It was interesting to meet more relatives.

Leonard was supposed to join us but he worked until 6:00 a.m. Sunday in his office. Of course he had not much ambition on Sunday. So we only took a little walk, read the papers, listened to the radio and I crocheted and went early to bed.

Monday evening I was again at Aunt Henny’s. She is in good spirits and goes out quite a bit. No idea with whom!

Tuesday evening I worked downtown. Gwen recommended me to a lady who has a little hat shop at Washington and Wabash Avenues on the 7th floor. She is Jewish and very nice. Of course, I was delighted to make hats. I will be working for her now every Tuesday and Thursday evening and all day Saturday.

Also she took me Wednesday morning to the best hat wholesale house and introduced me to the manager and told her I would like to work for them. She told me to be there at 8:30 a.m. the next day. They really had enough workers, but she wanted to try me out. You can not imagine how happy I was.

Garland Building

Garland Building*

I went once more to the old job, but told the manager that I was quitting that day. She really had been very nice to me, letting me come to work many days 3 hours earlier than the other girls so I could get a little more work out. I actually worked too nice for that place.

Pittsfield Building*

Wednesday night I was at Gwen’s but went home early and early to bed. The next morning at 8:30 I was at the new job at 12 S. Michigan Ave. 50 or 60 girls. Completely handmade hats. Work like I did at Ethic Schariot. But so exactly like the model, and I am not at all used to that anymore. If only I had never seen those very cheap so-called hats.

Of course all the women were much too busy to show or explain something to me. Those two days 3/14-15 were probably the worst for me business-wise. The first hat I made was in their opinion useless. I remember when I worked for Hilda Lorsch how upset I was when we ordered something and it was not exactly like the original. Maybe it was made by a person who tried as hard and was as unhappy as I was those two days. After that first unsuccessful try, the manager gave me another model to try my luck but that was not good enough either.

The manager was very nice. She saw that I was sewing very well but explained that they were too busy to teach me and I should not waste my and her time. Nevertheless she was nice enough to rip that hat and make it over. Before I put the trimming on it I showed it to her and all of a sudden it was O.K.

I had been so careful and finished it and she told me to come again on Monday. Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.

Of course I am not sure that they will keep me. The head manager had not seen my work yet and it depends how I continue to the work. But I think I learned some tricks already and it may work out. And if it doesn’t I go one floor higher in the same building where Marei Bing is and I am sure they will take me.

In any case I will not go back to those very cheap hats. I did learn a lot in those two days but was so tired that I was in bed at 9 o’clock.

Yesterday I worked for Miss Cooper downtown.

In the evening we went to a real kosher restaurant. In this kosher place you get butter served if you eat milkish or meat! The place is very clean and not more expensive than other restaurants.

Yesterday the case against the yogi was finally concluded. So this case is finally over and to celebrate we went to a movie for a change. An excellent film: The Barretts of Wimpole Street. I recommend it to you if it comes to Ffm.

Wimpole Street Poster

Click for YouTube

Today we were all afternoon here in the hotel with Flora Mae. I took three snapshots on the way here. I hope they come out OK. I started this letter when Leonard left to take Flora Mae home, just a couple blocks from here. I can’t understand what takes so long.

Also I have no idea what time it is, according to what I have written it must be a long time since they left. Now he is coming. I hear his voice. So, I am finishing this, so we can eat. My stomach is growling.

I do have a very good appetite, but fortunately I have not gained any weight. On the opposite in the ten months since I am in this blessed land I have gotten seven pounds lighter.

Today we had beautiful weather but pretty cold. Yesterday snow and ice, the day before summerlike and the day previous warm and rain. I guess I wrote enough now. I cut out the enclosed newspaper clippings while I ate breakfast yesterday.

Now I close with greetings and kisses

*The YouTube clip is from the same performance of “Tristan and Isolde” that Trudel and the Weils listened to over the radio from the Met. I grew up listening to the Met on the radio every Saturday afternoon with Trudel – usually in her 1941 Dodge.

*The Garland and the Pittsfield buildings are across the street for one another on Wabash at Washington. It is more likely that Trudel worked at the Garland Building, which had smaller shops and stores. I remember Trudel taking me there to small shops that sold buttons and ribbons and other kinds of trim she used on hats. A wonderland for a little boy. Today the famous Cajun restaraunt, Heaven on Seven is in the building on the 7th Floor. (I worked in the Pittsfield Building when I was 13 years old.)

Apologies for the commercial at the beginning of the “Barrets of Wimpole Street” YouTube. I couldn’t find an ad-free version.

I had always thought the professional photo of Trudel used as the top image this week was taken in late 1936 but my brother tells me he believes it was taken in Germany before she came to the States. Perhaps it was taken by Gabor, the photographer she refers to above.

Special thanks to Chuckman’s Chicago Nostalgia site. Many of the vintage images I use on this site are courtesy of John Chuckman. It is worth exploring


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March 24, 1935 – “I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more.”

March 24, 1935 – “I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more.”


My Dear Ones:

Last night I started answering your dear letter dated 3/8. Since I forgot to take with me today yours and the letter I started, I shall answer it next week.

I was quite busy all week. As a result I did not do a lot of things.

Last Sunday evening I met a few more nice people, then we went to an excellent chicken dinner and then home. Monday night I was at Aunt Henny’s and we played Rummy for a change. Auntie’s nice friend, who had driven us to Michigan City, happened to drop in and since he lives in my neighborhood, I got a ride home in his car.

Tuesday I worked at Miss Cooper’s. I am afraid I have to give that up. It is too much for me to work from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, with only twice one hour intermission.

Wednesday, I had dinner with Mrs. Sanders and then finished the skirt I was crocheting for Gwen. I tacked it to my floor and steamed it so it would have the right shape. It looks very nice and I am anxious to see next week how it looks on Gwen. The sweater I had to take home again since I made the sleeves too tight. Hopefully I will have it ready by next Wednesday.

RCA Radio

RCA Radio

Thursday I had dinner with Saunders again. For $5 I bought their old radio for Leonard’s room. Naturally I went to his room right away and connected it. This is very easy here. You just plug the cord into a wall outlet. He was very pleased with it.

I worked all week at “Gages” but realized that I could not work there for long. Maybe if I had started there before the start of the season, somebody could have shown and explained some things to me.

Now that everyone was very busy they had no time for me. I learned some things differently. When I followed the sample exactly, they wanted some changes made which I did not understand. If something was 2 millimeters different the whole thing had to be ripped. That is no good for me. I cannot make any money that way. I think I would go nuts.

Gage Building

Gage Building

Anyways for the 2 days of the first week I got $6.40 while at the old job at Lipper I got only $6.21 for 3 days’ work. Well, to make my story short, on Friday morning I finished a hat I had started, took my belongings and explained to the manager that I was not good enough for them, and left. I did learn a lot while I was there and will get paid for it. I left there at 9:00 am and for the first time in eight months was without a job. But I just could not worry about it.

It was such a beautiful spring day that I would not let anything upset me.

First I went 2 floors higher, in the same building, to see Marie Bing. She was very sorry that she could not hire me. We just visited for ½ hour. Then I went to see 2 school friends of Leonard whose address I got last Sunday.

Friday is the worst day to go job hunting

Friday is the worst day to go job hunting. They want all to finish as much as possible. I did talk to 1 of his friends and the manager. They took my address; “Maybe next week.” Then I went several floors down to a place where I knew somebody too. “Maybe next week.” Then I went across the street where Budwig had opened again: “Maybe next week.” Then I went to another place where I had been a few months ago. “Maybe next week.”

So I went to Mss Cooper to get some more addresses. When I came to the first one it turned out to be the company I had been looking for all morning.

They wanted me to start immediately. But since it was 11:30am they told me to eat lunch and come back afterwards. So I worked there Friday 1:00 to 6:30 pm. They manufacture similar junk as at Lippers, but better than not having any work at all. I sure am lucky!

Friday night I was at Samuels again. I invited myself for Friday nights there for the future. It is always so nice and restful at their home. Of course I always do some sewing and fixing for them when I am there.

At 10:30, we all piled into 2 cars to drive downtown. A cousin and his wife were here for 1 week and we took them to the bus to go back to NY. Afterwards the 8 of us went for ice cream and I was driven home at midnight. You can believe that I really slept well that night.

And now comes the best. Yesterday I received a letter from the company of Leonard’s friends that I should start there Monday morning at 8:30 am. Of course I will be there, work 1 day and see which job I like better. How do you like that? Now I have to choose which I like better!


Click image for YouTube

Anyway I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more. No 2 work exactly alike and I sure have learned a lot.

Yesterday I was home all day. I really had laundry to do, darn socks, sewing and mending etc. At 7:00 pm I picked up Leonard at the office and after eating we went to see a movie. Wallace Beery and Adolph Menjou in “The Mighty Barnum” — very good.

On the way home we both caught colds. It was beautiful and warm all day. When we left the movie house it suddenly got very cold. The weather really changes often very fast. Sine it was raining and cold all day today we only went to eat together. Now we are sitting in his hotel lobby. Leonard fell asleep while reading the paper so I may write a few more letters. For today I send you millions of greetings and kisses.

Your Lucky Trudel

PS How are Hedwig and children? Please give her my best regards and good wishes for a speedy recovery. I may write to her yet tonight.

PPS regards to all friends especially Liss.

Chicago was a center for the wholesale milinery business in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Gage Bros., was one of he most successful. The story of the “Gage Group,” a set of buildings built for Gage and two other hat manfuacturers on Michigan Avenue is part of Chicago’s architectural history. See also this excerpt from Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago department store By Joseph Siry. Click forward for several pages on the Google Books site to put the story in context.

This group of buildings was just a bock away from the Garland and Pittsfiled Buildings on opposite corners of Washington and Wabash where Trudel looked for work in her previous letter.


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