Tag Archives: family

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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February 22, 1935 “The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.”

February 22, 1935 “The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.”

Feb 22, 1935
671 N. Dearborn St.

My very dear Goldchildren:

How do you like me? Here everybody thinks the photo is very nice. Especially Leonard, who got an enlargement for a Valentine, likes it very much.

It is exactly 3 yrs that we 3 had our pictures taken at Gabor Hirsch* and 1 yr ago today I was with the motorbike at the cemetery.

Trudel Erna Lotte

Trudel, Erna, Lotte - 1932

I guess I bought my Hyacinth bulbs too late this year. They are not blooming yet as they should today on Mother’s birthday. Did one of you go to the cemetery today?* How does the grave look? Is my geranium still alive?

I really intended to go to the synagogue tonight but I am invited at Samuels again like last Friday night. I feel very much at home with them. Father Samuel makes Kiddish. It is a household very much like ours used to be. The girls call each other by the same silly names as we used to do.

Erna Tows Trudel

Trudel and Erna 1934

Last week a brother of Mr. Samuel who is here 45 yrs was there. He lived for some time in Darmstadt. So they all talked Frankfurter and Darmstaedter German.

Dear Papa do you or did you know Leopold Hirsch and Adolf Furth? They are related to Samuels.

Last Saturday I heard Leonard for the first time talking in court, in the Yogi case. After 4 hrs the case was postponed.

On Sunday Flora Mae had her 6th birthday. I made a real cute present for her — A clothes hanger as a doll, from material from my evening dress and some red velvet. It really is very pretty. In honor of the day we took her along to the radio station in Hammond. And then she had dinner with us at the Madison Park Hotel. Besides her birthday we celebrated my being 3/4 yr in the U.S.A.

LJG Argues for Yogi Roy

Click to read story

Now that we are working full time again I can write in my lunchtime again or do something else.

I had to make my brown coat and skirt much tighter and took out enough material to make a cap for myself.

Something strange happened to me last night, while I was at Mrs. Saunders, the lady here in my house. The Landlord called to ask her if she would take a message for me. He knows we are good friends and see each other daily. He said a woman called and said she was my German friend and would like to meet me at 7:00 p.m. tonight or call her. I am supposed to have her phone number#. Well, I immediately called Claire Samuels but it was not her. Now I cannot imagine who it was. Maybe it was a hoax. Well, she can call again. Last Wed. I was as usual at Gwen’s.

I think I wrote you before that I was making hats for her and a new customer. Saturday the new customer returned hers.

Why did Erna not take her skis with her to Oberreifenberg? That would have been more fun. I did not see Aunt Henny all this week. She called me Tuesday night but I was not at home. Now I have to spend several nickels until I can reach her. Otherwise I do not know anything more today. I am very tired since I am too lazy to go to bed every night and stay up much too late. I hope to hear from you soon again.

A million kisses,
Yours Trudel.

*Gabor Hirsh was a famous German photographer. Trudel may have been talking about his studio or shop

*Trudel’s mother died in 1933, nearly a year before Trudel left Germany.

[Spoiler alert: References to “Leonard,” refer to the man who would become my father. He was Leonard Jacob Grossman. I was named Leonard Albert Grossman. Editor ]


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October, 1935 – Letters, Letters, Letters – “I see her face light up as she reads…”

October, 1935 –  Letters, Letters, Letters – “I see her face light up as she reads…”

Trudel’s notes are brief but we have a long love letter from Leonard to Trudel’s family, full of love and sweetness.

Her translations for October, 1935 contain only short entries, in the “diary” style she adopted after translating the first thirteen months of letters which took 250 handwritten pages. I wish she had kept the original letters after translating them so that I could get them translated now, but in her practical way, once she had extracted the information she wanted, she threw the originals away. It’s funny, she used to save everything, but as she got into her mid-80s she started “simplifying.” I think that may be one reason she started the translation project.

Fortunately her files also include a typewritten letter from my eventual father, to her family. Enjoy.

Temple Sholom

Temple Sholom

Rosh HaShana at Temple Sholom.
New photo for our anniversary.

Nothing special. Only that on Sukkos the synagogue was only ½ as big as on the high holidays. The whole wall with the ark and the altar was moved to the front.

Trudel and LJJ

Not their anniversary portrait

Typewritten letter from Leonard to Trudel’s family after receiving radiogram from them congratulating Trudel and Leonard on their engagement.

October 7th, 1935

My Dear Father, Lotta, and Erna:

Again I must thank you for the loving vibrations coming our way, especially since dear Father’s birthday. The radiogram was so “Schneidig” but Lotta dear, your letter to me, and dear Erna’s letter to my darling Trudel gave us a slow motion picture, which speeded up as we read of your first emotions. But while you write a beautiful German, with a splendid penmanship Lotta dear, Trudelchen has told me you speak a lovely English, so why not let me in on it in your next? Now you can call me anything you wish, sister, but I am “in law” all day long and I want to be closer to you that just “Schwager.” Can’t I be a brother to you girls? And Lottie, if I am your brother I’ll spell your name right next time.

I can read your lines, but I am not as good a scholar as Trudel, who translates your letters to me just as if she was reading English, without one moment’s hesitation. Her English is remarkably fluent, and when she reads your German letters to me in English I get a double joy out of them, for I hear the tender music of her voice, see her face brighten up as she reads, and feel your loving thoughts for both of us as we thus read your welcome letters over and over again. If the idea of the record was nice, as you say, it was Trudel’s idea so far as I was concerned. She’s just full of bright ideas.

Of course I could not still the love notes in my voice if I wanted to, and I don’t want to, because dear ones, I am in love. I agree with you Lotte, that you could write oftener without breaking any American laws, and your letters would be so welcome. Trudel has told me, not alone of the many happy Sundays, but of the many happy days with you and Erna, and her dear Father. How devoted all of you were in aiding her happy departure from home she has told me, each in your own way doing all you could, for which I thank you, for it was to me you sent her, even if you didn’t know it at the time.

The greatest happiness you can give Trudel, and it may surprise her if it’s true, is to hear that things go better with you all. Only a place everlasting in your hearts, and your happiness, is all she needs, for she worries and wonders, when she reads the papers and reads between the lines. But no word will she ever speak to satisfy American curiosity. Verstehst? But we were pleasantly surprised with the key ring “Schlüssel Schone” as dear Father calls it, because it’s so much more elegant, even than the one she brought with her, and gave to me, which is pretty well worn out by now. Thank you for mine, Lotta, and you Erna for hers, and you dear Daddy for getting the girls to get them for us.

My mouth is watering already for the home made cookies “butter plaetschen.” Yum yum. Love can span the highest mountains and the farthest seas. So the distance will not always keep us apart because Trudel dear is attached to you, and I love you for what you mean to her. Now that we’ve crossed the ocean, let’s see what’s next in your letter, Lotta? I gave dear Trudelchen the kiss you asked me to give her. Now that I gave her a kiss for you that’s one you owe me.

And dear Erna your lovely English gave me a thrill. But it’s nothing unusual for one of the Adler girls to thrill me. And while you did not write a long note to me in Lottie’s letter, yours to precious Trudel was doubly appreciated by her. I felt the love with your greetings just as you wrote it, and your description in Trudel’s letter had us drinking in every word.

What a lucky man I am, with the love of three wonderful girls all mine for life, for the one I have near me will be my wife, and you two, who are near my heart tho many miles away, can understand how close I must feel to you and Father dear who sacrificed much, as I am sure you all did, to make dear Trudel’s coming her possible.

And now that I have written you a small sized book, Trudel says not to worry, that you have a large English-German dictionary. Maybe someone will be using it again, if I write too often.

Trudel fasted well, and we have just had the first meal after her 24 hour fast. She had anchovies, cold cuts, boiled beef tongue, spinach, beans, peas, three cups of coffee, I forgot the chicken soup, sherry wine, baked potato, orange sherbet, salad. You see I got it mixed up some in the order I just served it to you, but after a fast I guess the supper got mixed up as she ate and ate and ate.

“Ein Fresser wed nicht geborn, er Wirt Gemacht” sagt Trudel sagt Papa, sie sagt. You see I am pounding the typewrite and talking or reading out loud as I write, so every once in a while she pops up with a bright remark and if I don’t watch out I’ll be writing what she says instead of what I started out to write.

The only reason I am addressing so many of these remarks to you my sisters, and not more to Daddy dear, is that I have not yet received a letter from him, but a letter is not necessary, dear Father, till you get used to the idea of your fourth child. Many a man has been shocked late in life, to discover someone handed him a child he never knew was his. And when the strange voice calls “daddy” it sometimes is too much to answer right away. I only hope your happiness approaches ours. I pray God to make me worthy of the blessed sunshine you all have sent into my life.
With a heart full of love to you Father dear, and fond sisters Lottie and Erna, in which precious Trudel joins,

Affectionately yours,



Posted by on October 31, 1935 in diary, family, immigrant experience, Letters


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November 25, 1935 – A new job, a trip, and more movies.

November 25, 1935  – A new job, a trip, and more movies.

Trudel continues to translate in “diary style.”

Trudel's Workspace at Sully's

Trudel’s Workspace

Hats on Racks at Sully's



I started working for Sophie Sullivan in a little shop in the Seneca Hotel. Part time.

I saw the movie Broadway Melody of 1936 Very nice.



Poster Broadway Melody of 1936

Click for YouTube

Went to a Halloween Party as a witch in a dress made of a potato sack. I Made a big red tam for Leonard and red patches on his white jacket, with a red bandanna as tie and match box as holder.

I Spoke to Alex* on the phone 11/20, Thanks for Jewish paper and marzipan. Since I work on the two jobs I am very tired in the evening.

I saw an excellent move about South Africa Sanders of the River with Paul Robeson.

Robeson in Sanders of the River

Click image to hear Paul Robeson in Sanders of the River

More Robeson from Sanders of the River:
My Little Black Dove
Rallying the Tribes
The Canoe Song
The Complete Film

As you see, Leonard and I are on our way to Wooster Ohio to meet Alex.

Trudel and Alex

Trudel and Alex

Trudel & LJG in Wooster

Visiting in Wooster

*Alex was Trudel’s sister Erna’s fiance’ who was visiting America on business.

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Posted by on November 25, 1935 in diary, family, immigrant experience, Letters, Memoir


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March and April 1936 – I will be glad when the election is over.

March and April 1936  – I  will be glad when the election is over.

Trudel continued to abstract her letters into brief notes so I have consolidated March and April 1936 into one post. [April is below the first movie trailer.]

A fortune teller told me that Papa was not feeling well and should watch his health much more. Right? Leonard is very busy making speeches for Governor Len Small for mayor of Chicago. I will be glad when the election is over.

Easter Sunday 4/12/26
Happy birthday to Erna. [Erna’s birthday was April 25th.]
Leonard with speeches, also on radio, and I with hats, are keeping both of us very busy. I Try to go with him when I can.

Last Friday Rose LaMarque and I saw “The Great Waltz.” Wonderful.

Although Leonard was not elected as a judge, he is still much better off than the other Republican candidate who spent $25,000 and lost too with only ½ as many votes as Leonard, who did not spend 1¢. I am glad it is all over but it was very interesting for me and I learned a lot.

Papa’s letter had been opened by the Germans, by the foreign exchange department.

I Have not moved to the Seneca Hotel with Mrs La Marque yet, but will tell you the advantages I will have:
1. The landlord will not misplace my mail
2. All phone calls and visitors will be told me as soon as I come home
3. Home right after work (in the building)
4. Not so much alone
5. For the same money much bigger room
6. Telephone in the room
7. Private bathroom
8. Much better neighborhood
9. 1st class hotel service
10. Restaurant and grocery store in building
11. Closer to the beach in summer
12. Radio
13. Sewing machine
Etc., etc.

Went to Klemm and Addie Eggner’s wedding last Sunday. Although Leonard was not in the mood for it since his 85 year old Father had died 3 days before in Sumter, he went with me anyhow. He could not go to the funeral since it was the next day and it would have taken 2 days to get there.

I saw best movie ever, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”: serious story; excellent performances.

I have been unable to find any information about the judicial elections in Chicago in 1936. It would appear that there must have been some kind of open primary or Trudel may have combined the primary with the general election in her mind, which would explain how LJG could lose to “his opponent” and his opponent could also lose.


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