Tag Archives: German

November 25, 1934 “His lawyer was very nasty but we had a very nice, understanding Judge.”

November 25, 1934 “His lawyer was very nasty but we had a very nice, understanding Judge.”

Nov 24, 1934

My dears!

Yesterday I received Doddo’s nice letter. Thank you for the photos from your new apartment. It looks very nice.

I am looking forward to some home-baked cookies from you. Here I get nothing home baked and the stuff they sell I do not like very much, which is just as well so I do not gain too much weight.

I have not met anybody who could advise about Lou’s [welding] business. Did he receive the folders I sent from the fair?

And now to a very interesting week

And now to a very interesting week. After I finished my letter in Leonard’s office on Sunday night we did a little more straightening out and then walked home. He lives only about ½ mile from me and always walks me home first.

Monday, as usual I went to work. As usual for lunch I had 2 cups of milk and 2 sweet rolls and in the evening Aunt Henny visited me in my castle. Since I have an unusually big bed she spent the night with me and we slept very well together.

We all four went together to court.

Julius without dark glasses or cane.

Tuesday morning we ate breakfast together and were at 9:30 a.m. in Mr. Grossberg’s, her lawyer’s, office where we met Alfred Hamburger. We all four went together to court. Julius was there already wearing dark glasses and a cane. One week ago his eyes were still perfect. His lawyer was very nasty but we had a very nice, understanding Judge. I could not very well control myself sometimes and laughed with everybody, which as a witness I should not have done maybe.

The only thing the 2 lawyers agreed on was the fact they both wanted me to be heard as a witness. When the judge saw me he said, loud, “A nice looking bone of contention!

After several questions the judge asked me where I learned my English and declared that I spoke better than some of the lawyers. The Judge and I mixed a lot of German into our questions and answers. He is Jewish and from Germany too, close to 70 years old.

I let him know that I did not want to testify against Julius, since after all he had signed the papers for me to come here. Anyway we [Henny] won. Julius is supposed to pay Henny a small amount every week and pay her lawyer.

After court, Henny was herself again.

After leaving the court building Henny was herself again, just like when I first came here. She was so happy it was all over. Mr. Grossberg then took all of us to a very fancy lunch.

Since I had a terrible toothache and the day was ½ done anyhow, Henny took me to a dentist who took an x-ray for 50¢ and pulled the tooth which was very infected.

It was pouring rain and since I was not very careful I have been running around with a swollen cheek for several days from a cold. I have swallowed more aspirin, etc., in the last few days than I have in my whole life. How I was wishing Dr. Samuel was here. Tonight I bought another pain killer which was supposed to be 25¢. I only had 17¢ on me and the druggist let me have it anyhow on my promise to pay him the 8¢ tomorrow.

From a Delicious Dinner to a Drugstore Counter

Lunch Counter

A Walgreens Lunch Counter (1930s)

Anyhow back to Tuesday. Alfred Hamburger took us to a delicious dinner. The next evening I had a date with Gabby’s boyfriend “Hardy” Oberlander. He has been in the USA 8 months already. The first 4 months he spent with his father in N.Y. He has very rich relatives in Chicago. So far he is doing nothing and does not know how long he will stay here.

We went to see a lousy movie and then went for a bite to a drug store. No matter how I describe this I do not think you can picture it. We sit on a high stool at a long bar table and eat or drink–no liquor. That is the way I ate my dinner last night, before I went to visit Aunt Fanny, finally.

Continued Sunday 11/25

Aunt Fanny is a Very Nice Lady

Aunt Fanny is a very nice lady. She sends her very best regards to you. She has 2 daughters and 1 son and 1 adopted child from a sister. Besides she has 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

She of course told me why she and Aunt Jenny are not speaking. But actually I could not care less. Each tells me her side of the story and I am no judge to figure out who is right and who is wrong. Actually I believe Fanny more than Weils. She is more down to earth like we are. I spent a lot of time with her. She had so much to tell me. What she had to go through during the 5 years her husband was sick etc.

Dining Room, LasSalle Hotel

Palm Room, LaSalle Hotel

Unfortunately none of the children were there. One had to stay home because her husband is sick. The other and the son live too far away. We went to visit the 3rd one in her beautiful millinery store just 2 blocks away. Her nephew Alfred Schmidt, son of Kathe, was supposed to come that evening but he had to work late as a waiter in the beautiful La Salle Hotel. She thinks he is a very nice young man. Exactly the opposite was Weils told me. It is too bad when sisters are so unfriendly to each other. It was a real nice evening and now that I know her I hope to see her more often.

They are not rich people but very nice

Slowly I am learning to know my family. They are not rich people but very nice. She asked about everybody. Some I knew and some I have no idea. She only corresponds with Aunt Dortche and not very much.

It is too bad she lives so far from me. It always takes so much time to go from one place to the other. Chicago is sooo big. It’s lucky that it only cost 7¢ from one end to the other.

The Boss and the Night Watchman

That evening my big 75 yr old boss even paid for my carfare. I had to finish some work and was the last one to leave. While I was getting ready to leave I talked to the night watchman and found out he too came from Germany. He told me that the boss, who was leaving at the same time talks German too. He and I got on the same streetcar and had a nice conversation. That makes the trip seem much shorter.

From The Merry Widow to a MidSummer Night’s Dream

Merry Widow

Click for YouTube

Yesterday after stopping at the dentist for a pain killer I went in the middle of the day all alone in a movie “The Merry Widow” with Maurice Chevalier. Excellent of course. Herman Bing, brother of my ex-boss, Gus, had a nice movie part in it too–very funny.

In the evening we met again the portrait painter and [his friend] and we went to see A MidSummer Night’s Dream under the direction of Max Reinhard — excellent — at the Auditorium Theatre.

Auditorium Theater from Chuckan's Collection

Auditorium Theatre

We met another young couple and the 6 of us went to Leonard’s office for a drink. We all were in a real good mood and went together laughing and singing to a little restaurant on State Street for some “Hot Dogs.” Do you know what that is? It’s a Frankfurter sausage inside a soft bun. It is a favorite food here for young and old. With or without ketchup and onions and pickles!

Today I slept almost all day

Today I slept almost all day. As you can imagine I really needed it. Now since 6:00 p.m. we are both working in Leonard’s office. I really wanted to use the typewriter but I think it would take too long. I still write faster by hand. Does by any chance my book on shorthand still exist? Last week I was going to make myself some notes in shorthand but I seem to have forgotten how, completely.

Yesterday I received a card from Ladislaus Justus. I wrote him a postal card 2 months ago. He asked me to write to him real detailed about the past few years. He would like so much to hear from us again. Is it not comical what correspondence I am having? I also heard that Hans Wertheimer who is in Chicago since a very short time. He is staying in one of the most expensive Hotels here. This really has been a hectic week but I think I reported enough to you. Now I do not know anything else to tell you.

Please ask Liss what will happen to the goose for my birthday this year.

Greetings and kisses,
your Trudelchen

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May 11, 1935 – “All afternoon today I was sitting in sunshine on my bed.”

May 11, 1935 – “All afternoon today I was sitting in sunshine on my bed.”

May 11, 1935

My beloved Love Ones!

Often I wish time would not go so fast so I would not have to write you so often.

The cookies, which I received Friday night, were gone by Monday. They were delicious, of course not enough. One half of them we ate already by Friday night at Samuels. I almost thought there would not be any left for me to take home.

What ever happened to mother’s jet dress? I wrote you a couple of times that we could use it very well here.

Slot Machine

I ate so many cookies on Saturday morning that I could not eat any breakfast. At 3:00 pm I finally had some hot chocolate and a little toast. After that I lay on my bed in beautiful sunshine. Later I picked up Leonard for supper.

On the way home we found a different slot machine that we had not seen before. I decided to try my luck for a change and won 55 cents. Of course about 1/3 of it went back into the machine.

Sunday after sleeping late I went to the “south side” for the bris of the newest Samuel baby. The father, Fritz, is the youngest of the 4 Samuel children. Leonard came later with Flora Mae. We ate as usual in the Madison Park Hotel and afterwards saw a movie, “Life begins at 40.”

Life Begins at 40

Click Image for YouTube

On Monday we worked only until 3:00 pm. It was miserable rainy weather so I had nothing better to do than to go to a movie again: “The Night is Young” after a novel by Vicky Baum and playing in Vienna. The main actor was Ramon Navarro and a small part played by Hermann Bing, brother of Gus.

Then I picked up Leonard and we met Louise and Alfred Hamburger. She is giving lectures to new German refugees on American literature. It was really very interesting.

Afterwards we went to the room of a lady in the same hotel and had very interesting conversation. In 10 years Leonard has not heard as much German as that evening.

The Night is Young

Click image to see trailer

Tuesday night I was at Aunt Henny’s. She moved into a nice, quiet hotel for the same amount of money. Wednesday I stayed home, ate dinner with Mrs. Saunders and went to sleep at 9:00 pm.

Do you remember the red sweater I started to make for Ellen? I ripped it all and made it very pretty, all new.

Thursday I ate at Fritz and Bertl Samuel. I am altering a hat for the new mother. Fritz worked in FFM at the “Flôrsheimer Stiftung” [Florsheim Foundation] Addie Eggner worked several years at Sigmund Strauss Jr. and the 3 of us talked about a lot of Frankfurters.

Both young men know Alex from the “Stift” although Fritzis much younger. He and Addie used to go often to Wehrheim to sell goods. Addie sends his best regards to Doddo [Trudel’s sister] and thanks her for the letter. He thinks you really should find time to write to me and described you as a “light blond goyishe girl.” What about that “light blond?”

By the way do you still have so much trouble with your stomach? I found a very cheap easy cure. From all that not so good restaurant food my stomach was in pretty bad shape. Now I drink a cup of very warm water with just a little sugar first thing every morning. At first I did not like it, but now I got used to It and my stomach is fine. After that I eat 3 or 4 cooked prunes with milk or cream.

Frozen Cream on Top

By cream I mean what is on top of the milk in the bottle. One can get milk here only in bottles, homogenized and does not need to be cooked. Just try my prescription for a little while and you will have no need for other medicine. Good Luck! Maybe you will feel so much better that you will write me more often.

Now back to my itinerary. Friday night again I went to the senior Samuels. Tomorrow, Mother’s Day, they will be married 40 years. I gave them a very pretty salad serving set and salt and pepper shakers. When they scolded me for spending my hard earned money I declared that I wanted to give to a mother who deserved something for Mother’s Day. After all she is the “mother” of a bunch of young people. As always, the meal was very, very good. Too bad we live so far away from each other. Maybe it is just as well. If I would eat there too often I would gain a lot of weight.

Mr. Eggener has not found a job yet also. All of us are trying to help him. It is always very hard to find work until one speaks better English.

Today I went downtown early to pay Leonard’s phone bill, then I spent $4 for a collar, cuffs, belt and some flowers to make the blue dress and coat look new.



Since [For] 3 days we were having gorgeous summer weather, but now it is starting to rain.

I am writing this in the office after dinner. Leonard is sound asleep in his chair again. The poor guy did not get home until 4:00 am every night this week and had to be in court at 10:00 am every morning. I do not know how he could do that if he did not sleep here 1 or 2 hours in between sometimes.

I really have to try to get more sleep too. I got a good start on Wednesday. All afternoon today I was sitting in sunshine on my bed and sewed, washed and ironed a little.

Shirley Temple Paper Dolls

Shirley Temple Paper Dolls

We are invited for Mrs. Gray’s birthday on the 22nd. At the same time they are opening their “roof garden” for the summer season. That is when I want to look very nice. I have no idea what I should wear. Hopefully I will have that pullover sweater ready by then. It would look nice with my white linen suit.

Shirly Temple Paper Clothes

When will I receive a photo of Ernst? Did you receive the underwear? Do not forget Erna Grünebaum’s birthday on the 25th. I will send her a Shirley Temple “paper doll” with paper clothes. I hope it arrives safely.

When do I get answers to my letters? I asked weeks ago what was wrong with Steffie O? I am giving up hope that my sisters will answer. At least my dear Papa writes to me now and then. What else is new?

I do not know any more to write.

Love and kisses
Trudel and Leonard

I am trying to learn more about the “Flôrsheimer Stiftung” or “Stift.” Flôrsheim is a city in the mountains near Frankfort. There also appears to have been a Flôrsheim street in Frankfurt. In my research, I discovered Dr. Max Scholl was a chemist who built a business specialzing in the chemical treatment of leather in Flôrsheim. Since Trudel’s sister and her boyfriend were in the leather business, there may have been a connection. Dr. Scholl’s tragic story is told in a series of letters in a 1997 NYTimes article Dear Cousin Julius, We Trust on Our God and on You…’

There does not appear to be any connection to Dr. Scholl’s shoes or to the Florsheim shoe company which was founded in Chicago in 1892.


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August 31, 1935 – “Catch it before he sees it.”

August 31, 1935 –  “Catch it before he sees it.”

Trudel continues translating her letters in “diary style.” This post consolodates her entries for August 14 and 17 with the rest of the month.



Will Rogers Dies

Will Rogers died in an airplane accident in Alaska.

Somebody jumped from the 20th floor of the next building. Glad I did not see it.

Oil for the lamps of China

Oil for the Lamps of China

Nothing special, only movie: “Oil for the Lamps of China.” Excellent.

Letter to Erna to let her know that I mailed a record to Papa for his birthday and to ask Liss to catch it before he sees it.*

*With that single line Trudel only hints at a family legend. According to newspaper stories published much later, the record she sent was very special. She wanted to surprise her father with news of her engagement. One paper said,

In the phonograph recording room at Lyon & Healy’s store, one day . . . Leonard J. Grossman, former alderman of the Fifth Ward, asked a father 3,000 miles away for the hand of his daughter. Into the recording apparatus he spoke of his love. And the daughter declared that she would be happy if she could marry him.
The record was mailed to the father, Adolph Adler, former member of the German stock exchange, in Frankfort-on-the Main, Germany.


Wooed by Phonograph

What the newspaper didn’t say, at least according to the story as I heard it many times, was that my father spoke in German on the record and Trudel spoke in English. It also didn’t describe my grandfather’s amazement and excitement when he listened to the record. Over and over again.


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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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December 17, 1936 A love letter from Trudel’s husband to her family.

December 17, 1936  A love letter from Trudel’s husband to her family.

Letter typewritten on Leonard’s letterhead

Dec. 17th, 1936

Lieber Papa, Doddo and Erna:

Wir haben es gethan! Wir sind Verheiratet, but it is so much more natural for me to love and cherish my Adored Trudel and tell you what I think of the Adler* under the American Eagle, in English. I am a lucky fellow, and all my friends join in approving of my precious Trudel.


My Dear Father . . . .

What is so rare as a perfect Love? Not a gilded lily or a crimson rose with thorns, but a Violet, modest forget-me-not of the Garden of Life, with blushing sweetness and poise, eyes dancing with a new light as we were pronounced man and wife, this is a word picture of OUR Trudel for she belongs to me now, tho before Dec. 5 she was yours not mine.

Radiant, gorgeous, lovely Trudel, on our wedding day told me her thoughts were with you, as mine were, and both our thoughts were with our Angel Mothers, May God rest their souls in peace. I know my own Mother would love Trudel for her fine wholesome qualities.

Mother’s sister writes to my own sister beautifully about Trudel after a visit with her, and my darling baby sister, years older than Trudel, is already in love with Trudel tho they have never met, but we are invited to make the trip, down to Sumter South Carolina when and if we can get away, to visit my sister and her lovely family.

For a long time we have looked forward to the day. We could not until conditions got better, take the step, we thought. How foolish. Everything is better from the moment we got married. The world loves a lover, and we are loved by some good friends, and they all think I am to be congratulated on my beautiful and wonderful bride. So may I thank you, dear Papa, who gave her to me, and you dear sisters, for the newest happiness in my life, and my greatest love – Trudel.


With Love to you all, Leonard

“Adler” means “eagle” in English.


Posted by on December 17, 1936 in Chicago, family, immigrant experience, Letters


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