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Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

Welcome to the World of Trudel Adler

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

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

Trudel as in Strudel

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

Now in Chronological Order

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

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


Here is a link to the most recent post:

  • September 7, 1937 – The Last Letter.
  • Trudel on the ship

    Trudel on the S.S. Manhattan, May 1934

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

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

    New York. May 17, 1934.

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

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

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

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

    A partner for the smallest man


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

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

    Friends on Deck


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Smallest Man

    The Smallest Man on the Boat and our Chief Steward


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

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

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

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

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

    Heartiest greeting and kisses,

    Trudel


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

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    May 24, 1934 New York “You can get used to a lot of things.”

    May 24, 1934 New York “You can get used to a lot of things.”


    [Editor’s note: This letter was begun on 5/24/1934, written over several days and finished on May 26.]

    5/24/34.
    My beloved dear ones.

    I am continuing my last letter now and try to tell things in order. Kurt Brand picked me up Sunday at 3:00 p.m. We went down Broadway and we met on the street his aunt we intended to visit. We walked together for a while and had nice conversation, then Kurt and I went to see a movie. That is the main entertainment here. All times of the day. Movies. Then we went on the top of a double decker bus, front seats, partly downtown. He showed me the new big railroad station and we went for an excellent dinner. He was very nice and even bought me some flowers. Of course we had a lot of fun talking about old memories.

    Later we went to Heinsheimers because Rudy’s birthday was the next day. There were a few more young people and we had a very nice time until we went home at 11:30.

    On Monday morning as I told you already, Ludwig went with me to the Bus Co., then to his place of business. I needed some things from my suitcase. He wanted to take me to the subway station but I begged him to let me go alone to see if I could find my way home alone. Well, I did but he called to make sure I got there o.k.

    In the afternoon Gustl and I visited relatives for coffee. In the evening Kurt Dillenberg picked me up and we took the streetcar part of the way into downtown, so I had a chance to see it all with the lights on. The nicest is around Times Square with one movie house next to the other and each trying to outdo the other with light advertising.

    TimeSquareatNight1940-1

    Times Square at Night (a few years later)

    We looked at the indoor swimming pool in the Park Central Hotel and walked around Central Park, which is unbelievable. Big tall rocks, a gigantic pool where one can rent a rowboat anytime and all around the park are illuminated skyscrapers. One really does not expect such a nature place in the middle of these large and many buildings.

    We had a strawberry soda. That stuff is delicious. You go into any so called drugstore and sit on a barstool to be served. You can get used to a lot of things. It was really a pleasant evening again.

    On Tuesday I met two of our 3rd or 4th cousins. We took the subway to Coney Island. Do you know where that is? Did you get my postal card from there? I will try to explain. Imagine a long beach along the ocean. On the one side you see only nice white soft sand and the water. On the other side of the boardwalk are bathhouses, children’s playgrounds, ping pong and tennis courts and restplaces for grownups, sports utensils, fenced in swimming pools etc. that goes on for miles. One can wear slacks all day which of course I like but it takes too long to get there without a car.

    Coney Island at Night


    Behind the buildings and pools etc. is a gigantic amusement park with different merry-go-rounds, several ferris wheels. Sadie and I went on one of the big, fast wild rides. All in all about 20x as big as what I have ever seen. Most of the places do not open until next Sunday and will close Sept. 15th. After walking along the boardwalk for about 1 hr. we stopped to eat and I wrote a few cards. Then we walked back again, stopped for ice cream and took the subway to Sadie’s home. The weather was really strange that day. Very hot in the morning. Turning very cold and in the evening thunderstorm and continued rain.

    At dinner I met another one of those cousins. Before we left in the morning, Ernst Kahn visited me. He likes it very much here too but has not found work yet.

    Yesterday morning we were on the Manhattan to see off friends who were going to Germany for a visit. One steward greeted me very nicely. He wanted to know if I was going back with them. All the others were too busy. I also met one of our passengers again.

    I have taken a lot of photos already but do not like the way they develop and print them here. If they do no better in Chicago I will send the films to you in the future to have them processed.

    From the boat we went shopping for my dress. This was very interesting. The company has two stores, an old one and a new one. We first went to the old one but did not find anything. The new store is just like a large store room. All clothes are on hangers all around sorted by sizes and you pick out what you think you might like, take 4 or 5 over your arm into a dressing room. What you don’t like you put aside right away. On the ones you might want to buy you have to keep an eye so nobody grabs it to try it on too. I wrote you already that the one I picked is very becoming.

    This job took 1½ hrs. and we were glad when we got home finally. Then after doing a little alteration on the dress we went to buy the shoes.

    The big distances here take a lot of time and it is not surprising that the Americans are always in a hurry. I doubt that I can get in touch with all the people here I had planned to call, actually I know that I will not have time enouugh here in N.Y.

    Last night as I told you already I had dinner at Mrs. Brown–tonight at Kurt Brand. Tomorrow morning I have to get my trunk ready. Saturday nite my old table partner Rudy Heinzheimer wants to take me out very fancy. Sunday afternoon I have a date with Kurt Dillenberg. This morning I talked to my tablemate from the boat on the phone. We are trying to make some date for Sunday.

    Tomorrow night I want to go to Temple Emanuel for Services. It is the biggest synagogue here and supposed to be very beautiful. Last night we had a ball trying on hats. I have inherited several already.

    They are all so very nice to me. Gustl thinks I might even like it better in Chicago than in N.Y. But I can’t believe that.

    Coney Island

    Coney Island Post Card

    Something is wrong with me today but I do not know what. I did get up at 8:30 but have no ambition to do anything. I would have so much time today to visit some people but just can’t make up my mind to do anything. It is already 12:30 p.m. and I am still sitting here in my housecoat and slippers at the desk next to my bed overlooking the River.

    Love,
    Trudel


    Editor’s Note: As Trudel mentioned, she didn’t like the film processing here, which may explain why there were only the tiny thumbnails I posted with the previous letter[literally the size of the nail on my thumb] in her album. I have added a few period photos to these posts.]

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    June 30, 1934 “Fortunately I can see every thing as funny . . .”

    June 30, 1934 “Fortunately I can see every thing as funny . . .”

    June 30, 1934

    This is an extra personal letter. Do not show to everybody.*

    Well, Aunt Henny has had the same [medical condition] as our Mother, only they found it before her stomach was affected. She has no trouble at all now but is very nervous.

    But he [Trudel’s uncle, Julius] has a lot to do with that. He cannot get along with anybody. Not his own brothers and sister. So last year Henny just walked out on him. He tried hard to make her come back but she refused.

    Since they were not divorced she needed his signature to send me the papers. So she went to his office and promised him to go back to him if he signed those papers. He naturally was very willing to do that. So now I am guilty that the 2 are living together again after 1 yr separation.

    And how are they living? His bed is in the kitchen, hers and mine are in the so called “good room”. In the 3rd room lives a friend of his. The only person he gets really along with.

    Trudel with uncle

    Uncle Julius with Trudel

    This Mr. Miller is married and his wife and 4 children live in San Francisco. His wife is here now for a few days visit.

    Can you imagine this household. Julius is very fond of Henny but also very jealous. Anyway they are always fighting and neither one will give in. To me it really seems funny.

    [Comment: My parents never had an argument in front of us girls. If they had any differences of opinions they discussed it behind closed doors. So this fighting was actually miserable for me–of course the main thing is they both are very nice to me.]

    There is no use my looking for work right now. Maybe I can do something at the Fair.

    Unfortunately we talk only German here at home. Julius hates everything else even U.S.A. He only loves Germany even now. He has all kinds of funny ideas.

    Henny

    Aunt Henny

    Actually I had thought Henny to be much neater, cleaner and orderlier. What a difference between her and the wonderful people in N.Y.

    Please do not let anybody know about this. I would be very embarrassed if it came back to them. I am very happy and do not give a darn. Fortunately I can see every thing as funny and hope to continue that way. Just in case I should not like it here I know I will always be welcome to go back to N.Y. Actually Aunt Henny and I get along very well–so far.

    So this closes that special report.

    Love,
    Trudel


    * My brother, Ray, Trudel’s other son, and I, discussed whether to include this letter. Because neither Henny or Julius is still alive and they did not have any survivors, so far as we know, we felt it would not be inappropriate to include this important part of her story. Len, one of Trudel’s sons.

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