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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 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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June 12th, 1934 – “Do you notice in what good humor I am in today?”

June 12th, 1934 – “Do you notice in what good humor I am in today?”

June 12th, 34
1460 E. 57th St.

Oh my beloved dear ones!

I have written today already 5 letters and 2 postal cards. Now I can wait before writing once more. As I expected, Martin Seckbach did not appear on Saturday, although we stayed home all day waiting for him.

Between 10-11 p.m. Auntie and I sat in the park nearby to get just a little fresh air. On Sunday as planned we went to the picnic of the German choirs.

After traveling 1½ hrs on the L and ½ hour marching we finally landed at a beautiful big park at the German Altenheim. There were long tables with benches and we picked a nice shady place to sit and eat our lunch we had brought along.

Beer Garden

German Beer Garden at the Bismark Hotel

I was really in a gay mood and drank more than I have in a long time – 7 small glasses of beer and 2 hard liquor. I was dancing all the time when not eating.

There was only 1 more Jewish person there. The president of one of those choirs. We spent quite a lot of time walking together Auntie, he and I. He is a very nice guy, 62 yrs old which he does not look, spends a lot of money. The only fault I could find is the fact that he does not dance, but there were plenty others who liked to dance like I do.

Since I was a newcomer I was very popular but people sure have a lot of nerve here, and you cannot be insulted by what they say. I even went on a merry go round. About 10:00 p.m., the wife and 29 yr old son of this Mr. Max Hirsch came to pick him up. The son does not like to dance but did it just for me. He insisted on talking English with me and claimed he understood everything I said.

We made a date for next Saturday. It is a dance from his father’s club and although he does not care about those clubs he will go because I said I was going. Do you notice in what good humor I am today? But that has another reason.

Yesterday morning I spent one hour with Gus Bing, Uncle’s nephew and partner in the very elegant ladies hat factory, Budwig, Inc. The result was that

  1. I will start working there at the beginning of July, 5 days a week for $14.
  2. He gave me a very nice wooden hat block for nothing and a very pretty navy blue taffeta hat.
  3. He will be a delightful boss with loads of money, divorced with 2 children and 40 yrs old.

Trudel working with hat on block (1936?)

I sure hope it all works out o.k., that I know enough and work quick enough.

He was extremely nice. His father was on the Frankfurt opera. He is a real Frankfurter boy.*

From there we went shopping. I got myself a nice suit for $5 not the linen suit I saw last week. I am sorry I did not bring more jewelry, china etc along. You can get very much money for those things here.

My things I have not unpacked yet. Auntie wants to look at it with me to see what I should sell.

We were yesterday in the Italian neighborhood in a store where they buy all those things for good money. I was amazed how much they pay for things. Of course they sell it for double.

Have you ever heard of “Maxwell St.?” We were there too yesterday. It is the Jewish part of Chicago. There is one little shop next to the other, displays and table on the sidewalk and in the middle of the street. Like a big market. Very crowded. One can buy everything there. Shoe laces, fruit, stoves, meat, sausage. You name it, you can buy it there reasonably if you can argue about the price. It is a real mad house. We finally took the streetcar home.

Chicago Street Car

Chicago Street Car (from Chuckman's Collection)

We past by the neighborhood where there was a big fire recently and it was a heartbreaking sight. The homes are built so poorly like cardboard. No wonder they burnt so fast.

Well I am getting a cramp in my hand from writing so much today. It is now 4:00 p.m. and I have been writing since 11:00 a.m. My stomach too is telling me it’s time to stop soon.

Maxwell Street

Actually this is the first day I have stayed home. It is so hot and I did not feel like running around. Tonight we are going to the only brother of Uncle with whom he is still on talking terms. I hope to go to the synagogue before long. Last night we could not go and this morning we did not know where there would be a minyan here in the neighborhood.

I also wrote a long letter to Rabbi Salzberger today. Do you, Pappa talk to him sometimes? Tomorrow night we will go to friends. What is new with you? I will not write again until I get some mail from you Lazy Bones. Have you found an apt? Let me hear some news.

Love and Kisses.


*”A Frankfurter boy” means he is from Frankfurt.
Some photos on this page from other sources including CHUCKMAN’S COLLECTION



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June 25, 1934 “Forgive any mistakes I make in my writing. English I do not know yet and German I am forgetting.”

June 25, 1934 “Forgive any mistakes I make in my writing. English I do not know yet and German I am forgetting.”

June 25, 1934. Monday 11:00 a.m.

Dearest Papa, Doddo and Erna,*

Received your nice letter today. Sorry I did not write for more than 1 week but I was really busy and I ask you to forgive any mistakes I make in my writing. English I do not know yet and German I am forgetting. Now I am trying to remember what I have not answered yet.

Three Sisters

Trudel, Erna and Lotte in 1932

The [Greyhound] buses are very similar as at home. The seats are upholstered, leather covered and adjustable. Each armrest is always covered with a fresh white cloth. There are 2 seats on each side of the bus and between a narrow gangway with an emergency seat to fold down. Enough for about 40 passengers. No drinking water but stops every 2 hrs. Either real short just for passengers getting off and on or at mealtimes about 25 min.

The chauffeurs are all very reliable, decent and polite. Martin Seekbach whom I still have not met is such a chauffeur. When he does come we are not home and when we wait for him he does not show up.

Right now I am listening on the radio the Mozart minuette to which Erma and I used to like to dance. Remember? Anyhow the music on the radio is beautiful. Good thing music is international.

Trudel's father, Adolf Adler

Now back to the letters. The red jacket I wore 3 times on the boat. I will not wear it here until winter again. I am remembering [numbering?] my letters to make sure you receive them all.

Marion Hamburger is 19 and Bernice 18 yrs old. The difference in age does not seem to matter here. Often the mother looks younger than the daughter.

I will try to find some interesting catalogues for Lou at the Fair. So far I have not seen anything. Why does Papa never send me a kiss too? Have I answered your questions?

Now I can continue my story. Monday Henny and I went to Leo Joseph, brother of Beatrice Wolfgang. They look very much alike, not as heavy but just as friendly. Since Beatrice had given me only his business address but not the name of the firm we had trouble finding him. But we made it. He is located on the west side where they had such a big fire recently. You probably read about it. He asked me to call his 29 yr old second wife but I have not been able to reach her so far. They live not far from here. He had us driven home in his car and we went through that whole burnt out vicinity.

Fire at Stockyards

Fire at the Chicago Stockyards on the West Side, on May 27, 1934.

In the evening I was home alone for the first time. Uncle and Aunt went singing. I took a little walk along the beach and when I wanted to go home at 8:30 I met the Lindeimer family who were on the ship with me. They live real close to us. I went home with them and met their 25 yr old daughter and a young man from FFM [Frankfurt]. I forget his name. Did not stay long.

Tuesday I sat with Edith Grossberg in the sun at the beach for an hour and roasted. When the weather is nice I cannot go swimming and when I can it either is raining or too cold. That is Chicago weather, I will not talk about it.

In the afternoon I went to Rose Seckbach. There were several German girls including a 19 yr old from FfM but we did not know each other. I stayed for dinner (supper) and afterwards with Rose’s brother, Hans, to the Fair.

First we went to a beautiful concert outside at the Ford Symphony Gardens. They play everyday from 3 to 5 and from 8-10 p.m. for no extra admission. Then we went through some of the exhibits. Sat in the newest model Chrysler. Then we went to the amusement park. He does not care for those rides so we only watched some of them. We ended up in the Canadian Club Cafe’, direct in the lake.

Night time concert at the Ford Symphony Gardens

Picture this — The Fair itself is on the beach. The amusement park on an island connected with the land with 3 bridges. This restaurant is on one of the bridges and you sit right by the water and all around are those beautifully illuminated buildings. My cavalier is an excellent dancer. There is a very good dance orchestra and also shows: dancing, acrobats, singing etc. Some of it really wonderful. One woman dancer is completely naked but painted with black laquer all over. Really interesting.

We did not get home until 1:30 a.m. and I spent the night at Rose and Mack’s home. Hans and his father live there too. Rose told me the next morning that it has been years since her brother stayed out after midnight in the middle of the week. When he comes home from work he will probably complain how tired he is and will go to bed at 8:00 p.m. But believe it or not that did not happen. We went out together again that night. We went to a very dressy Jewish hall in one of the best hotels here on the south side.

Aerial view of World's Fair

Aerial View of the Fair

I met a few nice people and probably lost a few pounds it was so hot. I never sweated that much even with hot pad, aspirin and 3 blankets although I was dressed as light as possible. As we came home at midnight it started pouring. He is very nice but can you see me with a man with a mustache. He is close to 30 and has together with 2 brothers a very good business and the thing I like best is the fact he takes me to real nice places.

On Thursday his father, my Opa took me downtown where I had a date with Herbert Pohl. Although we did not know each other we did find each other and the 3 of us went to lunch together. I like Pohl very much and we had a very nice time together.

Unfortunately he travels a lot and spends very little time in Chicagio Opa gave him his phone number so he can get in touch when he is in town again. We have no phone as yet.

Afterwards I met Edith Grossberg and her parents and we went to the movies after [based on?] a German book together. I went home with them for dinner and early home. Mr. Grossberg is a big lawyer and very nice like his wife and daughter.

On Friday it was so cold that I wore a warm suit. In the afternoon we were downtown and in the evening Uncle and I went to a German movie on the north side. Henny had to sing somewhere around there and after eating together we separated. Saturday morning I picked up Mr. and Mrs. Lindheimer and we went together to the synagogue and afterwards ran into Opa, who had made some visits in the neighborhood and was on his way home. Instead he went with us to visit several other refugees. Some were busy and others took time to visit. Opa took me for lunch. Henny had to go downtown to arrange about work at the Fair.

Al Jolson

Wonder Bar

After changing clothes because it was so hot we went again to a movie, Wonder Bar, with Al Jolson, It was the first American movie I really liked. While Uncle got cleaned, shaved etc., for the weekend and Opa kept me company, I received a telegram from his son Hans — the best way to communicate when you have no phone.

[to be continued]

*“Doddo” is the nickname for Trudel’s sister Lotte. Erna was her other sister.


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August 26th, 1934 “I earn what I need and use what I earn and let God worry about the rest.”

August 26th, 1934 “I earn what I need and use what I earn and let God worry about the rest.”

Aug 26th, 1934

Please excuse me for writing with pencil today. My fountain pen is empty and I have no ink here.

So, My dears,

Yesterday I received Papa’s nice letter of 8/10. You ladies must be awfully busy. Did Lu receive something for his birthday from me?

Dear Papa, You want to know how much life in Chicago costs? Well for me it is cheap. I earn what I need and use what I earn and let God worry about the rest. As long as I have always nice new things to tell you about.

This last week I had a lot of nice things going again. On Saturday I was at a big doing of the Chicago Tribune at Soldier’s Field. By the way that is the place where Piccard took off with his balloon last year.*

This year was a Music Fest,–about 120 000 people–Al Jolson in person sang Sonny Boy, and some songs from the Jazz Singer and a few Folk songs. He was really great.

Soldier Field - 1934

An Opera star from N.Y. also sang several songs then there was a chorus of about 1000 black voices and another one of about 2000 white people. A very big group of children in different colored clothes danced and formed like a big butterfly with a wonderful orchestra. Then 11 conductors spread out over the middle and directed the whole crowd in 3 American songs. What an experience! At the end a display of terrific fireworks.

–Hope you received my postal card from a very fun boat trip with my young people’s group, to a nearby town along the lake. I spent most of my time with the Grossbergs. I had to talk English again all day. When I do not understand something I must look like a nut.

The Roosevelt

Trip to St. Joseph, across the Lake

Have you found an apartment yet. We were playing movers again yesterday. We re-arranged everything and the apartment looks much nicer now.

I had an unusual experience. I did have a date with my Vienna Friend at the Fair but was very tired and tried to think all morning of a way to cancel it. At lunch time Gus gave me a note with a phone number I should call between 5 and 6. He said it was somebody with a heavy accent and of course I thought it was that Charlie and I could cancel our date gracefully.

Well, when I called I could barely make out who it was. But we made a date for the next evening. It turned out he got the name from an Aunt, Mrs. Vogel, but no address or phone number. Well, he was together with some people on Sunday and one of them mentioned my name, and she only knew where I am working. So he found me.

Poster from Sadie McKee with Joan Crawford

Poster from Sadie McKee

He is here 10 yrs already, lives with other fellows, drives a beautiful new car with radio etc. Apparently he earns very much money. He expects to call you in about 3 months when he will be in Ffm. [Frankfurt] His brother is Dr. Isaaks a skin specialist in Ffm. His father died about 6 weeks ago.

We spent a very nice evening at the Fair. Wednesday I was with Charlie, with whom I called off the date on Monday, in a movie again. “Sadie McKee”.

Thursday I met the Weils at the Fair. As many naked women as you can see one night at the Fair you probably cannot see in all Germany in a week on the stage. Most of them are excellent dancers and acrobats. But some of them do only strip teasing.

Katherine Dunham Dancers

Katherine Dunham Dancers

Dancers at the World Fair

Dancers at the World Fair

One of the dancers sat with us for a while. Also a little girl who had performed 3x that day was with us. Eugenie played for them at their rehearsals. She never plays for performing only at rehearsals.

We were 9 women together. On the way home it rained so hard I was wet to the skin when I came home, otherwise it was very nice.
For the first time I saw Siamese twins that evening. They are guests at the Chicago Theater this week and were in the same restaurant with us. Last night I was again at a movie “Hollywood Party” [with Laurel and Hardy] and today with Aunt Henny to see “Change of Heart.”

Hollywood Party Poster

Hollywood Party

Change of Heart

Change of Heart

Aunt Henny is taking off from the Fair a little and we had a real relaxing Sunday. Sleeping, eating, manicure, pedicure, shampoo, etc. Then dinner in my friend Harry Erlich’s restaurant and now I am so tired that we will soon fall into our beds.

Please ask Gustav Simon if he remembers whether Julius M. Seckbach either fell on his head or was bathed in water that was too hot when he was young or may be better do not ask him.

Frieda Seckbach Bing, my boss’s mother Julius’s sister is supposed to be very nice. Did you give my letters to Ernst Gloschmidt to read? He wants to come here too. I have so little time to write once I get thru with the megillahs to you.

How would Doddo like to make some butter cookies for me family style. It would be very much appreciated. When I talk German I use a lot of Frankfurterisch. I don’t think I will ever forget that.

Next week I will have to see where and how to get a ticket for yontiff at the Synagogue. They are celebrating only one day Rosh Hashanah at that Synagogue I go to.

What I can I wish for you for the coming New Year? Hopefully you will feel as happy and content as I do. Also I do have little money I manage and do not worry about it and am satisfied and that is what I wish you too. Please do not envy me. Many people would not be happy in my situation but I make the best of it. Think of me on the holidays. I surely will think of you as I do always anyhow. Thank G’d I have Papa’s lucky, happy nature.

L’Shono Taovo Tikosevu and good night!

Love and kisses,


Comment – probably written when Trudel was translating the letters: I am sure my parents had different opinions at times but I do not remember ever hearing a [harsh] word between them. If they had a disagreement they discussed it behind closed doors. Julius and Henny are always quarreling and accusing each other of all kinds of things and right in front of me which is very upsetting to me. I am never involved in their arguments they were both always very nice and cordial to me, but I could not stand it and I never butted in. As I said in the beginning I did not want Papa to worry–so I never wrote about it.

*Actually it was Lt. Cmdr. Thomas (Tex) G. W. Settle who took off with his balloon . Piccard stayed on the ground.

Wikipedia article about attempted “stratosphere” balloon flight at Soldier Field in 1933.

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