Tag Archives: ladies hats

June 5, 1934 “Feeding Ice Cubes to the Chickens”

June 5, 1934 “Feeding Ice Cubes to the Chickens”

June 5th, 1934

Dear ones,

You can get here so many things that we did not have at home or they were much, much too expensive. But I also miss some things. For instance malt bonbons, peppermint tea, good chocolate candies, and bakery goods.

It is now Tuesday–11:15 p.m. On Sunday we took a 4 hr. bus ride. Our apartment is on the south east side of Chicago and the cemetery is N.W. so I could see a big part of this big city.

Hyde Park Boulevard

We sat on the top of the 2 decker bus so I could see more on that 2 hr. trip each way. We went along the lake on Michigan Ave, the best and the most expensive shopping area, along the Gold Coast where all the millionaires live and then across the city to the cemetery, then we walked for about ½ hr. west almost to the end of the city. It is hard to imagine the tremendous size of Chicago.

We ate in a German restaurant. There are many Germans here. Yesterday morning I finally made acquaintance with Lake Michigan, at 10:00 a.m. I jumped into the nice cool wonderful water. The only trouble is the cover of soot on top and you feel dirtier when you come out and feels dirtier than when you go in. Also the sand on the beach is very dirty.

Trudel in the Park

Anyway the whole city is rather dirty and the people are very sloppy — not neat at all. There are beautiful parks all around and people sitting and laying on them throw papers and bottles all around. No matter where.

Actually I like Chicago as a City much better than N.Y. It is not so much stores and has those beautiful parks but is much, much more stretched out. Also life seems to be much slower and more at ease.

Pigeons in the Park

Just think of it. I am wearing slacks all day. Even on the street and shopping. Except when I am going downtown. When we went swimming I wore on the way my bathing suit, swim shoes and a short rubber cape. No cap. My comb I took in my hand, and walked home the same way but wet.

Of course I took a shower to get rid of the dirt. Aunt Henny only wore a bathing suit, white shoes and a cape she had made from the brown silk raincoat from 10 yrs. ago.

The rest of the day we sewed, washed, and ironed. I received some clothes in N.Y. including a nice multicolor evening dress which I have to alter a little, Earnale? [Erna is Trudel’s other sister.] Do you need your black one that you loaned me for my trip? I certainly will not use it this summer. But it was perfect for the voyage.

Last night I went with Aunty to her German Singing club. I had to bite my lips not to laugh out loud. It seemed very funny and strange to me. About 4 old women as old and ugly as can be. All German of course. Aunty H. is only Jewish member. I was very nicely received with applause. Afterwards we picked up Uncle at his Gesang Verein and the very friendly and intelligent conductor [of the singers] drove us home in his car.

It is really funny that everybody asks me just about the same questions. First, how do you like it here? Next: How is your father Adolf? It seems all the people I meet know him and want to hear about him and his family and friends.

There are several relatives here but some of them seem to be proches. I do not know why. This afternoon I was downtown with Aunty. We went by streetcar as far as the building made of chewing gum, the Wrigley Bldg. It is all white, very tall, clean and illuminated at night, and really stands out very much against all those other dark skyscrapers.

Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building

We went first to a wholesale hat manufacturer.* One of the two owners is a nephew of Uncle. Unfortunately he was not in, but his partner talked to me and promised to see if they can use me. Aunty does not want me to start working before July 1st. Also I am pretty tired. But I would very much like to start tomorrow.

I hope to get used to Chicago air.

Maxwell Street - One source of Fresh Fruit

[Comment (apparently inserted during translation): It turned out that Mr. & Mrs. Seckbach expected me to be their housekeeper: cooking, washing, ironing etc. But that was absolutely out. — O.K. Back to letter.”]

Next we visited Alice Weil in the Post Office. She was like everybody — very nice — and we made a date for tomorrow evening. Then we visited a sister-in-law of Uncle. He is not on friendly terms with her as apparently with a lot of people. He has a son Martin I have not met yet.

Next the Boston Store, a very large dept. store. The buyer in the fur department was the first lady with whom Auntie made friends when she came here 19 yrs. ago. A very nice lady who she made a date with me for lunch one day next week and introduced me also to the buyer of the ladies hat department, who will do his best in my behalf. Sure hope something will work out soon.

Department Stores and "car elevator"

After that we did a little shopping and then thru Marshall Fields the biggest, dept. store in the world. After picking up Uncle in his office we stopped to buy groceries for the next couple of days before going home.

Uncle is one of the strangest persons I ever met. He seems to earn good money but is as stingy as can be as I have never met anybody before. Auntie seems to know just how to get along with him, also no matter what she says he insists on the opposite. And G’d forbid if one contradicts him. Then he will start talking about it 50 times again. Otherwise he is o.k. when he is left alone.

I get along with him very well so far — also he is not on speaking terms with all his relatives but he seems to like me. It is a good thing he can’t see how I laugh about him behind his back. Last week the 2 had an argument and the next day he brought her a pretty dress from downtown. Apparently he is very fond of her.

Downtown Chicago

He is quite egotistical and can’t stand it if she talks friendly to someone else, and she cannot visit anybody. She wishes I would not got to work at all but keep her company all the time. She is really very good to me. There is not a lot of work here in the apt. except for the dirty soot that comes thru the windows. 5 min. after cleaning the window sills are black again.

Today I had a letter from Gustl. Willy Bloeser called just as I was leaving. She gave him my Chicago phone number and address. When I look around the room here I see all my dear ones several times around the walls. There are even 4 photos of myself. It is now already 12:30 and we have a lot planned for tomorrow. Is it very warm in Frankfurt? It was 90 degrees here today. I do sweat a lot and hopefully will lose some weight.

Aunt Henny

Trudel's Aunt Henny

Loads of love & kisses from your very happy Runaway.


P.S. It is so hot here that they are feeding the chickens ice cubes so they won’t lay boiled eggs!!

*Trudel was trained in millinery [hat making] in Germany.


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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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July 10, 1934. “You probably notice that almost everything here is described as biggest and best.”

July 10, 1934. “You probably notice that almost everything here is described as biggest and best.”

July 10th

My very dear Goldchildren!

So tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock I shall start [work]. It’s high time my life would get on a schedule again. Just please hold your thumbs that I know enough and they keep me.

Thank Doddo for that very long detailed letter. You must be awfully busy to find time to write such a long letter. I really appreciate it. That letter was the first one that was officially opened. Thanks also for the photos.

When I showed Julius that nice portrait of myself he did not want to give it back to me, but would have liked to hang it in his office. Can you beat that.

I wonder if I ever get around to putting my photos in an album. Thanks too for the address from Miss Samuels. I will try to call her next week. Please add my best wishes to all weddings, engagements, birthdays etc.

I still have not found any catalogues for Lu.

Also I have been at the Worlds Fair 8 times. I always help Henny a little and for that I get a pass for nothing and can go there anytime.

Too bad Lou did not exhibit here, I am sure he could have made a Lot of money. That man from Dusseldorf is very busy with his line of cookware. Last Friday I had a date with him but have already enough of him.

Sky Ride

Sky Ride

On Thursday I finally met my Cousin Martin Seckbach. I knew he would be in town and I went to the house, owned by the Bus Co., where he lives. When the 2nd Greyhound bus came with 2 chauffers I talked to 1 and it was the right fellow. He sent somebody to keep me company until he came ½ hr later and we went together to the Fair. He is quite nice, has a pass for admission too and even does not have to pay for most of the rides in the amusement park. First we went on the skyride. Great.

After visiting Henny we had a very good Chinese supper and met there a friend of his so we then went around 3 of us together. Then on a big Loop de Loop or what you call it. Then on a giant Ferris Wheel. We also had to go on a real enormous slide and could not leave without a boat ride all around the exhibit. And then a ride I had never heard of–Fying Turns. You get into 1 of those little boxes and that thing races around like mad. Up and down and twirling around itself. It’s hard to describe but I enjoyed it so much that we did it twice.

Flying Turns

Flying Turns

We made another date for last night but he never showed up although I waited from 7-10 p.m. for him. Now he can wait a long time before I make another date with him although I had enjoyed that evening with him very much.

He even had invited me to go with him by bus to Lima, Ohio and then back with his own car for 3 to 4 days to visit his brother who lives with his girlfriend and family there. Nobody knows if they are married or not. Also Aunt Henny gave me permission to go with him, I declined with thanks.


Interior of Marshall Fields

If you have any China figures you do not think you want to keep anymore send them to me. We have already customers for that junk. I gave myself a special treat today. I walked for 1½ hrs around Marshall Fields the biggest dept. store in the world. I never saw so many beautiful things together in every dept. It is almost like a museum.

Have you found a new apt. yet? Where, How and What?

Have not heard from any of my boat companions anymore.

My wristwatch is broken and not worth fixing. Uncle gave me one of his. Aunt Henny gave me a wristband to go with it.

Marshall Fields

Marshall Fields

I am very happy with my down comforter. They are awfully expensive here. Well, as mentioned before we are living in a so called 3 room apt. on the 2nd floor above a tavern and a grocery store and the rent is $25 a week, including electric, gas and heat. The curly hairdos are out of style already. I haven’t had my hair cut since I left home.

If the movie 20 Million Sweethearts should come you will hear the melody which at this time is driving me nuts. You hear it all the time and everywhere.

I surely would appreciate come butter cookies. The Sal-Ammonia pills helped Henny get over a very bad sore throat and she too thanks you very much.

Swift Bridge

Concert at the Swift Bridge

Last Wednesday and Saturday spent most of my time at the Fair. Mostly I sit on the Swift Bridge and listen to beautiful concerts. The bridge belongs to the biggest parking company. And the free concerts are by the biggest and best orchestra. You probably notice that almost everything here is described as biggest and best.

Sunday I was again with Uncle and Opa at a German affair [comment I really hated those affairs since I was trying to get away from everything German. They could not understand that.] It was called A Day in Heidelberg, a picnic at a very large amusement park 1½ hr ride on the streetcar each way. Next week I am going to refuse.

Today I bought a 3 piece knit suit at Hans’s factory for $2 and he took me out for lunch.

Sure wish you could see me at the fair. The red dress I bought in N.Y., a red tam very much on one side of the head, long red earrings, and pretty much makeup. Henny tells all the customers that I just came from Paris, do not know much English and then she talks German to me. We have been laughing tears. My job there is to look attractive and watch that nothing is stolen. I even sold already for $1.25.

Lots of love and kisses from your very lucky Trudel.

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October 12, 1934 “He claimed I did not iron his underwear properly and burnt his breakfast bacon on purpose.”

October 12, 1934 “He claimed I did not iron his underwear properly and burnt his breakfast bacon on purpose.”

Oct 12, 1934 9:00 p.m.

My dear, dear ones.

I am in such a good happy mood that I want to share it with you and try to write as sensible a letter as possible.

I have been very concerned why Papa did not thank me personally for his birthday letter. He has written otherwise. Is something wrong? I sure hope every thing is o.k.

Yesterday I received Ernale’s letter with newspaper clipping and a postcard from Alex. In the evening I was at Weils. It is always very nice and relaxing there.

How do you like the picture of my newest and hopefully last friend on his stationery. Two weeks ago after we met in his office, we went for dinner as I told you on the postal card. Then I had a date with him one week later. And now we see each other almost every day.*

A week ago Monday I appeared as a witness in the divorce case between Aunt Henny and Uncle Julius. It was really fun for me. It seemed to me like a movie. I did not testify against either one since after all they both were instrumental in bringing me here. He claimed I did not iron his underwear properly, and burnt his breakfast bacon on purpose. After all I told them I did not know how to iron and had never seen bacon especially those thin slices they eat here for breakfast.

Next Monday is another hearing in Court.**



After court Aunt and I went to Chinatown. First a big dept. store and then chop suey dinner. It was very interesting. The day before Mr. Grossberg, aunt’s lawyer took me to an Italian restaurant.

On Sunday I was for the first time in a really Reform temple. Gigantic big, wonderful Rabbi, excellent choir and quite crowded. Tuesday I had a real German dinner at Rose’s and afterwards went to Samuels, they are a very nice family. The next night a real American dinner at Grossbergs. As you see I can get everything here.

temple sholom

Temple Sholom

On Saturday I did something for the first and probably the last time. I went to a Beauty Parlor school where I got for only 35¢ my hair set. But it took almost 2 hrs. It looked very nice once I was done but after 2 days it was all gone. And I was 3/4 hrs late for my date with Leonard.

I think I [will] have my hair cut as I used to have it tomorrow. The last time I had it cut was May 5th!

In the meantime I have been to the movies a few times. With Mr. Grossberg, I saw “Notorious Sophie Lang” a very exciting diamond smugglers story and with Opa “Of Human Bondage,” excellent and “The Love of Ariane” with Elisabeth Bergner. Very nice.

Of Human BondageMany people claim that I resemble Elisabeth Bergner, anyway the story could almost be my story. And then there were second movies [double features]. Some with Charlie Chaplin, extremely funny. But “Death on the Diamond” which I saw with Leonard was awfully upsetting.

The reason I tell you all this is to let you know what you should or should not see when it comes to you.Ariane

At work things are slowing down already. We don’t start until 1:00 p.m. every day and naturally earn much less money. But I manage o.k.

Glad to hear you found a new milliner. Tomorrow I have a date with Louise Hamburger to fit some hats. I had dinner with Alfred [Hamburger] one night last week. He is as nice and goodhearted as ever, but he is very stubborn and in business very hard to get along with.

You must have found a lot of junk when you cleaned out the old apt. I got $10 for that figurine and will buy a dress and pair of shoes with it. It is very easy to spend money here.

Ernale’s last letter came via San Francisco but still took only 13 days.

Elizabeth Bergner

Elizabeth Bergner

I would love to have a snapshot of Beethoven Str 5B so I can get an idea which building it is and I would also like to know how you have your furniture arranged so I can get an idea.

The weather is here now beautiful –like May or June in Ffm [Frankfurt]. In the evening it gets nice and cool.

Did you know that we have here 2 different times. One is called Standard Time – the same always for railroads and buses, etc., and then they change the clock 1 hr in the summer for Daylight Savings Time. Very confusing.

Since I meet Leonard often, I talk a lot of English. Sometimes he tries to talk German to me and it really sounds very funny.

By the way my boss Gus Bing will get married next week. Our forelady Marie told me and she is very happy. Die Fledermaus Poster

Today I received postal cards from Gaby and and heard from Richard Bloch. In the meantime I did hear from [Kurt?] Stevenhagen.

Shame on you Ernale for getting drunk. And flirting with 10 men at the same time!!

Regards as usual from Aunt Henny who calls me her sister now. I doubt that I will go with her to Florida. It is expensive and I do not feel like it. She plans to leave Nov. 1.

CarmenIt is already 11:30 and I should retire. Tonight I was all alone at home. Henny left me a note that she is visiting with some friends for a few days. It was delightful to be alone for a change.

Civic Opera Building

Civic Opera House

Tomorrow I hope to see Carmen in the opera house and in 2 weeks hope to hear the Fledermaus in German, also in the opera house.

Somebody on the radio just said “Good Night” and so do I.


*[A “comment” at this point in Trudel’s handwritten translation of this letter reads, “When Aunt Henny heard that he was divorced over one year, she urged me to date him. She even would have liked to join us because she thought he had a lot of money. When she found out that he lost everything in his attempt to be re-elected as alderman of his ward, she tried very hard to talk me out of meeting him again.” It is not clear whether this comment was in her original letter or whether she added it when doing her translation. ]

** [ A comment here says, “My new friend did not take the case but certainly took the supposedly witness.” My father had been asked to represent one of the parties, but he refused. Again, It is not clear that this sentence was part of the original letter, but the line, in one variant or another was part of family lore. ]


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November 17, 1934 “It’s good to have friends everywhere.”

November 17, 1934 “It’s good to have friends everywhere.”


My very very dear ones,

So glad Pappa’s [long] letter arrived here yesterday. Otherwise I might have addressed you differently [because it had been so long since they had written] and I am sure I will receive Doddo’s long promised long letter some day. I am only wondering if it will come in 1935 or 1936.

Dear Pappa seems to have the same trouble as I do. I sit down and don’t know what to write and all of a sudden 3 pages are full. I guess some of the questions I have answered already and I will try to answer the rest now. I wonder if one of my letters got lost since my numbers do not jive with yours anymore.

Dear Bubule, please give my regards to Dr. Samuel when you see him. I wrote a card to Dr. English and wonder if he received it.

Today I am using Leonard’s typewriter for this letter but it does not go any faster than if I write by hand.

1934 DeSotoAirflo

!934 DeSoto

The friendship between Hamburgers and Aunt Henny is not too strong and Julius is with them like with most nice people – broges [angry, upset]. Henny had mostly business affairs with them. Between Leonard and them is also only more acquaintances than friendship.

Actually it was not necessary for Julius to vouch for me [for papers to come to the United States]. Anybody else could have signed the papers. But I still am thankful to him that he did it.

I do not look forward to going to court again next Tuesday [in the divorce between Trudel’s Aunt Henny and Uncle Julius].

It makes such a difference if one is dressed well here.



If I get mother’s jet dress I will probably make an evening jacket out of it. That is very stylish here now, with a little cap from the same material. You probably think, What worries does she have? But it makes such a difference if one is dressed well here. Not only that it makes one feel better.

Today I made myself a real pretty little hat from the left overs of my blue housecoat. It happens to match exactly the color of a cheap dress I bought last week. I also made a green hat to match another cheap dress I bought. So I have now 6 hats and I will make myself a black velvet cap.

Yesterday I got a new customer. The black girl who cleans my room. She saw me working on a hat and asked me to make it for her in brown.


I cannot make up my mind what to do about my room. Some people say I have to get out of this neighborhood as soon as possible while others agree that I live in my room which I like and don’t bother about the neighborhood. And it is so convenient to go where ever I want.

It is now Saturday at 9:00 p.m. Leonard has some work to do so we came here to the office in the pouring rain.

It’s good to have friends everywhere.

Reinhardt on the set of midsummer's nights dream

Max Reinhardt and cast on the set of a production of Midsummer Nights Dream

Last night we were again together with the portrait painter and his wife. They have a car very similar to Lu’s only it is a DeSoto. As usual first dinner then a so-so movie and a cup of coffee afterwards. He had trouble finding a place to park so a policeman just put the sign “no parking” away. It’s good to have friends everywhere. Next Saturday the four of us want to see a “MidSummer Night’s Dream” under the direction of Max Reinhardt.

I finally talked to Aunt Fanny and made a date with her for next Tuesday. At work we were very busy this past week. Another company worked in our place and I do not know why. I helped them there.

I pretended not to understand any English and heard them talk about me.

I pretended not to understand any English and heard them talk about me. One said that I was very slow–so what else is new. And then another said I did such very good work. That is much more important to me.

One of the ladies from the other company asked me for my address and phone number. They are not sure if they are coming back to work with us next week and she would like me to come to work for them. I was really surprised that she picked me from 8 other girls who work much faster than I but it proved to me that I know something, even if they cannot use me [next week].

Broges! Family!

Otherwise there is not much to tell, except that a brother of Julius Seckbach was run over by a car and died on the way to the hospital. It happened on the day when Rose and her husband were going to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. Of course that was canceled. After all he was her husband’s brother.

Did I tell you that Henny insulted her sister in law very much and nobody could convince her to apologize until several weeks later. The day before I moved out she finally called her and asked Rose to forgive her. Actually I had on Opa’s insistence planned to rent a room from Rose, but because those 2 were feuding I did not do it. Just as well. But I am glad they made up.

Flora Mae

Flora Mae

I have no idea what is going to happen to Henny’s plans to go to Florida. The legal aspects with Julius are not finished yet and her money from working at the Fair is slowly running out. She is now again selling Xmas postal cards. A very big business here.

I was with her last Tuesday and will go again tomorrow evening. It takes me at least 1 hr to get home from her. Thursday night I was at Samuels. It takes 1½ hr. each way. That is like going from Ffm Center [Downtown Frankfurt] to Hamburg.

This afternoon Leonard and I picked up his adorable Flora Mae again. She and I get along great and I have been playing games with her. As usual we 3 had dinner at the Madison Park Hotel.

It is only 4½ more years before I can become an American citizen.

Madison Park Hotel

Madison Park Hotel in later years

If this letter is kind of messed up it is because I am using the typewriter and I have to look at the letters all the time. I have been typing for over 1 hr now. It is awfully slow when one is as bad a typist as I am.

I try to correspond with some of the people of the boat and every day I hear of more refugees who are coming here. It is only 4½ more years before I can become an American citizen. How the time flies.

Love and kisses,

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