Tag Archives: memories

May 9, 1934 On board SS Manhattan.

May 9, 1934  On board SS Manhattan.

On board SS Manhattan. Wednesday, May 9, 1934.

My Dear Goldkinder,

To start with I want to apologize for my handwriting. It is now 4:00 p.m. and I am sitting on deck in a lightweight sweater in bright sunshine in a beach chair. The boat is shaking slightly from one side to the other on a rather quiet and beautiful ocean.

I found already nice company. We found each other even before the ship left Hamburg yesterday. Doddo can tell you much about it.

It is really wonderful here. After departure we visited for a little while, had a glass of beer and sandwiches until we retired about 11:30 p.m. I slept wonderful until 5:00 a.m. when the sun shone one me so invitingly that I first looked out the porthole for a little while, went back to sleep until 7:30 a.m.

We all met before breakfast until we were seated. The nice guy who tried to flirt with me last night and I are sitting at a table together. He is from Budapest and already fifteen years in New York. He reminds me of some other friends. Two girls sit alone because they eat kosher. The others are spread around. After a very large breakfast we went for a walk, then we rented chairs and are resting from doing nothing.

We are always in groups of four or six or more. This morning I also played ping pong to improve my appetite! In between they served consomme and crackers. After dinner we played catch, etc. before resting in our chairs again, three hours except for taking a few snapshots. It is good that my table mate is American. He can read the menu And tell me what it is. Just now we got tea and cookies.

I am getting lazier by the minute. Your know what corns on a certain place are? Well I think I am getting them.

On Deck

On the Deck of the SS Manhattan May 9, 1934

There are several people on board who have given me regards from friends but I am not very interested in most of them.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, a few of us want to walk a bit around LeHavre. Now I want to take a nap before dinner. Hope you can read this o.k.

Love, Trudel

The next letter is May 17. I will try to post more photos from the ship before then.

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May 10,1934 On Board the SS Manhattan

May 10,1934  On Board the SS Manhattan

May 10, 1934

My very dear ones,

It is really too beautiful to be true. But it is true thank God and I am enjoying it as much as possible. We are now in the Channel and on my handwriting you can see our boat is shaking quite a bit.

After I closed my letter yesterday we had to change clothes and after supper we danced on a slippery dance floor. At midnight two girls and five males went to the cabin of two of the men and had a drink, cookies and chocolate. At 2:00 a.m. we all finally went into our own cabins.

At 8:15 a.m. this morning Eugene Hollander with whom I sit at the tables, picked me up for breakfast. At 9:30 a.m. twelve of us went like a little caravan through Le Havre. Since all twelve of us are non-Aryan I heard more Hebrew and Yiddish than I used to hear in a year. I mailed the letter to you there.

We all stopped for a cognac And were back on board at 12:30 for dinner. Ernst Calin, who used to work with Ernst Cahn who used to work with you, Doddo? He would like to join our group but we do not care for his company. Especially my table partner, who is very intelligent guy–that’s why we are friends, ha, ha, ha. He talks many languages and was all over the world in all big cities.

Trudel and her group on deck.

on deck

On deck with Trudel

After dinner I rested and then I jumped into the very salty Channel pool and swam for about ½ hour, then a shower and now laying on deck to make my light rose cheeks darker.
By the way all immigrants were thoroughly searched for money etc. Not only I.

This morning before breakfast we ran around the deck about 15x to get a good appetite. We have to take advantage of this excellent food. I am too lazy to write others but you but received a few letters.

This afternoon in Le Havre about 100 more people came on board. I hope I do not get a roommate. It is so nice to be alone in my cabin.

Hopefully the weather stays as nice so I can come to the USA looking like a Negro.

Sorry I am writing so mixed up but I tell you things as they come in my mind. Last night I noticed that our ship can shake much more. The dance floor seemed to slip away under our feet but we all stayed upright. I hope we will dance again tonight, although I am now so tired that my eyes can hardly stay open. Greetings to everybody.

Loads of love and kisses your much to be envied,


P.S. We are all so happy and healthy together and feel so free!


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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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December 5 – A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

December 5  –  A Birthday Tribute to Trudel

A note from the editor:
Trudel was born on December 5, 1912 and died on October 12, 2007. By then she had had two sons, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, and now a third as well. She was known affectionately by all as “Omi.” A dozen years ago she was honored by her synagogue for a half century of volunteerism and participation. On that occasion, her granddaughter, my daughter Sarah Pelton, made some very special remarks. I thought that on the anniversary of her birthday I would share my daughter’s tribute with Trudel’s fans and followers, to give you an idea of the rich life the young woman you are meeting on these pages had over the next three quarters of a century. Today would have been her 99th birthday.

By the way the “Omi Cookies” Sarah refers to in this tribute are the same kind of cookies Trudel so eagerly awaited from Germany in her last letter and which she will talk about in the next. The recipe is at the bottom of the page.

A Tribute to Omi

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th birthday tribute

Trudel and Sarah at Trudel's 90th Birthday Party

I’d like to tell you a little story so that you can see my grandmother, Trudel Grossman, through her family’s eyes.

With two honks of the horn of her ‘88 Oldsmobile, Omi, my grandma lets us know she’s arrived for the usual Shabbos dinner at the Grossman house. Omi and Shabbos have come hand in hand for as long as I can remember. On Friday nights we have always alternated dinner at our house and dinner at Omi’s.

The car door opens and out climbs my tiny, high heeled, 86 year old grandmother. She makes her way to the top of our stairs loaded with shopping bags filled with all sorts of things from a dress she mended for me earlier in the week to slips of paper covered with questions she doesn’t want to forget to ask us.

As Omi comes through the door off comes her hat, which by the way she made herself, which makes her hearing aide whistle. Omi fidgets with her hearing aid for a few seconds until the high pitched sounds stops and then takes a seat on the stairs and hands out the goodies from her many shopping bags.

Omi then makes her way to the mirror in the front hall and pulls out her small brush and whisks her soft, thin, grey hair back into a short pony tail. I take a look into the mirror and see a strong, remarkable woman. A loving grandmother, mother, and friend who still drives all across the Chicago area doing errands for not only herself but other people.

After that we make our way over to the dining room. Each of us taking our usual spot. We say the blessing over the candles, the kiddish, and the motzi and then mom brings out dinner. With her usual appetite ( ya know she’s really got a somewhat surprising appetite for the 5 foot petite woman she is) Omi carefully chews off every last bit of chicken from the leg bone. Nothing is ever left on Omi’s plate, or left unused for that matter.

Even ripped nylons don’t go to waste in Omi’s house. She cuts them up and uses them as bands later to hold together anything and everything.

After dinner dad puts on the pot of coffee. While the coffee is brewing I take my place behind Omi’s chair to give her a massage while she tells about her week. She volunteered at the Mount Sinai Resale shop where she recently began doing their book keeping. Omi visited her friend Trudle at her Nursing home in Skokie twice, took her friend Maggie shopping, and did the synagogue’s shopping as well, she went the health club twice for her weekly swim and hot tub treatment, went to Friday night services at the Temple and somewhere in there she found the time to make a batch of her famous Omi cookies to send back to school with me.

For those of you who don’t know, Omi Cookies are a Trudel Grossman Specialty, she’s famous nation wide among her grandchildren’s friends because of these cookies. She has sent them everywhere. To Camp OSRUI in Wisconsin and with all of us on our various trips to Israel. Omi Cookies are simply very thin butter cookies.

But like Omi, looks can be deceiving, they may not look all that special on the outside but they are one of my favorite treats.

Some of you might remember the days when we all used to take a bus up to the Kallah [Synagogue annual retreat]. The bus ride home was never complete without the unveiling and distribution of Omi Cookies. I can remember being six years old and being so proud to pass out MY Omi’s cookies to everyone on the bus!

Trudel in Driver's Seat


As I finish Omi’s massage, Dad brings in the coffee and we have dessert. Once the last drop of coffee and the final bite of the desert she said she should not eat are gone, Omi gets ready to leave.

Hugging everyone goodbye and grabbing the now empty Jewel bags to reuse later Omi and I walk outside. Once she climbs back into her car, she gives us one farewell wave, and she drives away into the night.

Omi’s life has not been easy but through it all she has remained positive and has always given of herself. She has taught my Cousins Aryn, Maris, Seth and me the importance of perseverance and how to survive horrible things and never complain. She has really taught me who I want to be and what qualities are important to have in order to get by in life and still remain a person that you can be proud of.

Thank you Omi.

Trudel’s Famous Butter Cookie Recipe “Omi Cookies.”

Dough (which can also be used for pie crusts):
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 cups flour

1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Trudel's Kitchen

Trudel in Her Cozy Kitchen

let butter soften
mix after adding each ingredient
roll dough into sausage shape
slice as thin as you can (Omi used a cheese slicer)
put on cookie sheet lined with wax paper
spread glaze thinly over slices
bake for 20 min. at 275 degrees

Guten Appetit!

Thanks to another of Trudel’s granddaughters, Aryn Froum, who reports that Trudel told her this recipe while they were baking them in her cozy kitchen several years ago.

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January 11, 1935 “I almost slept in a bed Lincoln slept in, but it was too hard”

January 11, 1935  “I almost slept in a bed Lincoln slept in, but it was too hard”

This letter was written on January 10, 1935 and completed on January 11.

Jan 10, 1935

Dear Goldkinder,

Although I have not heard from you, I will write you now. Am I not a good girl?

If I am not mistaken I have not written a very sensible letter to you yet this year. Thanks for postal cards from Xmas–Saalburg and New Year’s Eve Cafe at the Hauptwache. I received them with thanks.


Cafe Hauptwache

Just imagine today I finally received the balance of my salary owed me by Budwig (Gus Bing). Somehow the check was delayed in the mail and I finally got it.

Rose and Max Seckbach moved to California last Monday. She could not stand the weather and temperature here any longer because of her very bad asthma and hay fever. I went to see them off and saw the whole family again. Opa, her father, lives now with a lady where I almost rented a room. Hans has taken a room in one of the best hotels on the South Side.

That evening I realized again how clever I was not to have a lot of people there (at the boat dock) when I left Germany. There were so many tears shed.

Postcard from Saalburg

An Old Postcard from Saalburg

I now have a nice new friend: Gwen Bishop. I wrote you about her before. We are spending quite some time together. I helped her make a dress and made a hat and little purse to go with it. She also is having the black and light blue sweater from me when I finish it. I will also crochet a skirt to go with it. I even slept one night at their house this week.

When I came there after work it was very icy and slippery and it got worse during the evening. So they did not let me go home. I almost slept in a bed Abraham Lincoln had slept in a few times but it was too hard for me. Instead I slept in a bed so large I was afraid to get lost in it.

And I wore a very beautiful crepe de chine nightgown with a lot of lace trimming.

This morning we went downtown together and then I went home with her again. They asked me to stay another night but I did not feel like it. Since she had only 5 flat irons I had her give me 1 of them.


Gwen Bishop's Home

I also visited with Aunt Henny this week. I had been trying repeatedly to call her without success but she complained to several people that I was neglecting her. Finally I wrote her a postal card. She was in bed for a couple of days with a very bad cold, but she is much better now.

Everybody here has a cold and cough. Leonard and I did changing off too. We did not even try to see Flora Mae yet this year. We are both o.k. now.

One evening last week I was at Aunt Fanny Ratzenstein. It was very nice. We looked at old photos which was very enjoyable. I gave her the photo of Tante Dortche in front of her house, which she appreciated.

At work we are quite busy now. I am not sure what I should do. At this job I do not earn very much but know I have a secure job. If I change I may have work for 3 months maybe and then I sit at home.

For 3 weeks we had a forelady here who we found out on the last day came here from Bremmen and was for 2 yrs kinderfraulein for a family in Ffm. She did not like this job here and told me on Friday that she would not be here on Monday. She gave me her phone number and asked me to get in touch with her.

Also Gus Bing’s wife, who I met at the train station Monday, gave me her address and phone number. She suggested that I come some evening with my boyfriend for dinner. Leonard is right now very busy so I may go there alone 1 evening next week. After all Gus is in the millinery business and I know he liked my work.

Hauptmann Lindbergh Trial Headline

Aunt Henny is still considering leaving Chicago. Now she is talking about California instead of Fla.

Since 2 weeks I buy a newspaper every night and read for about 1½ hrs. I am closely following the Hauptmann-Lindbergh case. You have probably heard of it too.

I received New Year’s cards from Dr. Samuel and Dr. Billingheimer. I think that is very nice. Ilse Niederman wrote me a 4 page letter in very good English. That shows what we can do if we really want to.

I am wondering when I will hear from you again. Remember you were going to send me my papers and report cards from the Trade School.

On last Thursday I was here 8 months already, and 1 year ago yesterday I received the notice to come to Stuttgart for my affidavit. It is a good sign when the time seems to pass so fast.

Love Trudel


In answer to your picture postal card — Except for my annual cold I am fine. I have not talked to Aunt Henny since Xmas. I have tried to call her several times in vain. We are very busy at work now.

How do you like Leonard’s German? It would be real nice if each of you would write to him once too. Or is that asking too much?

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