Tag Archives: music

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 9, 1934 “I have already one order for a hat.”

June 9, 1934 “I have already one order for a hat.”

June 9, 1934

My dear Goldkinder,

Many thanks for Erna’s postal card from Strassburg. I hope you all are o.k. but wish you would write at least to Aunt Henny once.

Wednesday morning I went with her to choir practice and met some very nice people there incl. the director who is from FFM. He is in charge of all the Gesang Vereins German singing societies) here. While they sang I wrote a few letters. Then we did a little shopping and had dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

Did any of you ever eat chop suey? It is a real Chinese dish and I liked it very much. Vegetables I had never heard of. Shrimps and a very tasty gravy. The waiter a Chinese student kept coming to our table to talk to us.

Afterwards we went to Weils. What a pleasure. We had so very much to tell each other. Aunt Jenny? told a lot of ancient stories. It was a lot of fun. Nothing about her sister here. They have not talked together since her husband died 2 yrs ago. What is the sister’s name? I’ll try to find out something.

Jenny claims she wrote 2 long letters to Doddo after they were in Europe a few years ago but you never answered. Is that correct? I doubt it. We talked until 11:30 p.m. I will visit them again next week. The 2 daughters are very nice.

Alice, the younger, works for the post office and Jenny plays piano in concerts and as accompanist for singers etc.

I have never seen such an apt. It is a big hotel, you have to take an elevator up. Then you walk into 1 large room, with a sleeping couch. That is Aunt Jenny’s bed. Otherwise there is a sofa and 2 big easy chairs.

Next to it is a kitchen as practical as can possibly be. In the middle is a gas range with a pilot light burning constantly. To get one of the burners lighted you only have to press a button and the pilot light will turn it on. All you have to do is turn the handle of the burner you want, push the button and the stove is on. Without a match or anything else. The other half of the kitchen is the dining room like in most homes. A table and chairs.

Now back to the living room. There is a big double door and when you open it there is a double bed standing up against the wall. It comes out very easily and it is ready for sleeping. It is called an inador bed. That is where both girls sleep. Like in every apt there is a beautiful bathroom. The closet where the inadoor bed stands has room on both sides for a wardrobe.

Every morning a girl comes to clean the place. All together this costs $60 a week. Can you picture it? It is certainly very practical but would be too small for my taste.

On Thursday the weather was bad. We stayed in bed until noon, and all day at home. Uncle had taken some work home the day before and we just went for a little walk around the neighborhood. We tried to visit a friend of Auntie’s but only her very nice 20 yr old daughter was at home. We had a very pleasant visit although she understood very little German and I notice more and more how little English I really know.

Trudel with uncle

Trudel walking with her uncle on a chilly summer day

She picked me up Friday morning and took me along to the University nearby where she is studying. It was very interesting. We went to 2 lectures but I understood only about 1/3. But I learned a few things anyhow. We ate lunch there and I met 2 more girls one of whom knows Aunt H.

At 3 o’clock my 1st friend here named Edith Grossberg, put me on a bus to meet Auntie downtown. We went again to Marshall Fields which is more like a museum than a store and then to the busiest corner in the world right in the middle of the city corner State and Madison Streets. Here the city is divided in 4 parts. Everyone starts with #1 going east, west, north and south.

There at the Boston Store I bought a very simple white linen suit. Actually a skirt with 3/4 coat for $10. I really needed it because of the terrible heat which I do not like. And then in between there are very cool days. No matter how hot it is one cannot go out without a coat or sweater. The weather can change so fast.

White Linen Suite

Trudel in her new white linen suit

Auntie bought a very nice black wool coat. Also for $10. I will pick up my suit next week since I had no money with me. But they will hold it for me. You can go into the stores and try on all kinds of clothes and leave without buying.

From there we went to pick up Uncle and to eat. Auntie and I went to a movie and Uncle Julius went to a stamp auction. We walked a little to see everything in bright lights. Really beautiful–especially along State St. with all the lighted up shop windows. Looks almost white.

On our trip home at night we always pass the World’s Fair. You cannot imagine all those lights in different colors changing all the time.

Worlds fair at night

Postcard of the World's Fair at Night

This morning we moved furniture around our apt. We all like changes. We re-arranged the furniture in our bedroom and like it better for the time being.

Right now I hear on the radio a song I heard constantly on the boat and saw the movie. Every night when we danced they played it at least once. I liked the melody very much and kept humming it to myself. But now I am getting tired of it. The nice thing about it is the fact that it reminds me of that wonderful time on board. I am not trying to say that it is not nice now. I only worry that I may get too lazy here.

World's Fair at night

A reflecting pool at the World's Fair

On the ship there was constantly something going. Uncle leaves the house at 7:30 a.m. Auntie fixes his breakfast and goes back to bed. We both do not get up until 10 or 11 o’clock. I could find a lot of things to do but don’t feel like it.

Especially I have to learn more English. Unfortunately we only talk German at home. Uncle won’t do it otherwise. He is still more German than American. I too still like my homeland but I cannot understand that after 30 yrs in this country he has not adopted any manners or customs from here. Only what is from Germany is any good. He hates everything from anywhere else even the U.S.A.

On the other hand he does not want to go back. His work is beautiful. It is amazing to watch him and see how diplomas etc. come out so fast and perfect. He is very proud of his talent. A typical artist. He is already 62 yrs old.

Auntie told me a lot about her 19 yrs in U.S.A. this week. It sure had its ups and downs. Whenever she thought things were going well, something happened. Either sickness or a marriage. Now she is trying to do everything to make things nice and pleasant for me. In the beginning she went through a lot of trouble. But in between she also had lots of good times.

Today it is awfully hot again. I am sweating. Yesterday it was so cold that I was freezing in a suit. I have already one order for a hat, but I have to buy myself a wooden hat block first. I am keeping myself very busy, sewing and fixing for Auntie and myself.

Next week I intend to go to Weils 1 day to do some work on their sewing machine. We do not have one. (Actually, we have no furniture except 3 beds. Uncle has a closet in his room and we have a very little one in our room and actually live out of our trunks and suitcases.)

Martin, Uncle’s son, is supposed to come here this evening. So far we have always missed each other. Tomorrow we are going to a picnic of the German choirs. I wonder how that is going to be. At least I will have a chance to dance again. I have missed that.

I am here 6 weeks already and I am sure a lot of things have happened to you which would be very much of interest to me. You really do not have to write as detailed as I but a little more.

Today I received a big package of things that I had left behind in N.Y. It got to be 4:00 p.m. now and I do want to write to a few more people and do some sewing. By the way both Auntie and Uncle asked me to send you their regards when ever I write.


Your Noodlesoup.

p.s. Uncle just came home and told me that I should come for an interview to his nephew’s wholesale millinery business on Monday.


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August 17, 1934 “You complain that I do not write often enough.”

August 17, 1934 “You complain that I do not write often enough.”


My Dear Lazywriters:

You complain that I do not write often enough and I have not heard from you in 2 weeks.

This is letter #13* and should be a lucky one. Last Sunday I was again with Hans in the Dunes. As always it was beautiful. Except the flies were pestering us a lot so we could not take our usual afternoon nap.

Beach at Indiana Dunes

Beach at Indiana Dunes

In the evening we went again to the concert at The Fair. Since they had a terrific guest conductor that evening all the seats were taken already 1 hr before start! It was a fabulous Wagner concert. The concerts are always in the open similar to Ffm’s [Frankfurt’s] Palmengarten. Only that there are seats for about 1000 people and no admission charge. This evening at least another 500 or 1000 people were standing around or sitting on the grass.

Night time concert at the Ford Symphony Gardens

Do you know why the U.S.A. is called a “free” country? Everybody is free to do as he pleases, decent or indecent. Nobody cares what the other one is doing. People sit anywhere. It is a joke how old young, big and small, heavy and skinny, men and women and children sitting there between the bushes. And when it rains like it did on Wednesday, men and women wear the same thin rubber capes. Only foreigners notice that.

The police do not care if cars pass each other on the right or on the left side and so on. No man gets up on public transportation if there is no seat left for a woman. But they know exactly on which side of a woman a man should walk.

Just a year ago I learned in Wiesbaden how to eat properly with fork and knife. Now I have to learn all over the opposite. Here one cuts the meat, puts knife on the side, takes the fork in the right hand, eats like a little child using rolls or bread as a pusher.

European Dining

European Dining - Fork in Left Hand Knife in Right. Leave them that way.

American Dining

American Style - Change Hands

They eat bread and butter with everything. Even people from nice Jewish homes eat kosher sausage sandwich and drink milk with it. I have not tried that yet altho at the Fair the kosher sausage stand and the milk stand are right next to each other. Instead I have eaten several times “hot dogs,” Frankfurter würstchen on a bun the same size. That is another favorite national meal.

Since my last letter I was again 2 times at the Fair. I like it so much there.

Yesterday I had a letter from Herbert Pohl. He has been transferred to N.Y. He will get in touch with me if he comes back to Chicago.

The main event — I am almost at the end. Yesterday I received my 1st papers.** That pleasure cost me besides $5–2 hrs work time. I was to be there at 10:30 a.m. Left work at 10:00 after working 1 hr.

I did finally return to my job at a few minutes after 12:00 but was not allowed to work because everybody has to stop between 12:00 and 1:00. Orders from the N.R.A. “National Recovery Administration.” If an inspector would come and see me work, the bosses would be fined. So I just made some little wool dolls.

National Recovery Act

National Recovery Act Poster

Dear Papa, would you please ask Isi Gutman where I can get a subscription to Bayer’s Needlework Magazine. I can not find an address and Rose Seckbach would very much like to subscribe to it. She does a lot of beautiful needlework. This summer she was crocheting gloves and earned nice money with it. Almost all women here help their husbands earn money. No matter how little.

Rose’s husband foolishly sold his good going cigar business 2 yrs ago and has not found any other work.

Last week I met a newly married couple from Berlin. The only people they know from Ffm were Betty and Rudy Feitler.

Monday I had again a date with my friend who has a car and owns a restaurant. He did not pick me up until 10:00 p.m. so I had a nap before we went out. We went to a nice Road House for a delicious steak dinner and dancing. But the place is so far out you can get there only by car. He likes to eat in other places instead of his own restaurant.

Private Scandal Poster

Private Scandal Poster

Yesterday I went for a change to a movie. “Private Scandal.” Funny and exciting. Usually I like the extra films better — usually something with Mickey Mouse or like yesterday a tour of the vacation spots of the stars. He claims he understands everything I say in my bad English. It is getting better all the time.

What about your vacations Doddo and Ernale? I sure thought a lot of you Doddo when we had a bad thunderstorm a few nights ago. I hope to write a few more letters tonight. So it will get late again.

Greetings to everybody.

Loads of love and kisses.

p.s. please excuse my mixed up writing and bad spelling but my mind seems to be always 3 sentences ahead of what I am writing.

* Actually, this is at least the 21st letter in the collection, perhaps this is the thirteenth to her sisters.
**For citizenship or permanent residence.

A contemporary source for Continental and American table manners is available in this article

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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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November 5, 1934 “Now I can write all my letters with ink again. I bought myself a new fountain pen for 25¢.”

November 5, 1934 “Now I can write all my letters with ink again. I bought myself a new fountain pen for 25¢.”

Sunday 11/4.

Today I am ½ year away from you dear ones. After a very nice dinner I am now sitting in Leonard’s office. In ½ hr we will go to see the “Fledermaus.”

I want you to know that the paperweight sent to Doddo and the ashtray I sent Erna were given to me by one of the Vienna friends from the boat. Opa had nothing to do with that he only did the packing.

Glad to hear that you Pappa always were a Republican. Leonard is too. He has always been very active in politics and some of his friends still call him Alderman. So many people know him and where we go people greet him. Now I think I have answered your letter Pappa.

One Night of Love referred to in letters

Click for YouTubes.

Last Friday I was again in [at] a movie with Opa. An excellent picture “One Night of Love”. Last night Leonard and I saw a very nice movie.

I forgot the name–Now I can write all my letters with ink again. I bought myself a new fountain pen for 25¢.

Now I can write all of my letters in ink again.

"Now I can write all of my letters with ink again."

Continued 11/5.

I could not finish this letter last night since we had to rush to get to the Fledermaus on time. It was a very good performance in German. Of course not as good as a New Years eve performance in Ffm.

poster from The opera described in trudel's letters

Die Fledermaus

The house was filled every seat taken. We were really lucky to get 2 tickets together. And what a big beautiful theatre. Wish you could see it too. Much bigger and more elaborate than the one where I was 2 weeks ago. It really felt good to be in a crowd of nice elegant people instead of the “Gesang Verein” affairs and hear only German speaking.

Civic Oper House

"What a big, beautiful theatre."

Today we are not starting to work until 1:00. So I am going to go downtown now to do a little shopping and maybe look for another job for a change. I wonder when I will receive the $8 they owe me and a few things I still have hanging there from Budwig. They had already an auction 1 week ago. Too bad I did not take a wooden head block home over the weekend. They would never been able to auction that off. Gus gave me one when I was there the first time and I am glad I have it.

Yesterday Sunday afternoon I was supposed to come to Weils but why should I spend a nice Sunday afternoon with them when Leonard really only has time for me on Sundays?

That is it for now. I am very happy and send you love and kisses.

[Below in Leonard J. Grossman’s handwriting, also in German in original letter.]

Greeting and best wishes, Leonard.

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