Tag Archives: prices

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.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 1, 1935 “That is not an April Fools joke”

April 1, 1935   “That is not an April Fools joke”

April 1, 1935

My Dear Ones:

Today I am again using my lunchtime to write to you, otherwise I will be too busy. That is not an April Fools joke.

First of all I want to answer your nice letter, since Papa always claims I do not do that.

You ask if I can save any money. Yes, I do. Last week I put $10 in my savings account. It was high time; I had very, very little left there. During the quiet time, between seasons, I used up almost all my savings. Now I am earning $12 to $14 every week besides my private customers. My room is $3.50 a week. For a meal I spend about $4 – If I am not invited often. Transportation about $1 – and then of course postage stamps, soap, laundry, shoe repairs, hosiery, etc.* I do some errands for Leonard.

Besides, breakfast and dinners Saturdays and Sundays and once in a while during the week are paid by him.

So please, each of you can write what just comes to your mind. Do not worry that one of the others might have written it already. So far I have never gotten any news twice. Just the opposite, I have to guess sometimes what you are trying to tell me.

Is Papa going to Dr. Billigheimer? If so, please give him my best regards, next time you see him. I gave all your messages to diverse people. I have not talked to Weils lately but will call them next week.

What gives you the impression that Julius S has a lot of money? I am not so sure. The 2 of them [Trudel’s Uncle Julius and Aunt Henny] got together somehow last week and made up again. Henrietta [Henny] will tell me more when I go to see her tonight. The Saunders [a family with whom Trudel often eats supper] are not Jewish, but very nice people.

Erna 1935


Now to Ernales’ letter, you great poet. Yes, it was really high time I received a nice photo of you. Yesterday I wrote Alex a long birthday letter. I hope it was not too stupid since I was very tired when I wrote.

Back of Photo

Back of Erna's Photo**

Shrove Tuesday is not popular here, but Ash Wednesday is important. How is Hedwig? By the time you receive this letter I hope she and her kids will have forgotten that they were ill.

I wrote a long letter to Hamburgers and also one to Mrs. Brown. No answers yet. Last week, I wrote a detailed letter to Justus. Never heard again from Victor. Do not know what to write to Pohl, since you say he got married.

I can understand well why Papa does not want to kiss me with my lipstick lips. I can understand very well. But do not worry, I do use very little lipstick.
To take off the makeup I use a “cold cream” or “cleansing cream.” Cover the face lightly, leave it on for a few minutes. Then wipe it off with cotton or Kleenex. That’s all. Now I believe I have answered all your questions.

Now comes my weekly report on the streetcar on the way home from Aunt Henny:

Chicago Street Car


Last week Henny and Julius were for the last time in court and settled for $150. That is the amount which would be due her if they got a divorce in one year after living separately that long. He claimed that he borrowed that money from his brother or nephew.

Aunt Henny is working in politics and real estate. She seems to earn enough to get along. For her birthday I made her a beautiful brown straw hat. She liked it very much and bought a bottle of wine of which I had one cup full. She has no glasses in her room.

I wrote you before that I had a letter from a new company last Saturday. I started to work there Monday at 8:30 am and like it very much. The place is only 10 minutes from my room. From the window on the 18th floor I can see the Devonshire Hotel and with binoculars I could probably see right into Leonard’s room.
Enclosed photos taken from Leonard’s room just miss the building where I am now working. It would be the next one to the right.

From the 18th Floor

From the 18th Floor

My working hours here are great. 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, 1 hour lunchtime, and 4:30 closing. And then I am right downtown to spend my money. Last Monday I was in bed at 7:00 pm already, 1 hr manicure, 1 hour crocheting and 9 pm lights out to go to sleep.

Tuesday night I surprised Leonard in his office and we went to eat together. Since he had an appointment, I went home and was in bed by 10:30 pm. Wednesday I was as usual at Gwen’s.

View from the Room

View from the Devonshire?

Thursday I went right from work to Leonard’s office to help him pack. He is moving his office again for a change. We worked until 1:30 am. Friday evening at Samuels, where I feel very much at home. And Saturday office moving. At 5:00 pm the furniture movers left. I was already wearing a house dress and put a smock over it. Leonard wore an old suit and shirtsleeves. After a very good supper we left the new office at 5:30 Sunday morning, after everything was in order and looked good.

at Night

Night View

12 hours later we were there again. AT 7:00 pm we decided to put all of his about 1000 books in order. That was a real job. And I have to admit we did a very good job. When we left at 2:00 am it all looked really good and ready for a lot of clients. What results will come I hope to be able to tell you soon. That should do it for today.

Loads of love, greetings, and kisses.


*A short list of some elements of the cost of living for 1935 can be found at
**I found this photo in what I believe was Erna’s photo album. The back of the photo, which was trimmed for the album, is addressed to Trudel and is dated April 25, 1935, twenty days after Trudel wrote this letter. So it may be a copy of the same photo or another.

Photos on this page are from family albums with the exception of the streetcar which is from Chuckman’s Collection.


Tags: , , , , , , ,