Tag Archives: shopping

May 24, 1934 New York “You can get used to a lot of things.”

May 24, 1934 New York “You can get used to a lot of things.”

[Editor’s note: This letter was begun on 5/24/1934, written over several days and finished on May 26.]

My beloved dear ones.

I am continuing my last letter now and try to tell things in order. Kurt Brand picked me up Sunday at 3:00 p.m. We went down Broadway and we met on the street his aunt we intended to visit. We walked together for a while and had nice conversation, then Kurt and I went to see a movie. That is the main entertainment here. All times of the day. Movies. Then we went on the top of a double decker bus, front seats, partly downtown. He showed me the new big railroad station and we went for an excellent dinner. He was very nice and even bought me some flowers. Of course we had a lot of fun talking about old memories.

Later we went to Heinsheimers because Rudy’s birthday was the next day. There were a few more young people and we had a very nice time until we went home at 11:30.

On Monday morning as I told you already, Ludwig went with me to the Bus Co., then to his place of business. I needed some things from my suitcase. He wanted to take me to the subway station but I begged him to let me go alone to see if I could find my way home alone. Well, I did but he called to make sure I got there o.k.

In the afternoon Gustl and I visited relatives for coffee. In the evening Kurt Dillenberg picked me up and we took the streetcar part of the way into downtown, so I had a chance to see it all with the lights on. The nicest is around Times Square with one movie house next to the other and each trying to outdo the other with light advertising.


Times Square at Night (a few years later)

We looked at the indoor swimming pool in the Park Central Hotel and walked around Central Park, which is unbelievable. Big tall rocks, a gigantic pool where one can rent a rowboat anytime and all around the park are illuminated skyscrapers. One really does not expect such a nature place in the middle of these large and many buildings.

We had a strawberry soda. That stuff is delicious. You go into any so called drugstore and sit on a barstool to be served. You can get used to a lot of things. It was really a pleasant evening again.

On Tuesday I met two of our 3rd or 4th cousins. We took the subway to Coney Island. Do you know where that is? Did you get my postal card from there? I will try to explain. Imagine a long beach along the ocean. On the one side you see only nice white soft sand and the water. On the other side of the boardwalk are bathhouses, children’s playgrounds, ping pong and tennis courts and restplaces for grownups, sports utensils, fenced in swimming pools etc. that goes on for miles. One can wear slacks all day which of course I like but it takes too long to get there without a car.

Coney Island at Night

Behind the buildings and pools etc. is a gigantic amusement park with different merry-go-rounds, several ferris wheels. Sadie and I went on one of the big, fast wild rides. All in all about 20x as big as what I have ever seen. Most of the places do not open until next Sunday and will close Sept. 15th. After walking along the boardwalk for about 1 hr. we stopped to eat and I wrote a few cards. Then we walked back again, stopped for ice cream and took the subway to Sadie’s home. The weather was really strange that day. Very hot in the morning. Turning very cold and in the evening thunderstorm and continued rain.

At dinner I met another one of those cousins. Before we left in the morning, Ernst Kahn visited me. He likes it very much here too but has not found work yet.

Yesterday morning we were on the Manhattan to see off friends who were going to Germany for a visit. One steward greeted me very nicely. He wanted to know if I was going back with them. All the others were too busy. I also met one of our passengers again.

I have taken a lot of photos already but do not like the way they develop and print them here. If they do no better in Chicago I will send the films to you in the future to have them processed.

From the boat we went shopping for my dress. This was very interesting. The company has two stores, an old one and a new one. We first went to the old one but did not find anything. The new store is just like a large store room. All clothes are on hangers all around sorted by sizes and you pick out what you think you might like, take 4 or 5 over your arm into a dressing room. What you don’t like you put aside right away. On the ones you might want to buy you have to keep an eye so nobody grabs it to try it on too. I wrote you already that the one I picked is very becoming.

This job took 1½ hrs. and we were glad when we got home finally. Then after doing a little alteration on the dress we went to buy the shoes.

The big distances here take a lot of time and it is not surprising that the Americans are always in a hurry. I doubt that I can get in touch with all the people here I had planned to call, actually I know that I will not have time enouugh here in N.Y.

Last night as I told you already I had dinner at Mrs. Brown–tonight at Kurt Brand. Tomorrow morning I have to get my trunk ready. Saturday nite my old table partner Rudy Heinzheimer wants to take me out very fancy. Sunday afternoon I have a date with Kurt Dillenberg. This morning I talked to my tablemate from the boat on the phone. We are trying to make some date for Sunday.

Tomorrow night I want to go to Temple Emanuel for Services. It is the biggest synagogue here and supposed to be very beautiful. Last night we had a ball trying on hats. I have inherited several already.

They are all so very nice to me. Gustl thinks I might even like it better in Chicago than in N.Y. But I can’t believe that.

Coney Island

Coney Island Post Card

Something is wrong with me today but I do not know what. I did get up at 8:30 but have no ambition to do anything. I would have so much time today to visit some people but just can’t make up my mind to do anything. It is already 12:30 p.m. and I am still sitting here in my housecoat and slippers at the desk next to my bed overlooking the River.


Editor’s Note: As Trudel mentioned, she didn’t like the film processing here, which may explain why there were only the tiny thumbnails I posted with the previous letter[literally the size of the nail on my thumb] in her album. I have added a few period photos to these posts.]

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

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

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

Dearest Papa, Doddo and Erna,*

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

Three Sisters

Trudel, Erna and Lotte in 1932

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

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

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

Trudel's father, Adolf Adler

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

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

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

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

Fire at Stockyards

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

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

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

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

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

Night time concert at the Ford Symphony Gardens

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

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

Aerial view of World's Fair

Aerial View of the Fair

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

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

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

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

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

Al Jolson

Wonder Bar

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

[to be continued]

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


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March 17, 1935 – Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.

March 17, 1935 – Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.


My Dear Ones,

When I have a lot to tell you I just never seem to find enough time. For a change this is happening again this week.

First of all, I am very glad that Doddo wrote me again after three months. The photo I think is excellent. Gabor is really a great artist. Weils did not want to believe that it is Doddo. Leonard is very charmed and everybody else I showed it likes it very much. When will I get such a photo of Pappa and Ernale?

Lotte Adler

Lotte Adler (Probably later photo)

What is the matter with Steffi? What’s happened to her? Why did she come back? I have no idea at all. It all sounds so strange to me what you write.

Did you not receive the answer to your postal card very fast?

I like to add that Max should get in touch with Aunt Henny first, before he starts any business with Uncle Alfred. As I wrote you before, he is not too reliable business-wise, especially at such a distance.

Everybody who sends me regards, please reciprocate.

Now to myself again. When did I write you last? Oh, yes! Last Friday. That evening I had as usual a very good dinner at Samuels.

Saturday I was at Weils from noon on and when I arrived I had to eat bean soup and sausage right away. Then we listened on the radio from the New York Metropolitan Opera live “Tristan and Isolde.”*


Click for YouTube

Afterwards Eugenie and I went shopping. She is the funniest person I have met.

For supper a 59th cousin of ours and his young wife joined us. To be a little more clear: his grandfather was Max Adler, from Arheiligen, oldest stepbrother of Aunt Jenny Weil – which means a cousin of our Dad. Do you remember him? He came to the USA when you were about 12 years old. He had one son and one daughter. The daughter, Mrs Mitchel, has several sons and daughters and he is one of those. A very nice young fellow.

He is here about five months but was earlier for one year in Washington. It was interesting to meet more relatives.

Leonard was supposed to join us but he worked until 6:00 a.m. Sunday in his office. Of course he had not much ambition on Sunday. So we only took a little walk, read the papers, listened to the radio and I crocheted and went early to bed.

Monday evening I was again at Aunt Henny’s. She is in good spirits and goes out quite a bit. No idea with whom!

Tuesday evening I worked downtown. Gwen recommended me to a lady who has a little hat shop at Washington and Wabash Avenues on the 7th floor. She is Jewish and very nice. Of course, I was delighted to make hats. I will be working for her now every Tuesday and Thursday evening and all day Saturday.

Also she took me Wednesday morning to the best hat wholesale house and introduced me to the manager and told her I would like to work for them. She told me to be there at 8:30 a.m. the next day. They really had enough workers, but she wanted to try me out. You can not imagine how happy I was.

Garland Building

Garland Building*

I went once more to the old job, but told the manager that I was quitting that day. She really had been very nice to me, letting me come to work many days 3 hours earlier than the other girls so I could get a little more work out. I actually worked too nice for that place.

Pittsfield Building*

Wednesday night I was at Gwen’s but went home early and early to bed. The next morning at 8:30 I was at the new job at 12 S. Michigan Ave. 50 or 60 girls. Completely handmade hats. Work like I did at Ethic Schariot. But so exactly like the model, and I am not at all used to that anymore. If only I had never seen those very cheap so-called hats.

Of course all the women were much too busy to show or explain something to me. Those two days 3/14-15 were probably the worst for me business-wise. The first hat I made was in their opinion useless. I remember when I worked for Hilda Lorsch how upset I was when we ordered something and it was not exactly like the original. Maybe it was made by a person who tried as hard and was as unhappy as I was those two days. After that first unsuccessful try, the manager gave me another model to try my luck but that was not good enough either.

The manager was very nice. She saw that I was sewing very well but explained that they were too busy to teach me and I should not waste my and her time. Nevertheless she was nice enough to rip that hat and make it over. Before I put the trimming on it I showed it to her and all of a sudden it was O.K.

I had been so careful and finished it and she told me to come again on Monday. Boy, was I ever delighted, not that I had a job, but that I had this job.

Of course I am not sure that they will keep me. The head manager had not seen my work yet and it depends how I continue to the work. But I think I learned some tricks already and it may work out. And if it doesn’t I go one floor higher in the same building where Marei Bing is and I am sure they will take me.

In any case I will not go back to those very cheap hats. I did learn a lot in those two days but was so tired that I was in bed at 9 o’clock.

Yesterday I worked for Miss Cooper downtown.

In the evening we went to a real kosher restaurant. In this kosher place you get butter served if you eat milkish or meat! The place is very clean and not more expensive than other restaurants.

Yesterday the case against the yogi was finally concluded. So this case is finally over and to celebrate we went to a movie for a change. An excellent film: The Barretts of Wimpole Street. I recommend it to you if it comes to Ffm.

Wimpole Street Poster

Click for YouTube

Today we were all afternoon here in the hotel with Flora Mae. I took three snapshots on the way here. I hope they come out OK. I started this letter when Leonard left to take Flora Mae home, just a couple blocks from here. I can’t understand what takes so long.

Also I have no idea what time it is, according to what I have written it must be a long time since they left. Now he is coming. I hear his voice. So, I am finishing this, so we can eat. My stomach is growling.

I do have a very good appetite, but fortunately I have not gained any weight. On the opposite in the ten months since I am in this blessed land I have gotten seven pounds lighter.

Today we had beautiful weather but pretty cold. Yesterday snow and ice, the day before summerlike and the day previous warm and rain. I guess I wrote enough now. I cut out the enclosed newspaper clippings while I ate breakfast yesterday.

Now I close with greetings and kisses

*The YouTube clip is from the same performance of “Tristan and Isolde” that Trudel and the Weils listened to over the radio from the Met. I grew up listening to the Met on the radio every Saturday afternoon with Trudel – usually in her 1941 Dodge.

*The Garland and the Pittsfield buildings are across the street for one another on Wabash at Washington. It is more likely that Trudel worked at the Garland Building, which had smaller shops and stores. I remember Trudel taking me there to small shops that sold buttons and ribbons and other kinds of trim she used on hats. A wonderland for a little boy. Today the famous Cajun restaraunt, Heaven on Seven is in the building on the 7th Floor. (I worked in the Pittsfield Building when I was 13 years old.)

Apologies for the commercial at the beginning of the “Barrets of Wimpole Street” YouTube. I couldn’t find an ad-free version.

I had always thought the professional photo of Trudel used as the top image this week was taken in late 1936 but my brother tells me he believes it was taken in Germany before she came to the States. Perhaps it was taken by Gabor, the photographer she refers to above.

Special thanks to Chuckman’s Chicago Nostalgia site. Many of the vintage images I use on this site are courtesy of John Chuckman. It is worth exploring


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