Tag Archives: Synagogue

June 17, 1934 “The two men got almost into a fight to see which one of them could act as my father. . .”

June 17, 1934 “The two men got almost into a fight to see which one of them could act as my father. . .”

My dear dear ones

I received your letter and it made me very happy.

Today I am asking a big favor. Would 1 of you be nice enough to see if you can get the enclosed negatives printed about 3 x 4″? Here they just do not seem to be able to handle those tiny negatives. And if you can find them I would very much like to have some more of those little films to fit the camera Lou bought me on the way to Hamburg.

Tuesday night we went to Uncle’s brother Max and Rose Seckbach She seems to be slightly arrogant but makes beautiful needle work. She asked me to help her crochet gloves. She has so many orders she cannot fill them alone.

Wednesday night I visited again my new friend, Edith Grossberg. Aunt Henny and Julius were with Mrs. Grossberg at a lecture.

During that time we 2 and her brother took a stroll along the beach.


Jackson Park Beach (Chuckman's Collection)

A week from today her brother will make a surprise party for Edith. In order that it will be a real surprise I am going to write the invitations. I am coming as a special honored guest.

Thursday Henny and I went downtown again. She bought me for 20¢ a pair of red long hanging earrings. Can you picture me with long dangling earrings? I wore them the next day for lunch at Rose Sechbach’s. Then I sewed a few things on her electric sewing machine. What a pleasure when you do not have to thread all the time.

Afterwards we fixed some sandwiches and went to the Worlds Fair. He, she and her father who is 67 yrs old but looks much younger. He is very funny and I could tell you long stories about him.

Unfortunately it got all of a sudden very cold and windy and we could not see very much at the fair and all were happy when we got home again.

Anyway I saw a few interesting things. Cows being milked electronically, in 10 or 15 minutes they are milked and it is almost no work and it is much more sanitary than by hand. We also walked through a new aluminum streamliner railroad train. It has all possible comforts, has 1st and 2nd class and one could really enjoy traveling a few days and nights that way. We then went through the Hall of Religions where all different religions were displayed.

Stainless Steel train

The Burlington Zephyr. (The train Trudel called aluminum was probably this stainless steel beauty..)

In the Jewish [exhibit] they showed slides of very many famous people and institutions. We also visited the Hall of Science. There is so much to see of everything that one could spend several days to see everything. That even we concentrated on different sicknesses and having babies.

Hall of Science

Hall of Science from Across the Lagoon - Postcard

On the way we stopped at the Hungarian exhibit where I met one of the people from the boat. Although we hardly talked together on the boat, he was very nice. He too comes from Budapest like the nice Mr. Hollander and they were together often. We only stopped for coffee and fritter or small pancake.

Then went home with the I.C. train, short for Illinois Central R.R., the best and fastest transportation between the south side and downtown. I will use that too when I will be working. Then it will take me only 15 min. Too bad that R.R. only goes 1 stretch to Chicago. To get north or west one has to take a miserable streetcar bus or elevated. You cannot picture how much time is wasted on transportation here.

The I.C. train passed the whole World Fair and the many colored lights look beautiful in the dark. For instance the Ford Bldg has a big dome on top of which shine 3 different color lights rotating. From another building 10 blue flood lights illuminate the sky. Each building has its own distinctive lights shining into the sky. Anyhow the whole city looks marvelous at night with all the lights. Every skyscraper has its distinctive illuminations from its top and all lighted up at night. And in between is the beautiful white Wrigley chewing gum building and tower.

Night View of the Fair.

By the way today is Father’s day here. Do we have that in Germany too? I do not seem to remember it.

Knowing that we have yahrzeit on Tuesday, I went alone to Synagogue. We talked about the fact that the 11 months of mourning [for Trudel’s mother] were over on May 15th. The temple I visited is just the way I like it. Very simple beautiful colored windows and the service very much like ours. Of course at first it seemed very strange. Men, without hats, and women sit together. The rabbi just in a black suit nothing on his head. But even so he delivered a beautiful sermon. And I understood almost everything. In this congregation are very many German Jews. It seems they have only Reform, mostly German or Orthodox East European Congregations . Nothing in between.

Right now we have a big thunderstorm and of course I am thinking of you, Doddo. Last night we went to a dance at the Chicago Gesang Verein. Rose’s father [Mr. Koesterlitz?], my new Opa, and a darling niece of his from Leipzig came with us. Herta Kant, the niece is here 7 yrs and expects her mother to come here in the fall. I think we will get together more often. Almost all Aryans again, of course, except the president Max Hirsch. I was dancing constantly. Even Opa with his 67 yrs only sat out 2 dances.

He will do anything I ask him. If I would like to go anywhere I should just call him. He will take me. He had asked a younger man to come along last nigh so I could meet him but he did not show up. Some other time maybe. I never met any one like this fellow. He can entertain a group of people for hours but at the same time tries to flirt with every female. Henny, Herta and I were not enough for him. Really a funny person. Otherwise he is very good hearted. The 2 men got almost into a fight to see which one of them could act as my father until the real Papa comes here. We did not get home until 2:00 a.m.

It is now 7:00 p.m. and I have not been out of the house all day. I slept until 11:00 a.m. and then 4:00 p.m. we rearranged the whole apt until the people who were living here with us finally moved this morning so we have much more room for ourselves. Uncle repaired my nightstand lamp and a flat iron so I can use it. Today I talked to Aunt Jenny Weil who sends regards.

I also had a letter from Willy Bloser. He got the wrong phone # from Mr. Heinzheimer and by the time he finally got the right # I had left N.Y. 3 hrs earlier. Too bad. I also had a letter from Doris. I would be very much interested to know how long it takes for my letters to get to you. I sure hope you save them for me. If it does not cost too much postage I wish you could send me my school report cards etc. Also the black jet dress Auntie could probably use. Anything you do not use or want anymore you can send here. Either we use it, throw it away or sell it. I am very happy to report that I have lost 3 lbs already. It is just complicated to recalculate everything. That’s all now.

Love and kisses.
Regards from Henny and Julius.

[The “aluminum” train Trudel refers to was probably the stainless steel Burlington Zephyr which was a major attraction at the fair. See photos and the information about deluxe facilities on the Pullman cars at]



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Sept. 5, 1934 “I am really lucky. Last week I left my billfold on a counter at Woolworth . . . .”

Sept. 5, 1934 “I am really lucky. Last week I left my billfold on a counter at Woolworth . . . .”

Sept 5th, 1934

To Papa’s birthday I am sending my best wishes. [I am trying to translate my German poetry but can’t.]* Anyhow I hope he is celebrating the day happy and well with the rest of the mishpoche.

Last week nothing special occurred. Henny took off from work for a week. She really needed the rest very much. One evening she picked me up at work and we went to a movie “A Modern Hero.” Then we went to spend the rest of the evening at Grossbergs.

a modern hero

Teasdale and Barthelmess in "A Modern Hero"

The next night we went to the Fair. First to a concert at the Ford Symphony Gardens. Then I invited her to a free Auto Round Trip thru streets all over the world. The road we traveled was paved differently in small sections. Samples from all over all around on one big plaza. Even a sample of the “Bergstrasse.” We drove slowly around that Plaza to be able to see it all. We then went to a village called the Bowery. A copy of the one in N.Y. Do you remember that Papa? They had a nice program — real old town type.

Black Forest Village

Black Forest Village

Then we went to the Black Forest, the most popular and best place this year with excellent dancers on ice. It is such a pleasure to see that ice while it is so hot outside. After 4 days of rain it is thank G’d not so hot anymore. Unfortunately the weather was very bad over Labor day which caused a big loss for the fair.

Aerial View of Villages

Labor day is a big holiday here and the last day of school vacations. Aunt Henny and I were driven by friends to Michigan City on Saturday afternoon. About 3 hrs drive. We went to the beach there and finally after much effort found a room to stay. It must be beautiful there in nice weather. Woods and hills and delightfully quiet all near the lake.

Bathing Beach near Michigan City, Indiana

One can buy or rent a house any size there and either spend the weekends or all summer there. They are real little shacks called “cabins” consisting of 1 room, kitchen and porch all made of wood on the ground floor, and lots of land around it. The space only costs $29 a month. Then of course there are bigger and fancier houses too as high as $200 and more. Since there is very poor transportation one has to have a car to enjoy a place like that.

The friend who drove us there went back to Chicago the same evening. We just took it very easy all day Sunday. But the way home! We took a bus into Michigan City hoping to catch a train home but all the trains were so crowded we could not get in. After trying for over 1 hr to stop a car we finally got a ride with a nice young couple and his sister from Cleveland. As reward for taking us we had them stay with us over night.

On Monday, Labor day, I loafed around the house all day until Opa surprised me and took me to a movie “Operator 13.” A very nice good spy film.

If any movie comes to Ffm [Frankfurt] with Shirley Temple be sure to see it. She is the smartest, nicest little girl. She made very popular the songs “Three little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.” And also “Three Little Piggies went to Market.”

Labor Day 1934

And that just reminds me that after you pay for your admissions at the movies theater the tickets come out of a little slit in front of the cashier behind a little fence and any change you have coming comes down like on a slide into a little container so it’s easy for you to take it. Wish I could explain it a little better.

Yesterday I had a nice letter from Solingen. He is o.k., writes very nice and will write Ernst soon too. Have you seen or heard anything from Stavenhagens lately? I wrote to them 3 times already but have not heard anything from them.

How is Mrs. Bergen? What about your apartment? Why do you not write anything about Alex’s silver leather? I would be very interested. Did you start the [Jewish] New Year o.k. I filled out a form and got a free ticket for the synagogue.

What else is new? I have not heard from you sweet people for 10 days again. How did the apple jam turn out? Weils are sending best regards as always. I have a date with them for next Saturday again.

I am really lucky. Last week I left my billfold on a counter at Woolworth and when I came back one hour later it was still there.

Now Aunt Henny joins me in our very best wishes for Papa on his birthday.

My love and kisses– fast well.

* [I believe the comment that I enclosed in brackets was made when Trudel translated her letters into English. Editor]

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October 5, 1934 “I fell in love with him and his voice although I understood only about ½ of what he said.”

October 5, 1934 “I fell in love with him and his voice although I understood only about ½ of what he said.”

Oct 5th

My Dears,

Please forgive me for not writing for 2 weeks. A lot happened and I had no time to write.

Right now I am sitting in the office of my newest friend and while he is talking to someone else, I am starting this letter on his business stationery.

temple sholom

The Largest Temple in Chicago

Last Saturday I had a very “high” day. In the morning I attended services in the biggest Synagogue here and listened to the wonderful sermon of a really great Rabbi. Then I met Mr. Grossberg — not to be confused with Grossman — as well as Edith’s father and Aunt Henny’s lawyer to talk business.


Skyride over the fair

Mr. Grossberg took me to lunch and then to the fair in beautiful weather, where he let me take a flight in a small balloon like a Zeppelin all over the fair. It was wonderful so high in the air. That 10 min long ride cost $3 per person. Later I met Aunt Henny and went on a sky ride. Also high up like a ride on a bridge in the sky criss-cross above the fairgrounds. It was getting dark by that time and all looked fantastic.

I fell in love with him and his voice

Leonard J. Grossman

I met him!

It was a really beautiful evening. Aunt Henny surprised me after work to pick me up with an umbrella as excuse because it was raining. Actually she wanted me to go with her to meet this new lawyer [Leonard J. Grossman*] because Mr. Grossberg, who has always been her lawyer did not seem to get anywhere with her asking for separation and alimony from Julius. This new lawyer recommended by Mr Hamburger, whom she knew, asked to meet me as a witness.

Well, to tell you the truth I fell in love with him and his voice although I understood only about ½ of what he said. The 4 of us went out for dinner then.

Subway Cafe

Postcard from the Subway Cafe

Did you get my two postal cards? One from the Subway Cafe with Aunt Henny, Alfred Hamburger and my new friend Leonard J. Grossman. The 2nd postcard card was from the Morrison Hotel Terrace Gardens where Mr. Grossman took me on our first date a week later for dinner and dancing. It was an evening long to be remembered and I did not get home until 4:30 a.m.

Terrace Garden, Morrison Hotel

Terrace Garden, Morrison Hotel

Tuesday night I was finally at Samuel’s and we figured out that the grandfather of the Samuel girls and our grandfather Simon Adler must have been cousins. Have not heard from you in 2 weeks but this time you are excused because of the moving.

Leonard J. Grossman

Leonard J. Grossman

Love to all of you,

[Editor’s note: My father’s name was Leonard Jacob Grossman. I am named after him, but my name is Leonard Albert Grossman. Future mentions of “Leonard” in Trudel’s letters refer to my father.]


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

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

Oct 12, 1934 9:00 p.m.

My dear, dear ones.

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

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

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

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

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

Next Monday is another hearing in Court.**



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

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

temple sholom

Temple Sholom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Bergner

Elizabeth Bergner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civic Opera Building

Civic Opera House

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

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


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

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


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February 8, 1935 – I always find things to talk and write about.

February 8, 1935 –  I always find things to talk and write about.

Feb 8, 1935

Beloved Adölfchen — I mean my dear Papa, and dear Lazy Sisters,

Today I am going to write on the typewriter for a change. Do you know I have not had a word from you two girls. I do not know if you are interested but I always find things to talk and write about.

Let’s see what happened this week. Saturday I was all afternoon at Weils. For lunch we had lentil soup and sausage, the first time since I am here–now 8 months. After we ate, Aunt Jenny showed me old pictures and we had to hold our tummies we were laughing so hard. For supper we had boiled chicken and rice and several vegetables. For dessert they served delicious homemade cake. If I would eat with them more often I would really gain a lot of weight.


The Weils

After dinner Alice made some delicious candy and I ate quite a bit of that too and took some home with me.

Leonard is right now extremely busy. Next month we have an election for mayor of the city and Leonard is working for the 1st woman ever running for that office.

Sunday nothing special going. Sleep very late, read the paper, very late dinner or supper as they call it here. Working crossword puzzle, crocheting, playing slot machines (and losing money) in the lobby of the Hotel Devonshire where Leonard lives. Early to bed.

Grace Gray Story from the Reading Times

Click for full story

Monday–only work from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Before work walking around downtown and finally bought a map of Chicago, which I will mail to you next week. Had dinner with the people in the house, worked on some hats and went early to sleep.

Tuesday–no work. So I stayed home all day in miserable weather working on hats for Gwen, Aunt Henny and myself. I also found time to straighten some drawers, washing, ironing, sewing, darning all things that were really very necessary.

Worlds Fair Map


Wednesday we worked but short hours again. In the evening I was again at Gwen Bishop’s and stayed overnight. Thursday evening after work I visited Aunt Henny and brought her her new summer hats. Unfortunately they were not exactly right and they had to make the trip to the North Side again.

Can you imagine this: Julius Seckbach visited her last Saturday and begged her to get together with him again. He wanted to take a place with a kitchen and was going to take care of her! Do you agree that he is meshuga?


The Weils

Yesterday, Friday night I was again at Weils. At my special wish they had bouillon soup with matzo klos, (matzah balls) even Liss would have enjoyed it. It was so delicious that after the 2nd serving we really did not have to eat anything else. But they served soup meat and creamed spinach as I like it. Not just cooked leaves as they serve it here. It sounds almost as if I would not eat decently otherwise, but the Weils keep a good German-Jewish kitchen–it just tastes so very good to me. Like at home.

I almost forgot to mention the dessert. Breadcake with wine sauce. But I got strawberry Jello instead.

After dinner Aunt Jenny took me to the synagogue in their neighborhood and she introduced me to the very nice Rabbi. The service was very similar to what I am used to. I understood most of the sermon and the songs were mostly like the West End Synagogue in Frankfurt. I expect to go there more often in the future.

West End Synagogue

West End Synagogue Ffm

Yesterday I talked to Mrs. Greenfelder (sister in law of Mr. Stern) on the phone. She is going to Florida next week.

This morning I went to Saks 5th Ave., where she took me once [to look for work], but as I expected they were not busy at all yet. The department head took my address and phone number and will call me if they need help.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

This afternoon I went to see our designer. She lives in what is called the Ghetto. She is very nice and is asking a big favor of you. She was for 10 yrs in a Jewish boarding school in Hanover and would like to know if it still is in existence and who is running it.

She also was for 2 yrs in Ffm. with a family [named] Lewin. He was a jeweler, on Uhlend Str. She is French. Her little 13 yr old girl’s name is Elschen. Do you know anybody like that? She also would like to find a Heinrich Heringer with 1 glass eye, and an Abraham Ullman, both about 30 yrs old.

All of a sudden I am so tired I cannot see straight anymore.

NordDeutcher Lloyd

NordDeutcher Lloyd

Hopefully I will hear or see something from the 2 “ladies” before too long. Did you know that you can get a round trip ticket on NordDeutcher Lloyd for only $75. Isn’t that cheap?

Next time I will write by hand again. It looks like much more and still much faster. Next week I will be away from home 9 months.

Uncountable Kisses from your loving sister.


Grace Gray ran in the Chicago’s Republican mayoral primary in 1935.

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