Tag Archives: working

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

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

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

Jan 10, 1935

Dear Goldkinder,

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

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


Cafe Hauptwache

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

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

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

Postcard from Saalburg

An Old Postcard from Saalburg

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

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

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

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


Gwen Bishop's Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hauptmann Lindbergh Trial Headline

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

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

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

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

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

Love Trudel


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

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

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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.

Image sources:



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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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March 24, 1935 – “I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more.”

March 24, 1935 – “I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more.”


My Dear Ones:

Last night I started answering your dear letter dated 3/8. Since I forgot to take with me today yours and the letter I started, I shall answer it next week.

I was quite busy all week. As a result I did not do a lot of things.

Last Sunday evening I met a few more nice people, then we went to an excellent chicken dinner and then home. Monday night I was at Aunt Henny’s and we played Rummy for a change. Auntie’s nice friend, who had driven us to Michigan City, happened to drop in and since he lives in my neighborhood, I got a ride home in his car.

Tuesday I worked at Miss Cooper’s. I am afraid I have to give that up. It is too much for me to work from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, with only twice one hour intermission.

Wednesday, I had dinner with Mrs. Sanders and then finished the skirt I was crocheting for Gwen. I tacked it to my floor and steamed it so it would have the right shape. It looks very nice and I am anxious to see next week how it looks on Gwen. The sweater I had to take home again since I made the sleeves too tight. Hopefully I will have it ready by next Wednesday.

RCA Radio

RCA Radio

Thursday I had dinner with Saunders again. For $5 I bought their old radio for Leonard’s room. Naturally I went to his room right away and connected it. This is very easy here. You just plug the cord into a wall outlet. He was very pleased with it.

I worked all week at “Gages” but realized that I could not work there for long. Maybe if I had started there before the start of the season, somebody could have shown and explained some things to me.

Now that everyone was very busy they had no time for me. I learned some things differently. When I followed the sample exactly, they wanted some changes made which I did not understand. If something was 2 millimeters different the whole thing had to be ripped. That is no good for me. I cannot make any money that way. I think I would go nuts.

Gage Building

Gage Building

Anyways for the 2 days of the first week I got $6.40 while at the old job at Lipper I got only $6.21 for 3 days’ work. Well, to make my story short, on Friday morning I finished a hat I had started, took my belongings and explained to the manager that I was not good enough for them, and left. I did learn a lot while I was there and will get paid for it. I left there at 9:00 am and for the first time in eight months was without a job. But I just could not worry about it.

It was such a beautiful spring day that I would not let anything upset me.

First I went 2 floors higher, in the same building, to see Marie Bing. She was very sorry that she could not hire me. We just visited for ½ hour. Then I went to see 2 school friends of Leonard whose address I got last Sunday.

Friday is the worst day to go job hunting

Friday is the worst day to go job hunting. They want all to finish as much as possible. I did talk to 1 of his friends and the manager. They took my address; “Maybe next week.” Then I went several floors down to a place where I knew somebody too. “Maybe next week.” Then I went across the street where Budwig had opened again: “Maybe next week.” Then I went to another place where I had been a few months ago. “Maybe next week.”

So I went to Mss Cooper to get some more addresses. When I came to the first one it turned out to be the company I had been looking for all morning.

They wanted me to start immediately. But since it was 11:30am they told me to eat lunch and come back afterwards. So I worked there Friday 1:00 to 6:30 pm. They manufacture similar junk as at Lippers, but better than not having any work at all. I sure am lucky!

Friday night I was at Samuels again. I invited myself for Friday nights there for the future. It is always so nice and restful at their home. Of course I always do some sewing and fixing for them when I am there.

At 10:30, we all piled into 2 cars to drive downtown. A cousin and his wife were here for 1 week and we took them to the bus to go back to NY. Afterwards the 8 of us went for ice cream and I was driven home at midnight. You can believe that I really slept well that night.

And now comes the best. Yesterday I received a letter from the company of Leonard’s friends that I should start there Monday morning at 8:30 am. Of course I will be there, work 1 day and see which job I like better. How do you like that? Now I have to choose which I like better!


Click image for YouTube

Anyway I like changing jobs. At each place I learn more. No 2 work exactly alike and I sure have learned a lot.

Yesterday I was home all day. I really had laundry to do, darn socks, sewing and mending etc. At 7:00 pm I picked up Leonard at the office and after eating we went to see a movie. Wallace Beery and Adolph Menjou in “The Mighty Barnum” — very good.

On the way home we both caught colds. It was beautiful and warm all day. When we left the movie house it suddenly got very cold. The weather really changes often very fast. Sine it was raining and cold all day today we only went to eat together. Now we are sitting in his hotel lobby. Leonard fell asleep while reading the paper so I may write a few more letters. For today I send you millions of greetings and kisses.

Your Lucky Trudel

PS How are Hedwig and children? Please give her my best regards and good wishes for a speedy recovery. I may write to her yet tonight.

PPS regards to all friends especially Liss.

Chicago was a center for the wholesale milinery business in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Gage Bros., was one of he most successful. The story of the “Gage Group,” a set of buildings built for Gage and two other hat manfuacturers on Michigan Avenue is part of Chicago’s architectural history. See also this excerpt from Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago department store By Joseph Siry. Click forward for several pages on the Google Books site to put the story in context.

This group of buildings was just a bock away from the Garland and Pittsfiled Buildings on opposite corners of Washington and Wabash where Trudel looked for work in her previous letter.


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