Category Archives: Letters

March 23, 1937 – I Arrived in Sumter a week ago and don’t know where to start writing.

March 23, 1937 – I Arrived in Sumter a week ago and don’t know where to start writing.

3/23 Sumter
Arrived here one week ago and do not know where to start writing.

Trudel and Madge

Trudel and Madge

Leonard’s sister looks very much like him. She is four years younger. We get along just great. Her husband, Raymon, is also a lawyer. The daughter, Edith, 15 ½ years old is a darling and their 12 year old son (Ramon) is very nice and well behaved.

After my arrival we had a fabulous dinner and then I unpacked and retired early, and slept late the next day.

Edith Schwartz

Edith Schwartz

Madge and I talked all day together, whatever she was doing or wherever we were. In the evening, Friday night, Mrs. Schwartz, Ray’s mother, and a cousin came to welcome me.

Ray’s ancestors were with the first Jews who settled here in the South and he is very proud of it although they all are Christian Scientists now. But he still goes with his mother to a synagogue on the holidays.

Raymon Schwartz

Raymon Schwartz

Besides having some visitors on Saturday, we went in the afternoon to a bridge-tea at their country club. In the evening in evening dress to a formal dinner party. Sunday we dove to another small town to pick up Aunt Dora Sonn (at the train) from Miami, Florida. The first wife of her husband was a sister of Leonard’s mother. Monday Aunt Dora and I went for a walk in the morning and in the afternoon we went shopping.

Right now it is very warm. I am glad I brought some real lightweight summer dresses. Monday afternoon the three Welch’s arrived. They drove here and brought along Aunt Flora, who is the most loved member of the family, also a sister of Leonard’s mother who actually lives in Indianapolis. We had a nice, leisurely family evening.

Ramon Schwartz

Ramon Schwartz

Next day we all piled into 2 cars and drove to Charleston SC, one of the oldest and very European towns in the south. First stop: Cypress Gardens. An enormous park with ancient cypress trees, a little creek running between gorgeous all color flowers. Much too beautiful to describe.

Next stop: Magnolia Gardens. While the other place was very quiet and relaxing, this place is so bright and colorful and exciting. Giant azaleas, magnolias, Japanese trees, etc. Took a lot of pictures and Ray filmed.
In the evening we had 50 young boys and girls ages 15-16 here in the house for my niece Edith and her cousin Louis Welch, both are about the same age.

Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens

Yesterday, we were visiting another beautiful garden, originated by a sculptor, with many of his and his wife’s figures all through the place, with beautiful flowers and bushes and trees all around. Afterward, the 10 of us drove to a beach at the Atlantic Ocean.
Unfortunately we did not have enough time to go into the water.

In the afternoon we visited the studio of a lady who does beautiful drawings and engravings. After showing us some of her best work, a very famous poetess read some of her poetry for us. It was very interesting and nice.

Supper we had at Ray’s mother and two more cousins came. Afterwards Ray showed us several homemade movies. To end the day I dressed up Ramon as a girl and myself with slacks and a man’s hat, while Edith and Louis sang a song, partly English partly French, we two kind of acted it out. Of course since it was unrehearsed it was very funny.

Magnolia Gardens

Magnolia Gardens

Welches left this morning and now I find a little time to write. Hopefully Ray will co-sign some of my papers. So far we did not have time to even talk about you girls’ visas to come here.

Your Trudelchen

In the last sentence of the letter, Trudel mentions their intention to ask the Schwartzes about helping to get visas for her sisters. In a poignant letter written to her family on March 16, 1937, LJG discusses the problems.I have attached the orignal letter as a PDF file. Click on the link below.

LJG letter-3-16-1937

Note: Raymon was my father’s brother-in-law and my uncle. Twelve year old, Ramon is my cousin but because of the age differences, I always called him “Uncle Ray.” My brother Raymon is named for both of them. [Leonard Grossman, One of Trudel’s sons.]

New Film from Trudel’s Sumter Trip.

Since posting this letter, my cousin, Al Schwartzenberg, found film of Trudel visiting Cypress Gardens, Magnolia Gardens, and the Camden Polo Grounds, which Trudel doesn’t mention in the letter. I have had the film transferred to DVD and uploaded it to Youtube. Special thanks to Barbara Burchstead for identifying the locations in this film and some of the people in it.


Posted by on March 23, 1937 in immigrant experience, Letters


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Jan 23, 1937 “Hope I have answered all of your letters.”

Jan 23, 1937  “Hope I have answered all of your letters.”

[I have discovered a couple of letters that were not posted in order. Here, from January, 1937 is is the first of them. Later it will appear in the correct place in the order of letters but for convenience here is a link to the letters that appeared before it in January, 1937. LAG]

Jan 23 ‘37
Hope I answered all your letters. Now I have a whole big stack of mail to be answered.

I bought some black wool material and will have a winter coat made from it. Madge, my sister-in-law, sent me a lovely watch for my birthday. It is to be worn on the lapel of a suit.

Have gone to bed very late every night this week.

Monday I finished a hat for a friend, Tuesday as usual with Trudel Batzner, Wednesday delivered a hat to friends and had dinner with them, and the 4 of us went to a movie, and then back to their house for something more to eat.

Trudel Batzner

Trudel Batzner

Thursday met a niece of Engelbert Hriss with whom I had been trying to get together for one year.

Leonard had to go to a political meeting and Trudel B, that girl [the niece of Englebert Hriss] and I visited together until midnight. Last night, Friday, Aunt Flora, Leonard’s favorite aunt who lives in Indianapolis, was here in town and invited us for dinner. She was staying with Leonard’s cousin on the far south side, all wonderful people.

I took home a couple of hats to be remodeled. Glad to have a good reason to go there again. Since his divorce, Leonard had withdrawn from all his relatives and friends. He wanted all of them to be friends with his ex-wife and daughter and he did not care about himself.



The price for hosiery is between $0.65 and $1.25. But in the summer I wear only knee hose which is about 35 cents a pair. Besides I wear a lot of “footlings.”

Ernale please write me a letter describing exactly what you do at work, in English. Maybe Aunt Flora can help find a job for you here.


Trudel Batzner (later Nachmann) became my mother’s closest friend and they remained close the rest of their lives. Oddly, there is no account of their first meeting in any of Trudel’s letters. LAG


Posted by on January 23, 1937 in immigrant experience, Letters


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January 8, 1937 “Trudelchen gets such happiness out of your letters.”

January 8, 1937  “Trudelchen gets such happiness out of your letters.”

January 8th 1937

My dear Father and dear Sisters Lotte and Erna:

Trudelchen gets such happiness out of your letters – she just lights up, and her eyes dance whenever she hears from you – your letters make her happier than anything – and I enjoy them too. I must admit she makes them clearer to me when she reads them to me – for I have forgotten so much of my German that I learned as a student.

I am more in love with precious Trudel every day . . .

But I have a surprise for you. You can never guess – so I’ll tell you. I am more in love with precious Trudel every day in every way! She is so wholesome, so genuine, so fine. We are very happy together. I have just read her letter – or should I say her book – that we are enclosing with this. How many pages she writes, and since I have read it all just now, I must say there is little more for me to add to what she has written.

How wonderful it would be . . .

Business has not been good, but that was no reason to postpone our happiness. We get out of our love, pleasure and life what money can not buy. So we are rich with each other – without money. How wonderful it would be – if things would just get better, and I could help bring you here. But one thing at a time. With God’s help, the things we all want in life will come in their rightful time.



Should you ask me how Trudel looked Sylvester Abend – I would answer you – There was no lovelier, more beautiful little woman in the country. Trudel was radiant in her metal cloth evening gown and red velvet jacket and cape, and Mrs. Olive McDonnell with us in Blue velvet gown and cape was also lovely. Mr. McDonnell said his wife was the prettiest woman in town. I agreed, that was why I imported Trudel I told him. And beauty is as beauty does, and Trudel does everything beautifully.

A Happy New Year to each of you, in which Trudel joins,


Affectionately your son and brother Leonard

  • Erna and Lotte are Trudel’s sisters. They remained in Germany for several years when she came to the United States.
  • LJG refers to the letter Trudel wrote on January 7, 1937, which was posted in this blog on the anniversary of that date.
  • “Sylvester Abend” is New Years Eve.

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January 7, 1937 – “It was the most wonderful New Years Eve ever.”

January 7, 1937  – “It was the most wonderful New Years Eve ever.”

January 7, 1937

Starting this letter before my husband comes home for dinner, trying to answer your last 4 letters.

Also I gave up my “business” because it was costing too much. I intend to continue making hats here in our 1 room at the Devonshire Hotel.

Room at Devonshire

Our 1 Room at the Devonshire

I even started working again for C-R where I stopped in to just say “hello” and they asked me if I would like to come back to work.

Of course it is better to earn some money instead of playing cards or something and losing money. All I did for the last 4 weeks is moving and I am glad I will have now regular hours again.


C-R Millinery Co

Ernale’s English gets better with every letter. Keep it up. Leonard is so happy when he can read and understand your letters by himself.

Devonshire Hotel

Devonshire Hotel

Can you keep the letters I write you for a little longer? I would very much like to have them since they are like a diary, but really have no room for them until we move to a bigger place, which we intend to do soon.

[Continued after dinner.]

We finished some duck which we had at Bill Thompson last night. He has a friend who raises fowl on his roof.

Aunt Henny sent us a big box of grapefruit and oranges and Leonard’s sister sent a shoebox full of nuts.

Big Bill

Big Bill Thompson

Hope you started the new year OK. For me it was the most wonderful NY Eve ever. We left our room at 10:30, I in my beautiful brocade dress from 2 years ago and Leonard in a tuxedo, which was awfully tight on him.

First we stopped in the bar here in the hotel and had 2 drinks with some friends in the building. Then we went downtown in a hotel where we had dates with various friends. It was terribly crowded. Then we went to the Morrison Hotel, where I had my 1st date with Leonard, but did not stay because they asked for $6.50 each just to sit down.

We met some friends and the 6 of us went to a very big nightclub where I had not been before. We saw 2 very wonderful floor shows and at 4:00 a.m. we ate breakfast there. At 6:30 a.m. we met our friends again, in our hotel bar. At 8:00 a.m. we went to another place but I had only 1 cup of coffee.

When we came home we ate some herring and bread and butter and finally went to bed at 10:15 a.m. I felt so good, although I had about 18 drinks in 12 hours, that I would have liked to go skiing. But too warm, no snow, no skis.




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December 17, 1936 A love letter from Trudel’s husband to her family.

December 17, 1936  A love letter from Trudel’s husband to her family.

Letter typewritten on Leonard’s letterhead

Dec. 17th, 1936

Lieber Papa, Doddo and Erna:

Wir haben es gethan! Wir sind Verheiratet, but it is so much more natural for me to love and cherish my Adored Trudel and tell you what I think of the Adler* under the American Eagle, in English. I am a lucky fellow, and all my friends join in approving of my precious Trudel.


My Dear Father . . . .

What is so rare as a perfect Love? Not a gilded lily or a crimson rose with thorns, but a Violet, modest forget-me-not of the Garden of Life, with blushing sweetness and poise, eyes dancing with a new light as we were pronounced man and wife, this is a word picture of OUR Trudel for she belongs to me now, tho before Dec. 5 she was yours not mine.

Radiant, gorgeous, lovely Trudel, on our wedding day told me her thoughts were with you, as mine were, and both our thoughts were with our Angel Mothers, May God rest their souls in peace. I know my own Mother would love Trudel for her fine wholesome qualities.

Mother’s sister writes to my own sister beautifully about Trudel after a visit with her, and my darling baby sister, years older than Trudel, is already in love with Trudel tho they have never met, but we are invited to make the trip, down to Sumter South Carolina when and if we can get away, to visit my sister and her lovely family.

For a long time we have looked forward to the day. We could not until conditions got better, take the step, we thought. How foolish. Everything is better from the moment we got married. The world loves a lover, and we are loved by some good friends, and they all think I am to be congratulated on my beautiful and wonderful bride. So may I thank you, dear Papa, who gave her to me, and you dear sisters, for the newest happiness in my life, and my greatest love – Trudel.


With Love to you all, Leonard

“Adler” means “eagle” in English.


Posted by on December 17, 1936 in Chicago, family, immigrant experience, Letters


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