“General” Winter

Monday, Sept. 14, 1942

"Old Man Winter," Carl Sendal's Editorial Cartoon, p. 12

“Old Man Winter,” Carl Sendal’s Editorial Cartoon, p. 12

The first big difference between home and the Midwest for my mother may have been the fervor with which the GOP bashed Roosevelt. The front page of today’s  Chicago Tribune reported Governor Dwight H. Green was mobilizing a campaign to take back Congress from the Democrats. For Jews especially, it was chilling to contemplate a government that might take a less aggressive stance against Hitler. Meanwhile, the Russians stood their ground at a huge cost and waited for their natural ally, winter, to lend them a hand against the Nazis. Beware General Winter, they warned the Nazis.

At home, my father was still reeling from his mother’s reaction to the marriage. Part of the problem was certainly the secrecy with which the plans had been made.  Although he had kept his mother in the dark, his sister was an accomplice. On Aug. 13, my father wrote advising my mother to go with his sister to pick out a ring if she wished or to wait until they were both back East in November. “As far as the rationale of our relationship – to the landlord, maids, and my friends, we were married back East – It just couldn’t be done any other way – They don’t even rent apartments to single men out here.”

When he didn’t get a response in due time, he wrote, “Do you realize it was ten days since your last letter, and my hair was coming out in big bunches.. If you only knew the depths of despair I had fallen into by the time your letter came… I had a fistful of change ready to call you today if no letter came and if there was no answer to the phone call, I was all ready and all arrangements were made to take the train East… If you only knew how my imagination ran riot in the last few days, how many sleepless night were passed and how often I have been to the Post Office and hour before opening time… I thought of everything from death to marriage and birth and back –don’t ever do it again, darling. Next time I’ll surely burst a blood vessel..or something.”

He reminded her that the offer of the ring “was to give you confidence and to stave off a multitude of inquiring glances.”

My mother had been away and came home to a pile of letters. Her response on Aug. 24 was a dash of cold water. “I just got back to your six letters… I guess you’ve pegged the problem because the success or failure of our trial period must depend on my bias in the first place… If I knew by instinct or by any other method that we shouldn’t marry, I’d stay right here and wild bulls wouldn’t turn my face to Chicago… But such is not the case. I’m not sure whether I love you or not but I’m unshakably certain about the kind of guy you are and I have a definite pull in your direction… And so, without a clear idea of why, I’m coming to Chicago. Believe me, I am not aware of what the conclusion will be.. I am coming prepared to understand you, to help you understand me, to build a companionship, to stimulate you and be proud of you. If that is acceptable to you, I’ll feel that neither of us is making concessions or risking anything. Let us be prepared for failure and hopeful for success. What do I mean by success? That I become your wife.”

As for a ring: “I decided to let all of that follow rather than precede my stay in Chicago” but “Yes, my dear, I’ll bring everything I can to back up the investment of time.” She would take the Pacemaker and arrive on a Sunday.

My father was ecstatic: “Go straight through to Chicago. I’ll be waiting at the station. Eat a light breakfast on the train – just coffee – because I’ll have a real breakfast ready for you at home. After breakfast I’ll guess you’ll want to take a shower and go to bed for a few hours. I don’t suppose we’ll do much Sunday – just sort of look around the neighborhood and get acquainted with some friends… I’m so happy I could do anything and everything – get a shoe rack, tie rack, find out where the tennis courts are, try to get some coffee, arrange for milk, a telephone, salt, sugar, bacon, eggs, etc.” And “Tonight I’m going to kneel by the bed and pray. So, until Sunday, I’ll leave you in God’s hands.”



This entry was posted in Jewish life in America during WW II, Music and Media, WWII, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

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