Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friday Apr 4

Visited Clara at hospital
and Max Breindel,

Max is really besides
a relative a good friend
He is not like some
others of the family


Matt's Notes

As noted in a previous post, Max Breindel is the man who met Papa and his sitter Nettie at Ellis Island when they first arrived from the old country. Max also invited them to stay in his apartment, where they shared a bed with his children, sleeping head-by-toe, until they could find a place of their own. Papa always recalled this as a great, adventurous time in his life, and I think his kind words about Max reveal his ongoing gratitude. (Check out the Lower East Side Tenement Museum's tenement tour to get a better idea of what their living quarters must have been like.)

I don't know whom Papa refers to when he says "some others of the family" are not as good as Max, but it's about as harsh a statement as he ever makes. Perhaps he means his brother Isaac, the previous recipient of a disapproving nod for pressuring Papa from the old country for money. I also know his sisters Nettie and Clara didn't get along, so I wonder if Nettie earned a demerit for some kind of misbehavior or lack of interest while Clara was in hospital with her newborn son.

I'm also trying to figure out if it was unusual back then for an immigrant woman to stay in the hospital for so long after giving birth (it's been eight days now). Papa had expressed surprise at how early his nephew was born, so maybe there was some sort of medical complication. Then again, a week or more might have been a normal post-childbirth stay in 1924; as always, if anyone reading this knows a little more, please post a comment or send an e-mail.

1 comment:

  1. As late as the 1940's, a normal delivery meant two weeks in the hospital. Said my mother, "after three or four days, they'd let you sit up and dangle your legs off the bed." So -- immigrant or not -- if a woman actually went to the hospital to have her child, her doctor would keep her there.

    It wasn't until after WWII that the medical world realized that getting out of bed was better for the new mothers.