Saturday, May 19, 2007

Monday May 19

Ran around this evening
to find and attending woman
for Nettie


Matt's Notes

I'm not sure why it fell to Papa to find a nursemaid for his sister Nettie and her newborn son, but I suppose he was the best candidate since Nettie's husband Phil didn't speak much English and Clara, Papa's other sister in New York, was busy with her own baby and didn't have such a great relationship with Nettie, anyway.

While Papa's willingness to help out Nettie wasn't odd, this day's circumstances certainly were -- Papa still hadn't told Nettie about their father's recent death for fear of taxing her delicate, postpartum constitution. As he "ran around" that evening in search of her attendant, did he think about when he'd tell her, how he'd tell her, mouth the words as he rehearsed them in his head?

In any event, I expect it was pretty easy and relatively inexpensive for Papa to hire Nettie's attendant ("I'm 100% sure that Papa paid for everything," says my mother, adding "Poor guy, everyone depended on him.") His neighborhood would have been full of women who were qualified midwives and nursemaids, since many Eastern European Jewish immigrants of the early 1920's still adhered to the at-home birthing traditions of the old country (hospital births, while not a new innovation, wouldn't be considered de rigueur in the immigrant Jewish community for many more years.) 1 Papa probably found someone just by knocking on a few doors or getting a recommendation from one of the landsmanshaftn.



1 - "Modern Obstetrics and Working-Class Women: The New York Midwifery Dispensary, 1890-1920" by Nancy Schrom Dye. Journal of Social History, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Spring, 1987), pp. 549-564

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