Saturday, July 14, 2007

Monday July 14

Saw Clara this evening,
It seems that I lost my
interest in her as far as love
is concerned.

I visited today the new
place where I am going
to work, it's a fine place
as long as I have still to work
for others this is not a bad
place, if the employer would
only realize my value and
raise my salary, I'd be more


Matt's Notes

Papa seems to be well-acquainted with "Clara," or at least he's known her long enough to compare his past and present feelings about her, but I'm not sure who she is. She's obviously not his sister Clara, nor do I think she's the distressingly skinny woman he ran into back in April ("...on my way to work I met C. How different she looks now, She lost weight and looks bad").

If Clara is a character from Papa's diary, she could be the woman he met through a matchmaker on July 2nd and deemed "worthy of love." If so, his lack of interest in her now doesn't surprise me, since from the outset he saw her as an abstraction, an applicant with the right "qualifications" through whom he might end his "bachelor days," but also an inaccessibly ideal representation of womanhood who might be too good-looking and refined for "a man of [his] nature." Papa's tendency to idealize women, only to be disappointed when they turned out to be flawed humans, is well-known to us by now. We also know this tendency toward idealization would, as Papa matured, mellow into a more useful capacity to see good things in people. I think this helped him cultivate the forgiving, gentle and comforting nature those of us who knew him found so striking.

Meanwhile, Papa has revealed for the first time that he's going to be starting a new job shortly, which surprises me since he just got a $5 raise few months ago. Perhaps he's just starting in a new factory owned by the same boss, or maybe his factory has moved to a new location. In any event, I'm trying to figure out how much Papa would have earned as a machine operator in the 1920's; we know, thanks to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, that the going rate was around $15 a week in the in the early 1900's and 1910's. Even if Papa's experience and labor affiliation had him earning a bit more than that, we get a good sense of how hard it must have been for him to live in New York and still send money back to the old country.

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