Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saturday Sept 13

Another meeting at 2nd

Sent home to mother $20
for which took $5 each from
Nettie and Clara.


Yes Nettie and Clara want to
see me married, and they are
using every effort to find a pretty
wife, just as if I'd be lacking


Matt's Notes

Papa's diary entries often raise questions about which we can only speculate, but this one answers a few I've been wondering about for a while:

1 - Was the first district of the Zionist Organization of America still in trouble?

Looks like it was. Earlier in the year, Papa had put a lot of work into recruiting new members for the first district, or chapter, of the Z.O.A., but the results weren't so good. While he implied the first district's continued existence when he described a meeting of the "three downtown districts" a few weeks ago, he hasn't mentioned the first district by name in a while. Most of his recent Z.O.A. activities have revolved around the third district and, in this entry, the second, so I get the feeling the Z.O.A. had either shut down the first district or had decided to let it die on the vine.

2 - Was Papa solely responsible for sending money back to the old country?

Papa supported his sister Clara when she first came to America several years earlier, and more recently helped Nettie, his other sister in New York, with at least one financial problem. (He paid for her husband's English lessons at "The Success School" and wound up eating the tuition when the schoolmaster turned out to be a scumbag.) I've often wondered, in light of these histories, whether Clara and Nettie ever kicked in when Papa sent money back to Sniatyn.

Today's entry shows they did, though it may have been a rare occurrence since $20 was an unusually large amount for Papa to wire overseas -- he may have been reacting to some kind of desperate message, emergency or angry demand (his European relatives often complained about what he sent back home) and, since he had already gone into debt to pay for his father's funeral expenses back in May, had no choice but to swallow his pride and ask Nettie and Clara for help. I imagine he didn't feel too happy about it.

3 - Did Papa realize how much women liked him?

Papa's diary is full of longing, loneliness and accounts of his inability to connect with women, but it also depicts an unending flow of dates, romantic encounters and infatuations, many of which he doesn't even bother to discuss at length. There's no reason to think all this activity would make him feel any less alone, especially since we know his failure to find love was rooted deep, personal and complex burdens that he was only now starting to shake.

Still, I have wondered if he even realized how many women he had in his life or if he considered himself an eligible bachelor. This passage provides an answer, and in it Papa even seems a bit cocky in the way he gently pokes fun at his sisters' efforts to find him a date "as if [he'd] be lacking girls." He knew he was responsible for his own loneliness, then, and he knew he was responsible for fixing it, as well.

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