Wednesday, September 24, 2008

October 11, 1929 - New York City


[this is a pre-printed card]

To Jeanie Dear:

From the dawn of this day
until the sun's sinking,
Each moment, Sweetheart of you
I'll be thinking;

Just as I always do, day after day,
Loving you always, dear,
just the same way;

Wishing you all that you're
wishing-and more
And hoping the future
has blessing in store.

Harry A Scheuermann


Matt's Notes

Let’s get the cosmetic details out of the way first: This 1929 Rosh Hashana (a.k.a. Jewish New Year) card is made of pink cardboard, has a matching pink envelope, and is addressed to 226 Hart Street in Brooklyn. (As Papa alluded to his last letter, my grandmother's family had once lived at 183 Hart Street. I'm not sure when they moved, though I do know that Papa was sending letters to 183 as late as 1926.) Its flower illustration and the words "TO MY SWEETHEART" are stitched into a light sheet of gauze and glued into a cutout in the front cover, the bottom of which displays the words "A Happy New Year" in both English and Hebrew.  The pre-printed poem, and Papa's handwritten salutation and signature, appear on pink paper glued inside the cover, while the back cover informs us the card was, oddly, made in France.

Coincidentally, it’s the morning before Rosh Hashana, 2008, as I write about this card, which is the next and final piece of 1929 correspondence I’ve got from Papa.* An off-the-shelf card, however French and beribboned, seems a rather impersonal and anticlimactic way to conclude his correspondence for the year, especially because his last two letters, written just after he found my grandmother with another boyfriend, fairly tremble with all the anger and frustration he felt over her indifference towards his five years of courtship.

What had happened in the intervening three weeks? Had Papa finally given up? Had he stopped putting energy into his letters? Had he foresworn his lengthy romantic declarations and transcriptions of canonical love poems? Stay tuned for 1930.


*If you’re wondering why Rosh Hashana could fall on October 11th in 1929 and on September 29th in 2008, remember that Jewish religious holidays follow the ancient Hebrew calendar and are therefore out of synch with the modern-day Gregorian calendar.  Here ends my scholarship on this subject, though I do know one other thing: my grandmother, whose clockwork tendency to point out whether the holidays were “early this year” or “late this year” remains a joke in my family, surely thought Rosh Hashana was “late” in 1929.

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