Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Day After

I’m finally getting back to transcribing the letters that my grandparents, Sig and Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy, wrote back and forth between 1917-1919 as they were courting and planning for their wedding.  So much happened in their lives during that time – World War I, deaths, and the influenza pandemic of 1918.  It was a tumultuous time for America.

I have shared a little of their thoughts and will continue to do that as I complete the project.  However, after transcribing close to 200 letters from Loraine to Sig (with about 20 to go), I just learned from one of her letters that she had over 230 letters that Sig had written to her so I know I have really only scratched the surface. 

When we cleaned out my parents’ storage unit 4 years ago, I stumbled upon these letters and threw (yes, threw) them in a big black garbage bag and took them home.  I’ve sorted them by author, by recipient, and then put them in date order.  I’m certain I’m missing more than a few but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

As I’m winding down the first set of letters (from Loraine to Sig) I’ve come across a few random letters from various people.

To catch you up, a few years ago I wrote about Sig asking Loraine’s parents for permission to marry their only daughter – you can read that here.  And then a few weeks later I shared some of the letters of congratulations they received – you can read that here

And today brought the surprise of the letter that Loraine’s mother, Bertha (Schwartz) Gunzendorfer, wrote to Sig and Loraine the day after their wedding.  Which based on the handwriting, has confirmed for me who wrote the letter back to Sig giving permission to marry their daughter.

Letter from Bertha p1

Letter from Bertha p2

Letter from Bertha p3

Letter from Bertha p4

[my comments included]

Monday aft

My dear Children:

Just came in & before getting ready to go out to Berkeley to have dinner with Wilt [Loraine’s brother] will drop you a line to tell you that your voices sounded awfully good over the telephone this morn [Loraine talked to her mother on the first morning of married life?].  Was happy to hear you were both O.K. & so happy.  The day has been delightful and I am sure you are enjoying your trip. [I believe they went to Southern California for their honeymoon]

I have had a funny day.  Went over to Aunt Ray’s [Rachel (Letter) Steen, wife of Bertha’s uncle, Samuel Steen] a little after nine this morn and stayed there until almost twelve.  While there Ray Mead Livingston [who?] phoned to me to congratulate us.  Have you her name for an announcement?

Sent away a pile of announcements this morn & will send the rest tomorrow.  Did not see one for Margaret Wright among these. 

Had lunch down town with Milt [her brother, Milton Harry Schwartz] & then we took all the lovely flowers out to the cemetery & covered our darling’s graves with them.  [The cemetery might have been Home of Eternity Cemetery in Oakland or Hills of Eternity in Colma.  I love that they did this!]  Mrs. Glickman [another new name] went with us.  When we came back I bummed around [people “bummed around" in 1919?] with her awhile, then went to Dr. Green’s about my teeth.  [I’ve learned that my family had a lot of trouble with their teeth].  He was so surprised when I told him Loraine was married yesterday.  Had an idea she was a man hater.  [WHAT???]

I feel like I was in a trance myself.  I can’t realize that my dear little girl is a married woman.  I only hope & pray that you will both be supremely happy & follow every day the word of the Rabbi & Uncle Milt.

Everyone said the wedding was a grand success so I feel amply repaid for my trouble.  [Sounds a bit harsh that she felt the need to be “repaid”]  Saw Mrs. Schuman [Madeline Schuman was married to Sig’s brother, Herb – I suspect this was her mother] in Tafts for a minute today.

Tomorrow will pack your dresses and get them off.  Dad goes home tomorrow.  I will stay here until Wednesday, then go to the city [San Francisco] for a few days & then homeward bound once again.

Must go to Wilt’s now.  May call Mary [Salterbach] and Hallie [Hitchcock] up tonight.  [Mary and Hallie were both high school friends and, I believe, Loraine’s closest friends].

Lots of love & kisses to my dear children, keep well and happy.

Your loving

While I have nearly every letter tucked safely inside an envelope, sadly I do not have the envelope for this letter so I have no idea where it was mailed to.  That might have provided a few clues but alas, I’ll hope to find some in the piles of letters I still have to transcribe.

I just love finding these treasures, especially so I am able to see their handwriting and hold the same paper that my ancestors held.  Once again, thanks for being a packrat, Grandma!


  1. Your parenthetical reactions are as much fun as the letter. Look at how many sheets of hotel stationery she had. Now you get a couple sheets of notepad paper, not that I want to write a letter, but the paper itself is a window into the times.

    1. I've learned from transcribing my grandmother's letters that not only was the stationery important but so was the pen!

  2. Another real treasure! Wouldn't you like to know what the rabbi and Milt said at the wedding?

    1. Oh believe me, I've thought about that for more than a few minutes. I'm hoping I run across something more about it - and with a packrat for a grandmother I just might!