Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
This is not exactly related to my grandparents but it does have to do with femininity in history! I wrote this for the Huffington Post: American Girl: How Radical Can a $105 Doll Be?
Please feel free to comment or share!
The final installment of my posts on the Brooklyn Navy Yard Blog has gone up!
Check it out here:
The first of a series of blog posts that I wrote for the Brooklyn Navy Yard has been posted. Happy Women’s History Month!
My parents went to see Sylvia’s letters on display @BLDG92 – the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center. The whole center is beautiful and engaging. Go there and support this great new site for exploring Brooklyn’s history!
Just like my mom did:
This is a postcard that is currently on view at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center (@BLDG92)! Go see it in person!Alex Rosner A.S. Company 360 US N.T.S. Sampson N.Y.
This one struck me funny. Well so far they thought [sic] us only one knot probably they’ll teach us more later. My love to you and Baby. Alex
[Symbol] Means L, means love.
I think this mass produced card speaks to a concern that was on a lot of people’s minds as they tried to navigate their roles in the war and at home. Here, the curvy lady stands at the sink doing dishes while the navy man sits baffled (did Alex draw sweat drops?) with the baby in his lap. He may know about being on a ship but the diaper is proving to be beyond him.
This card deciphers what the dots and lines and boxes at the bottom of various letters mean! A Google search reveals that “. — . .” is morse code! I think that’s a sweet new way that Alex and Sylvia found to say “I love you.” Happy early Valentine’s Day!
Have you ever wanted to see these letters in person and not just online? Now you can at BLDG92 – The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center! Two of Sylvia’s letters are on display along with other exciting artifacts from women who were involved with the Navy Yard during WWII! What I find most exciting about this is that these letters are now being shown just blocks away from where they were written.
Go to bldg92.org (twitter: @bldg92, or http://www.facebook.com/bldg92) to learn details about visiting hours. They have exciting and interactive displays that will show you what has been going on behind the Navy Yard walls all these years!
In honor of Valentine’s Day Alex and Sylvia’s love letters are being spotlighted by BLDG92 this week, so stay tuned this week as I write more about the letters that are currently on display: http://bldg92.org/exhibitions/gallery-92/current-exhibit/
This sexist postcard is a fascinating artifact.
A cross eyed, angry, large, curvy woman stares right out from the image. She assumes that her goofy, malicious sailor beau (framed behind her) has been unfaithful to her. Sylvia selected this card and writes that it is unfunny and untrue, simply handy. However, she still chose quite a threatening and unflattering card. There is no stamp or postage marking on it so I wonder whether it was actually ever sent. There is not much to the content, so the postcard seems just to be for it’s own sake. It was made in Boston and Alex is in Sampson, New York at this time. According to the address, he is in the Gun Unit of the Navy at this point. What year is it from? Family members with a better idea, please let me know! Sylvia writes about her choice to send this card on the back. At the end of the writing there is a dot, a line and two more dots. The meaning of this, is a mystery, too.
Darling – This unfunny, untrue postcard was so handy, – and you have to suffer for it. But if you get this card before the letter, never read it. Cookie send her love to her daddy and so does mommy. But don’t be a hog – S.
Below is a V-Mail from this day 69 years ago. Sometimes, what I can learn from one casual line in these letters simply astounds me.
This V-mail was sent to Alex via the Fleet Post Office in New York on January 26th, 1944. Sylvia sent it from her family’s home on Jerome Avenue.
Cookie was [sic] to the doctor’s today – and she weighs almost 22 lbs. and is almost 30” tall. For a seven ½ month old baby, she’s a little horse! She can take plain milk now – no more formula! Hooray!! The sterilizing of bottles keeps up for another few months. Slowly I’m to start her on chopped foods – she’s to get cottage cheese three times a week. I’m to return in 4 weeks and that’s when she’ll start getting her Diptheria injections. And baby, am I scared of that. I wish you were here to hold my hand- or to hold Baby while she gets the needle. Your mother and Edward were here today – and mom brought Cookie two dozen fresh country eggs. Wasn’t that sweet and thoughtful? And it’s so timely, because it’s the end of the month, and it’ll be a week before the check arrives. Your mom is very thoughtful, honey. She and everyone else is well. They’re all going to an affair for infantile paralysis this Sunday. You remember, the drive is on again and it’s the President’s birthday ball too. Mom watched Adrienne clap hands in two languages and then she sang her a little Hungarian rhyme and Adrienne clapped hands at that too. (cont’d) Sylvia
Unfortunately, I don’t have the attached continuation of this letter but this one page alone is full of so many interesting details. The check arrives at the beginning of each month. Adrienne will eat cottage cheese three times a week! She will get multiple Diptheria injections. Alex’s mother brings fresh country eggs. Where was she coming from? I love the idea of Adrienne clapping in “two languages,” and clapping along to a Hungarian rhyme.
The mention of the “drive” and President’s ball refers to the origination of the March of Dimes. In 1938, Roosevelt created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. According to the FDR Library website, “To increase awareness of the campaign, radio personality and philanthropist Eddie Cantor took to the air waves and urged Americans to send their loose change to President Roosevelt in ‘a march of dimes to reach all the way to the White House.’ Soon, millions of dimes flooded the White House. In 1945, the annual March of Dimes campaign raised 18.9 million dollars for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis…” The Birthday Balls helped raise financial support that led to a polio vaccine. “Although the Birthday Balls ended in 1945 with the death of President Roosevelt, both of their legacies live on in the March of Dimes.”
This is an amazing example of how a nationwide movement, spurred by one inspiring leader, can have an enormous effect. Even when many Americans awaited the checks at the beginning of each month for their survival, as Sylvia did, people attended these balls. Even immigrant families in Brooklyn donated what they could to finding a cure for Polio.
The organization continues today to promote infant health: http://www.marchofdimes.com/
Eleanor at FDR Birthday Ball at the Statler Hotel in Washington DC, with Red Skelton, William O. Douglas, Lucille Ball, John Garfield, and Maria Montez. January, 1944. FDR Library Archives, NPx. 72-18:325