Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Posts Tagged ‘transportation

The Impatient Years

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This letter touches on a number of important topics. Sylvia is living in her new home. She visited her in-laws on the Lower East Side and then took Adrienne home on the train which was exhausting even though the transportation is fairly convenient. She is looking forward to – and planning – Alex’s visit home. And she shares a bit of gossip about women getting pregnant, living with in-laws and starting jobs.  What I found most striking in Sylvia’s last letter was the detail in which she described the movie “The Impatient Years.” She recites the plot in its entirety – this being her argument that they should go see the movie.

I haven’t been able to see this movie (Netflix doesn’t have it) but, as Sylvia and IMDB tell me, it is a movie that looks at relationships that are interrupted by the war. It is about being married and still being strangers. It’s also about how the war rushes and then stalls relationships. (The tagline of the movie is: They found the answer to WAR-TIME MARRIAGES in the middle of a KISS!) The couple in the movie know each other for only three days before they get married and the husband leaves for war. Sylvia mentions that Alex wants to go to the hotel where they went for the “first night of [their] acquaintance.” (I’m not sure if this is a euphemism or not, or if it was commonly used). This leads Sylvia to talk about the movie and how the couple re-live their courtship. The poster for the movie claims to hold the answers about War Marriages. This, I imagine, held great appeal for the general American audience.

Sylvia lived with her parents when she first met Alex and it isn’t hard to believe that couples often got married quickly in the 1940s because it was otherwise difficult to find the time and space to be alone together. To me it seems both romantic and quirky that Alex, having never seen his new home, wants to take Sylvia to a hotel when he is on leave. Interestingly, this is the same idea that the judge has in “The Impatient Years,” when he wants to remedy a couples’ strained marriage. Like Sylvia, I don’t wish to draw a direct parallel between the movies’ broken relationship and that of my grandparents but reliving the courtship days seems to hold romantic merit. I, too, tend to reminisce about (or wallow in?) the early days of a relationship once it is ending.

So often, these letters are about finding personal space, finding a way to connect with family and spouses, learning how to be alone and together, and figuring out how to stay close across great distances.

Written by Molly

July 11, 2010 at 7:00 am

Mapping Progress

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Last week I got on the subway and immediately felt that something was different. I took my seat and there it was directly across from me. The new subway map. The subway map has been the same for my entire life. More importantly, my entire idea of how New York looks from above is based on that subway map. I’m aware of the inaccuracies of what I keep in my mind’s eye. For instance: Staten Island looks like it is a hop, skip and a jump away from Manhattan and Brooklyn is supremely undersized. Nevertheless, I have always been fond of this map. The NYTimes had a fascinating article about how this map has changed over time and the reasoning (and irrationality) behind it. I will admit that I was shocked by how small Manhattan actually is. Yet the new map has made it even fatter.

Transportation is one of the most critical aspects of New York City. It is what makes the city livable. This becomes even more obvious when faced with the latest MTA service cuts, which impact the outer boroughs most of all.

When Sylvia and Adrienne moved into the apartment on 133 Navy Walk Sylvia was very proud of her new and independent life. Just as important as being independent were her ties to the family. She talks about Alex’s mother and sister visiting and how easy it was for them to take the bus from the newspaper stand on the Lower East Side (see previous post: ‎) to her new home in the projects. Here is a letter that mentions that. Note, her stationary still carried the old address, which she took care to cross out and re-write on each page.

My darling,


I am sitting peacefully in our own home on our own couch. The baby is asleep in her own bedroom – and I am in love with our little home. It’s adorable and I wish you could be here to help me admire it.


This will be the first night I’ve slept in the apartment and I’m not quite sure what my reaction will be. I believe I’ll feel lonely – as it will be one of the few times I’ve ever spent alone in our own home.  Also, dearest, I believe I’m a little frightened. Just one of those vague feelings – so don’t worry about it.


The baby loves this place. There was a minutes’ confusion whne I told her to take a doll into her room, but now she knows it’s her room and keeps running there all the time. Her room has the sun almost all day long – it has two windows.


The apartment is almost complete except for linoleum, curtains, etc. The “linoleum, etc.” will have to wait until I get some dough. But even as it is, it looks so cute.

So don’t waste any time, just come right home, do you hear?



Your mother and Serena [Alex's sister] came over at about 6:30 tonight and they both think the apartment is adorable. In fact your mother wants to take out an application here too. It’s very easy to get to Canal and Allen. All they do is take a bus over the bridge and it drops them off from the project to directly in front of Papa’s [newspaper] stand. Some convenience for the Rosners?

Serena left me $2.00 and became so insulted when I didn’t want to take it that I had to do so. I’d borrowed $15.00 from Sadie and that it should last me until I get my check but she wouldn’t hear of it and apologized for not having had enough sense to bring money with her. What a difference between your sisters and mine. Serena and Anna wouldn’t have waited for me to come and borrow – and if I ever did ask to borrow  they’d tell me that the money was mine. But my sister never asked me if I needed money. Well, what’s the use – you know all this already. Anyway, I’m now $30.00 in debt. $15 to Anna and $15 to Sadie for food and rent. Serena had already given me $15 for rent before we moved in. They’re too damn good to me and they’re spoiling me and you are going to have a spoiled wife on your hands when you come home.
My darling, Adrienne and I are very anxious to hear what news you have about share duty. And we’re both expecting you home for Mommy’s birthday ( a gentle hint) and for the anniversary. I’m terribly tired, darling, so if you’ll forgive me I’ll undress for bed now. Probably the night will be a very restless one – I’ll have you on my mind – so please write quickly to tell me you’re all right.

All our love, Daddy-
Sylvia and Adrienne


Written by Molly

June 29, 2010 at 7:00 am

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