Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Just a vague suspicion

Dearly Beloved,

No mail from you this morning – so I presume you must be on the ship for those few days as you wrote me. But I shall expect a letter from you by Monday, darling.

Nothing new has happened in Brownsville –


1 – Frankie is sick with 103 degree fever and a sore throat.

2- Debby (Annette’s kid sister) is sick with 102 fever and a sore throat.

3- There was a fire on the corner today and it gave the yentas on the street something else to talk about besides each other.

4- My aunts are trying to arrange a “shidach” [sic] for mom to some rich widower (without her knowledge).

How she’ll take it I don’t know.

I fixed an old dress of mine and it looks pretty sexy. I cut a square neckline and laced it up the sleeves too. Makes me look busty and hippy.

Anyway, bought some more food for Cookie today, Veg. and Bacon. She shuddered at the first spoonful (and I don’t blame her) but she gobbled up the rest. It tastes lousy – I think the bacon was cooked but she liked it.  I’m going to see if it’s worthwhile having my typewriter repaired. If it’s not too expensive, I’ll have it done and will try to get some manuscript typing in during the evenings. They pay well and it won’t interfere with taking care of the baby – and the machine is a noisy “noiseless Remington” so there won’t be anything to wake up Cookie. But just pray that it won’t be too much dough. I’ll take the machine down in the carriage to some place in the neighborhood – and will write you what’s what.

Tomorrow I expect your family over. Just a vague suspicion.

Re: the poem – it’s finished – but I’ll type it up and send you a copy.

Re: My love for you – still going strong.

Re: Your watch will be ready Monday. Shall I get a longer strap for you?

Cookie and I are both fine. She’s in the street from 9 to 5 every day – and I have to freeze outside while she sleeps her day away in the sun. She eats well and is very cheerful and bites everything within her reach – even me. I fed her such a piece of chocolate and she loves it. She sometimes imitates me when I click my tongue to her. She’s adorable –

Write me about your experience on board the ship. It was interesting to read about loading a gun – especially about the sudden stopping of everything when someone calls “Silence.” Do you use real ammunition, darling?

Write soon, sweetheart.




Sylvia’s writing in 1943 is more playful and youthful.  At this time she is still living with her family on Jerome Avenue in Brownsville. Brownsville is pretty deep into Brooklyn (meaning East).  It was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood until the 1960s. The neighbors and neighborhood figure prominently into her writing.  She mentions that her aunts are trying to arrange a shidduch for her mother. Shidduch is Hebrew for a kind of matchmaking that took place in the Orthodox Jewish community. Sylvia’s mom was being set up with a rich widower.

Sylvia also mentions the gossipy people on the street, the illnesses of some nearby people, Adrienne spending all day outside on the street, and that she will have her typewriter fixed in the neighborhood. Together this creates an image of people living in a fairly self-contained and close-knit community.

Sylvia has some pretty funny lines in this letter. She writes, “Tomorrow I expect your family over. Just a vague suspicion.” She also mentions the “noiseless Remington” typewriter in a kind of joking and cynical way. She is both cynical about the veracity of the advertised “noiselessness” and reliant upon it.

This letter is not the “juiciest” but it is full of some conflicting feelings that we have seen move to the forefront over the course of these letters. Sylvia is concerned for Alex (gently wondering if he uses real ammunition). She is interested in the naval routines that he describes. She is enamored of Adrienne and a little fed up with her neighbors (“gave the gents on the street something to talk about besides each other”). And maybe she’s… just a little bored. There isn’t a definite example of boredom but Sylvia does mention her long days just sitting while Adrienne sleeps.

One comment on “Just a vague suspicion

  1. D
    November 3, 2010

    wow… Sylvia’s is intent on writing — like everyone else in this family, it seems!!! Dad worked for a newspaper, wrote stories and novels, and was intent on publishing all thorugh his life! Adrienne always with a book in her hand from the day she was born to now; Mom, you, me…. culture is powerful….

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This entry was posted on November 3, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .
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