Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

Powerful Katrinka

I adore this letter. Sylvia is so excited for Alex’s homecoming (though it seems far away and temporary). In the letter she is jubilant, loving and even a bit vain. I like hearing how she jokes about destroying Alex’s ship so he has to stay ashore and her warning that Adrienne won’t like it if he doesn’t shave. I love that she doesn’t want Adrienne to be “shy or retiring,” and calls her Powerful Katrinka. I had to look that one up – and at first I thought she might be referencing a book published in 1915 called “Katrinka – The Story Of A Russian Child.” The book is geared towards children and since Sylvia’s parents were Russian I imagine that this was a book she was familiar with. But, upon further investigation, I think that she is actually referring to a character from a daily comic called “Toonerville Folks” featuring (according to Wikipedia) “Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, the Physically Powerful Katrinka, Little Woo-Woo Wortle, Aunt Eppie Hogg (The Fattest Lady in 3 Counties) and Mickey McGuire, the town bully.”

Here she is, Katrinka herself, in toy form:

(I apologize for the formatting issues I had with this post.)

Thursday, April 26th

Dearest Alex,

No letters yesterday, but two today. In one you admire Cookie as she sits on her grandfather’s lap – and in the other letter you tell me that you expect to be home for our darling’s birthday! Darling, I was so happy that I paid no attention to Cookie’s chatter until she just gave up and wet herself!

You needn’t worry about Mrs. Sylvia Rosner occupying herself with anything else but her husband when he comes home on leave. Everything will be called off for those wonderful days. I don’t know what plans to make for  us except that I want to be with you every minute of the time. But dearest, it’s going to be the hardest parting yet if you have to leave again. Now is no time to think of our parting, when you

haven’t even come home on leave. So enough of that. I’ve been kivitzing some of my friends who work in the Navy Yard. I’ve been told of one sailor who has been here for a number of months while his ship is being repaired – so I tell these Navy yard workers to use a blow torch and blast the S.S. Pa [Alex’s Ship] in half to keep my husband here a long time. Some joke! Sweetheart, I keep picturing your homecoming so many times that it seems as if I will greet you in a very offhanded fashion.  The first few times I pictured this scene, I saw myself overwhelmed with joy – the next few times I was surprised and tense – then later I was tearful – how I’ll act I still don’t know.

Anyway, I read Cookie part of your letter, where you say, “I want to spoil her with Candy and ice cream.” So I told her when daddy comes home he’ll hug and kiss her and buy her candy and ice cream. She smiled and said “And malted too.” Hmm! She’s at a terribly possessive stage now. She won’t let other children approach me, but pushes them away shouting, “My Mommy!” And at times she won’t let anyone in to the downstairs hall shouting “My house!” And now nobody can touch your picture – it’s “My daddy!” It’s nothing to get upset about, as Gesell says all children go through this assertive period… but at times it’s embarrassing.

The other day she casually pulled a toy away from a strange child, saying “It’s mine. No you.” You might not react the same way I do, but I’m glad she’s not a shy or retiring baby as shed be pushed around too often. As it is she does a lot of pushing, but I’m there to make her understand she has to share and play well with other children. She does play nicely with them until they approach her certain box in the monkey cage – when she gives them a good wallop on the head or back! Or if they touch her carriage, she pushes them aside. Powerful Katrinka).

            Sweetheart, it’s a wonderful feeling when she puts her arms around your neck and kisses you. You’ll love it – but you’ll have to shave

Your wife didn’t protest too much at your beard, but your daughter will. When you get back, we’ll all go shopping together for cookie. I’ll make up a list of what we need since you’re coming home with so much money. Considering the debts you owe ($20 for me) I believe it will be closer to $350.00, and after banking some of it, and spending the rest, you’ll have nothing…The only thing I can think of now, besides clothes, is a linoleum for Cookie’s room and a chest of drawers…Well, we won’t splurge, but will buy some necessities sensibly. But what’s the sense in buying me nice things if you’re not around to see it? (Don’t lets buy cheap clothes for me. They don’t last and the money is wasted.) All in one breath I say “Don’t” and the next I saw “Do.”

Sweetest husband, the day of your homecoming will be the most excited one in my life. I want to look beautiful for you – so please let me know beforehand (if you can) so that at least my face will be washed. You’ll probably be all spiffed up when you come home, tall and straight in your uniform! I want you to be as proud of me as I am of you.

Sweetheart, if we could only be together for always after this… I’d even get up to make your breakfast. (Don’t say anything you’ll be sorry for, Sylvia.) I love you with all my heart, Alex, and wish to heaven that you’ll be allowed to work ashore. Dearest, I love you, you don’t know how much.

Goodnight, honey-

            Forever yours,


P.S. It took only 5 days for your letter to arrive. Love – S.

One comment on “Powerful Katrinka

  1. d
    April 30, 2011

    Amazing letter! Tell your mom I want her to send me one of these– even if we live in the same house!

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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