Brooklyn in Love and at War

History of World War Two Told Through Letters

I was never demoralized

Here we have a short and cheerful letter from Sylvia that she included with a letter in Hungarian from Alex’s mother. I included a page of the Hungarian letter though I can’t translate it.

In this letter Sylvia is excited that Alex will return. She describes a lovely family scene with Alex’s parents beaming with pride over Adrienne. Sylvia mentions that she has begun to worry about her appearance. This casual note reveals quite a bit. Sylvia mentions that people have told her that she is looking more “perky” and it is because of Alex’s return. While explaining that she may not have been her most dapper and happy self, she is careful to avoid complaining. Just as the government would want her to, Sylvia makes sure to mention that she was “never demoralized,” simply “negligent about [her] appearance.” Sylvia recognizes that her vanity is healthy and thereby implicitly acknowledges that her apathetic attitude towards her appearance was unhealthy. Alex’s return, Sylvia says, gives everything meaning and form. While this is a very happy letter, one which exudes warmth, family bonds and a glowing spirit, it reveals some of the depression that Sylvia must have gone through.

Sylvia includes Hungarian and Italian in this letter. Personally, I admire her sincere efforts to learn about Alex’s family, background and values. In this letter, Adrienne serves as a vehicle for Sylvia to feel closer to her in-laws. While Alex’s mother never learned much English, Sylvia (who came from a Russian/Lithuanian family) is attempting to bridge a lot of cultures.

My darling-

Your folks were over today and they grow more and more pleased with Adrienne’s development. And the more pleased they are with her, the more please I am with them. Friday I took out my suit and the more I look at it, the better I like it. Right now I’m crazy about it. Your family thinks it’s beautiful, and it’s really made well. Pop is busy now drawing pictures for his favorite granddaughter, while mom sits by and beams – “[?]” she keeps exclaiming… Adrienne is in 7th heaven with all this exclaiming over her. We’re all quite excited at your imminent arrival and that’s all I can think and talk about. It’s quite a wonderful feeling, honey and now again things have begun to take on some meaning and form. I’ve started to worry about my haircomb and my make-up and that’s good,’s a healthy sign, haha, because at times I’ve become negligent. I was never demoralized but negligent about my appearance. Of course, the lack of clothes helped me in that direction – but with the news of your homecoming, I’ve perked up so much that everyone has stopped to tell me how well I look. Dearest, it’s all due to you – it’s love for you that makes this change in your wife. Dearest husband, I love you so much and would love to have you here to show you how much. – I’ll write you at greater length, sweetest husband. Will kiss you farewell now, as I want to enclose this note in mom’s letter to you.

Arrivederci, mio [sic] amore. Io te amo – [Until we see each other, my love. I love you]


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This entry was posted on July 11, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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