March 24, 2022 § Leave a comment
Jump ahead a few years, Elvin is travelling and he appears to be in Kansas City, Mo. Let’s see what he has to say.
Warning. Elvin uses two Ethnic slurs later in this letter. I didn’t write them out, but I think it is clear what he wrote, and though I could chalk it up to “Well, that is just how they talked in 1938”, it wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now and I don’t want to provide any legitimacy to either of them. Prejudice is a learned behavior, and both Elvin and Vivian learned their prejudices from their parents and their peers.« Read the rest of this entry »
March 18, 2022 § Leave a comment
The last letter in this series Elvin holds true to his word and mails this letter before driving the 350 miles to Canton N.Y. (Think where the sun don’t shine) to be with his sweetheart. If you have been taking the time to read these, then perhaps you too are smitten a wee bit by Elvin’s charm and his turns of phrase. I would call this stuff poetry, but it does strike a chord.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.« Read the rest of this entry »
February 1, 2022 § Leave a comment
I am looking at the pile and there is only one more letter left to transcribe. Okay, there are more letters, but this group is coming to an end, and fortunately there is one from Vivian which will be transcribed shortly.
So, a little peak into their world. Or maybe Elvin’s perception of the world. Marriages are “nighttime” marriages. What happens during the day? Elvin seems to believe they will have a daytime marriage as well which seems to imply there will be contact during the day. It won’t be a “Leave it to Beaver” sitcom where Elvin departs in the morning leaving poor Vivien to handle the home and the kids until he returns in the evening looking for his dinner, his pipe, and his paper. We shall have to see how the rest of what I have plays out.
The envelope of this letter has some “extras”. “5-2-7th-350-2-go” Which means 5 days to the 7th, then 350 miles to drive (go). On the back is “Watch for N.J.-H-38781-’35” which I believe is the license plate for Elvin’s vehicle. For example.« Read the rest of this entry »
February 1, 2022 § Leave a comment
Last day of the month, and Elvin knocks out four pages to his darling in Canton. A joking reference to let “Duke” know that Elvin is serious about Vivien, and apparently Elvin received a two part tome of writing from Vivien who is also studying for exams. I wonder what her major was.« Read the rest of this entry »
January 30, 2022 § Leave a comment
Two more days pass and Elvin is at his writing table again. This time just before dinner, or maybe just after? Who knows what kind of dinner schedule existed in the Hollander household in Arlington, NJ.
Greetings dearest. Tis the day after our ninth month anniversary of August 28th last. We have nine days more of this waiting business before we again get together. Summer has arrived in these parts and all one does now is walk around in shirt sleeves and perspire. Believe it or not, it’s been so hot my face is tanned without having gone out in the sun. My right arm is responding rapidly to energetic exercise and is yearning to swing into action. I hope it doesn’t go stale from over-exercise by June 7th. I have every hope though that it will be in the pink of condition for the test.
I can scarcely wait to get into those little discussions-to-come:- what color bathroom; what color the rest of the house; where are we going to live; twin beds or a double bed; white, blue or pink (I hope not!) sheets; maple or walnut furniture; four five or six rooms; and I don’t know how many more topics. I know, darling that we won’t back ammunition for discussion for quite a few years to come let alone enough for this summer. There’s something about planning to get married that gets into your blood. One develops a sort of a kindly feeling for all people that are in the same position and for those that have gone through it. Most of the poor people lose that human outlook after a period of time but darling give me a good kick in the ribs if you see me losing it because I want to keep it.
It rained like the very dickens at five o’clock this afternoon and before I could get to the car to close the windows, the inside of the car was soaked. It’ll dry out soon I hope.
Darling, I have $280 saved up and by the time I leave for Canton I’ll have about $350. Not bad eh, for a young fellow1. Eight days from tonight I’ll be picking up the RING and all the luggage I can gather up at your house. By the way if you need any spare luggage to carry home your belongings, let me know and I’ll bring it along.
When you get this you will probably be studying for your last exam. Good luck darling and if it helps remember I love you and am always
1 This is 1935, just less than seven years into the Great Depression, but Elvin seems to be in really good shape. He is the son of a successful business man whose business might have taken a hit, but had survived, and maybe even thrived. For reference, Gary Cooper earned 330,000 in the mid 30’s. Share croppers were lucky to earn $500 a year. We know from a previous post that Elvin asked for and received a raise to $55 a week, and he lives at home.
January 29, 2022 § Leave a comment
We see in this letter the first mistakes that I have seen in the letters so far. That is to say mistakes that were missed by Elvin. There were corrections, and I didn’t note them, but these were uncaught, and I think deserve mention.
Also, we see in this letter a definite dialog in answers to questions that Vivien must have posed in a letter to Elvin. Too bad I don’t have those letters!
Another note here is that when Elvin finishes these letters, sometimes it seems like he walks right over to a mailbox, or the Post Office, and deposits the letter. The postmarks are sometimes very close to the time these letters are written. This one in particular. He starts the letter at 4pm, and it’s postmarked 6:30pm the same day!« Read the rest of this entry »
January 29, 2022 § Leave a comment
So, I dug out Vivien’s birth certificate and she is officially Vivian, so I don’t know why Elvin insists on writing to her as Vivien. Maybe he used to accentuate the “en” instead of the “anne”. No one can say today.
I have to write your Sunday letter tonight darling because tomorrow night I’ll be bound for Philadelphia for the night and Saturday night too. Then on Sunday I’ll be on my way to Washington for Sunday afternoon and night and I’ll be returning on Monday afternoon. Altogether I’m looking about 600 miles and more right in the eye again. I guess my title will be the “Globe Trotter” after a while. I certainly should be in shape for that Canton trip when it comes along – shouldn’t I darling?
Dad has been contacted for the sale of the business1. This, of course, is absolutely confidential. The first important moves will be made tomorrow and we’ll know definitely what’s coming of it by the time I come to Canton. I wish they could sell for a good figure. We have the foundation for a tremendous business but it needs two or three times more capital to bring it to where it could be. If they sold, I’d still have a job with the business more than likely and a much better salary and the family would be well set with plenty of that well known but little seen medium of exchange – Cash in all its verdant glory and green richness. This job would materialize so much faster. It would mean that quite a bit of money would come my way which would be socked away for the income only and the principal wouldn’t be touched. Maybe – who knows darling – we may be somewhere yet, I hope.
My Dad is leaving Saturday on a trip to Cleveland, Chicago and other points. He will be gone about a week. Mother is going with him in the Nash. So there’s another part of the family on their way.
Last night Esther2 asked me to look at the fuses for the lights in her room. I found the one that was burned out and put in another when – flash! – went the new fuse. We went into Ester’s room, pulled all the plugs and made sure that everything was disconnected. I tried another fuse and that blew too! So we went back to Ester’s room again and with the aid of matches we started to try to put a plug in a wall receptacle near the floor and it would in!! We looked a little closer and there was a nail pressed into the receptacle. Only one answer darling – Barbara3!!!!! The next fuse we tried was all right. What a child, what a child!! Just a little taste of the prides, trials and puzzlements of parenthood.
Everybody down here except me as far as I an ascertain have been dabbling in chain letters. They’ve been passing around one dollar chain letters! I’ve heard of some people cash in in but I don’t know any of them yet. I’ve still got “our” dollar darling and I’m going to hang on to it even though people are saying that I’m closer than the original Scotchman4. As far as I’m concerned, economy drives don’t permit speculation and every dollar in hand is worth one thousand somebody else is reputedly getting. I’m so close these days, the buffaloes are howling and the eagles are screaming. I’m not doing bad though – when June 7th comes around I’ll be $350 ahead of what I was April 1st. Not bad, eh darling?
I forgot to tell you. Your Father liked the polish job I did on my car so well that he asked me to get him some for his car. The Ford actually looks like new.
Thus darling you can see that your hopeful husband – to – be is doing his very very best to insure the happy event scheduled tentatively for that distant month of September. These weary eyes will indeed refresh and brighten when they gaze into those brown eyes of their owner’s bosom pal and companion, his betrothed. Those blue eyes will kindle with extreme rapidity the deep blue fires of the Nordic when they gaze on the September dawns and those to follow5.
They’re having an awful nutty program over the radio as I write this. Some fun!!
You needn’t worry about the ring anymore. It is fully insured for its replacement value which is $400. The pokey is made out to you. I got it through Al6 but he’s keeping mum about it. I didn’t want to go that distance with it without insuring it and I didn’t want to give the business to anybody but Al.
Two weeks from tomorrow darling and there’ll be a big day in food old Canton, N.Y.
I love you so much,
1 This is news to me. Star Electric Motor company. This is 1935 way before the war effort, and some 20 years into the company’s existence. Emil used to wind motors, as I am told, working in a factory with other Swedes in Belleville, and he and Petersen, teamed up and started their own company. Their first product was an electric fan.
2 Ester is the youngest of the children born to Emil’s first wife Amalia Carlson, and was quite a sharp tack. I visited her when she was bedridden in a Nursing home in Oneonta and the staff there loved her because she was so alert and smart and engaging. A far cry from what they were used to with other residents.
3 Elvin’s niece Barbara, Ray’s daughter who was pretty young at the time.
4 Haven’t a clue what this means.
5 Laying it on thick there.
6 Alton Ennis, Vivien’s brother-in-law. As it so happens, Al was Jewish, and so perhaps had family in the jewelry business. I recall stories about the “Issue” when Bernice married Al, but I don’t think that was an “issue” for long. Clearly Vivien and Elvin were fine with it, and since Bernie and Al were living in Florham Park, I can only surmise that Harry and Edna were okay with it as well.
January 29, 2022 § Leave a comment
Elvin is back at his desk the next night at 10:30 to write his Vivien once again. A shorter letter, let’s see what’s inside.
The first paragraph pops out! I guess Vivien has a family dog named Chang what must have bitten a neighborhood kid, or Junior. Junior who? Pick any Junior from 1935 W.O. I don’t think you would see this play out today the way this did. Junior’s Mom said Junior must have provoked old Chang, and therefore deserved whatever consequence was meted out by Chang, and so Chang got to live another day, and perhaps a full life.
“Dutch”. So, the story behind this is an obvious one when you know that Elvin was born Elvin Hollander. Yes, I am Eric Hallander, and the story goes that Elvin E Hollander changed his name to Elvin E Hallander, so that his office mail wouldn’t be confused with his father’s mail Emile E Hollander, or E E Hollander. Anyway, Someone started calling him “Dutch” and I guess it stuck.« Read the rest of this entry »
January 28, 2022 § Leave a comment
We are getting into the final weeks before Vivien’s graduation, and Elvin has stepped up. Maybe, all the letters between these end of May letters and the beginning of April letters weren’t worth saving. It’s hard to say, as here Elvin talks about polishing the car. Good stuff yes.
Elvin passed away in 1967, so I wasn’t all that old, and so my memories of him are pretty slim. Images mostly, no real memories of the soul of Elvin, but reading these letters breathes quite the personality into him. Let’s remember he is 26 (March) in these, and Vivien is not quite 21 (July) yet.« Read the rest of this entry »
January 28, 2022 § Leave a comment
Whether there were, and I am sure there were, more letters between the last one written up, and this one I don’t have them. It’s implied in this letter that Elvin wrote every Friday night for a Saturday post, and potentially a Sunday read? I guess the United States Postal Service had weekend delivery in 1935. I, of course could be wrong, and maybe it takes a whole week to get to Northern NY, and Vivien gets these posts a week later. Until I come across a letter from Vivien to Elvin with some kind of acknowledgement, we won’t know.« Read the rest of this entry »