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Letter from Gertrude Weil to her Family, November 20, 1898

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41 West St.,
Nov. 20, l898.

My dear Ones, -

I feel like a villain for that scrappy letter last Monday, and especially after the receipt of those two fine letters from you, Mamma, and Janet's letter, too. That kind of letters is splendid, when you tell me all the little things that go on – things not always that we are vitally interested in, but that I'd know and be amused at if I were at home. I'd like to have been there this week to participate in the fun. Such excitement! Mephisto – Chatauqua – M. A.C. How is the Jewish Chatauqua progressing in its work? Do the men belong, too? I'd like to see Papa leading a meeting. I suppose it would come Mr. J. Edwards's turn sometime to lead, or make a program, or whatever you do. The picture is too ludicrous. I guess the men don't belong. Does Mr. Mayerberg

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do all the spouting. I wish you'd tell me all about it after you have had a few meetings.

I bet you like M.A.C.'s to be at home, Janet, don't you? The house must have looked beautiful with those elaborate decorations. Does the limit agreed upon apply only to the women? From your description, Mamma, it must have been as fine as the meetings of two winters ago. Do you remember the meeting during one Christmas holiday when I helped Mrs. Einstein hem napkins? The crowd is somewhat smaller now. How you must miss Bella Spier! Who compose the Chatauqua circle? No new members? I see Aunt Kala being roped in. How is the kid? Give him two or three punches in the face for me. He'll know what they mean and they'll serve as a gentle reminder of his father. It is a pity that Nonny had to be a-

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way. She must be longing to see the boy.

I received an answer from Uncle Isaac day before yesterday. I had addressed my invitation to him & Cousin Mattie together. He said that they would be having a lot of company & it would be impossible for either of them to come. [I] made special mention of our means for furnishing sufficient heat, but I don't believe that would have kept him away. I wish I might be able to shock Cousin Mattie once or twice with a few unconventionalities of college life. It will be fine if Aunt Sarah can come up to see me. She will hardly be so hurried as she was last winter. I didn't know that she would be in N.Y. so soon as I learned from Uncle's letter. I suppose I didn't think much about it. I learned from Uncle's letter, too, before I heard from you, Mamma, that Edna is going to live in the same place

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as Bella Rie. I'm afraid that isn't far enough from 79th St. to cause an immediate stir in the folks down there. What sport it will be fixing up a new place! Lillian was telling me the other day of a cousin of hers – an Edna Reid – who used to live at the Graham a year or so ago, and who lives now in an apartment across the street and goes to the Graham for meals when the cook is away. It isn't strange, though, in that Graham House, that they never met.

Speaking of excitement – we have been having it lately – basketball, dances, theatre, dinners. Yesterday a week ago, two picked teams representing Princeton & Yale played a right good game. The players & the spectators wore the colors, waved the flags, & gave the yells of the two sides. It was a fine game. Yale won with a score of 17-14. Poor Yale! Pity it is

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that the real struggle ended so differently! After the basket-ball game, we got news of the other great one. In between our two halves, two scrub teams calling themselves the "Insane Asylum" and "Clark Institute" (a deaf & dumb asylum here), played a fun game. All the fun was in their fantastic decorations in all sorts of bows, sashes, & fandangoes – and they did look like monkeys.

Yesterday we knew the results of the big game before our Harvard & Yale teams began to play, but it was no less interesting. There were Blue & Crimson banners galore. At the end of the second half the score stood l7-l7, and the next point turned it in Harvard's favor. It was nearly as good as the great Soph-freshman game in the spring.

Mary Smith – one of the girls in the house – came from her home in Amherst this evening with glorious news of the Amherst-Williams game. Her brother was

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full-back on the Amherst team, and distinguished himself bravely.

Don't think that you are the only people who can see plays. Last night, Lil, Florence, & I went (sans chaperone) to see "Pinafore." It was presented for the benefit of the Old Ladies Home here, by some amateurs from Springfield. The company numbered about fifty and did pretty well considering the fact that they were not professionals. But such voices as some of them had! especially one poor woman who substituted in one part. "Josephine" had a regular skyscraper. Mrs. Fitts treated all the girls in her house. Wasn't it nice of her? Mrs. Arnold had announced a dance for Saturday night, and before we went to the theatre, we went to the Hall for a while. But there were only a few girls from our house & the invited guests of some of them, & soon

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after we left, it broke up. Mrs. A. was there, of course, but treated us rather coldly after our encounter of the night before. Friday night five of us from here went over to the Arnold home & attacked Arnold & Co. in their own territory. Our complaint was the food – the kind & the cooking. We didn't get any satisfaction out of the argument – they had answers for everything – and they got terribly mad & excited. But since then there has been a decided change for the better in our bill of fare. May it keep up Amen. It seems almost an impossibility to keep on good terms with your landlady. Mrs. Foster is up on her ear half the time.

A- I must tell you about my dinner today. Jessie had asked me to take dinner with her at Miss Cable's this Sunday. How I got it into my mind that Miss C. had Sunday dinner at half past one I can't tell – but at any

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rate I went to 12 Bedford Terrace about 1:10, found Jessie "out," betook myself to 50 Elm, thinking she might have meant to meet me there. When I got in the door, I heard the clatter of knives & forks, & like a little fool, instead of going home, I went in. Of course the room was full of strange faces and the few old girls who were there were in new places. But I found my way to Jessie's place at the little table, and found – all the seats taken. Jessica was surprised & rather confused to see me, & didn't exactly know what to do. Miss Cable came sailing across the dining room from her throne, expressed her annoyance at J's not having spoken to her about my coming, said it was too crowded to put another chair at the little table, and almost by force dragged me off to her table, where there was a vacant place next to her. Ah! What bliss beyond compare!

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There were a few introductions – most of the girls I had met before. Miss C. seemed so glum & I was so rattled that it was rather awkward. Ah! for something to say! Topics of conversation were at a premium just then. Somehow or other I found myself saying strange, unnatural things – but, then – it was something. Such frigidity I never felt. I don't know what was the matter. She was evidently angry at something. One insinuating remark she made about not having seen me much, but most probably it was because Jessie hadn't spoken to her. Poor Jess, I'm afraid she has fallen from favor. Every once in a while I caught a wink from the little table, but I didn't dare look much for fear of bursting out – laughing. A- it was amost happy meal! One thing I did really enjoy, though, & that was coffee, that we never have after dinner. Afterwards I went with the four Bedford

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Terrace girls to the Fitts' & we had a good time rehearsing our tale of woe – together with other things. They are all splendid girls, and they have lots of fun there – as much, I guess, as we had last year. I just came down from a good time & a spread up stairs in Anna Collier's room (Don't feel bad, Mamma) – the beginning as it were of Thanksgiving festivities. There is one good thing this year – I shan't have to suffer the pangs of leaving home or friends after Thanksgiving. I don't know for certain what I'll do to pass the time. A good many girls in this house will not leave, & Jessie will be here, too. There won't be a lack of things to do.

I believe a good many people from here are going down to Springfield to-morrow night to see Maude Adams in "The Little Minister." She plays there only one

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afternoon & night. From the number of people who can't get tickets at all, I should think they might afford to stay longer. If I hadn't see[n] dear Maude already, I should be sorely tempted to go, but it really isn't worth it, as it is. Instead I'll be trotting to Home Culture & Miss Moffat – she's worth two or three Maude Adams's.

I had already thought on the possibilities of instituting a Home Culture Club in Goldsboro. It would be a splendid thing if it once got to going – if the people knew what it means. I agree with you that the beginnings would have to be very small. The thing of it is – you are dealing with people so different when you tackle the poor uneducated of a New England college town & those of a small Southern town. I never saw people so eager to learn, as they are here. Lots of them come

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four & five times a week for different things. Servants with only certain nights "off" go down there to take Elocution, or dancing, or French. The worst trouble at home, it seems to me, would be in getting the people to take an interest in it. I'll speak to Miss Moffat about H.C. Clubs in general, -- in particular about the early history of this one. There may be printed records and announcements – I'll ask her. It would be rather an imposition to suggest a correspondence – she is the busiest woman I ever saw. She was speaking the other night to some women of a club about to be formed – not for study but to consist of talks on various topics & questions that come up in common daily experience – and she said she had only one hour free – on Sunday afternoon – and it would probably be scheduled for that time. And yet when you talk with her, she is just as easy & takes as much interest in each particular want, as if that were the only thing on her mind. And she does

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give her whole attention and sympathy to each person as he comes & states his case. She is wonderful! Every one who goes feels that she is his personal friend, as indeed she is. I'll refrain from wearying you further with my rhapsodies. It has gotten so I don't dare any longer open my mouth to anyone in the house about Miss M. I'm sure she can give you information that you want – and then, when you come up in the spring, you know, you can visit the Club here & have a fine talk with her yourself, Mamma – you'll think she's fine, too.

I've written more than I thought and later than I thought, & the feeling in my eyes, as well as the clock, is urging me to see my little bed. So good-night with a good-night kiss & love for each and all from

Your devoted


Date / time
November 20, 1898

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Letter from Gertrude Weil to her Family, November 20, 1898." (Viewed on January 22, 2018) <>.


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