Joseph and Mary

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Joseph and Mary

Thought I’d pop in briefly and add these photos of my grandparents, Joe and Mary. I am still looking for Irwin’s Bar Mitzvah picture (mentioned in my first blog posting) – hopefully I’ll find it and post it soon. More, many more letters from Joan coming soon – my goal is to post at least one a week!

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‘Dear Mr. Sokol’

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'Dear Mr. Sokol'

First letter from Joan (November 8, 1945)

So here we go I guess…First, this blog will contain about 50 letters – no, I have not verified the signatures and nor do I care.  To my grandmother, they came from Joan Crawford.  And to her, Joan was a star!  Why my grandmother was so enchanted with her, I don’t know.

What I do know is this – my grandmother and grandfather (ironically named Mary and Joseph) were not native to the US.  Both came here from Russia at/near the turn of the century.  Poor, immigrants, Jewish (hence the Mary and Joseph reference) – but from what I know, full of life.

Mary and Joseph had one son, Irwin.  At the time of this letter Irwin was approaching his Bar Mitzvah (I’ll throw in a pic next time just for fun) and Irwin, my father, was Mary’s life.  I thought at one time nothing else mattered to her – of course we did, her grandchildren, but who knew grandma was star struck!  And grandma  was afraid to make the initial move with Ms. Crawford, so my grandfather initially wrote to her, hence you see here that this letter was addressed to my grandfather, Joe – a Coney Island deli owner by day and a songwriter by night (more on him later in this blog).

So this is where our journey begins – Joan just released Mildred Pierce (release date October 20, 1945) and the studio ‘has wired her to come home (from her New York apartment) immediately.’  And thanks to Google maps, I have found that her New York apartment (at 130 East End Ave in NYC) was a mere 15.4 miles away from my grandparents apartment in Brooklyn (1765 79th Street).

So what was happening 1945?

  • (Feb).  The Yalta Conference (with Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin) plans the final defeat of Germany (WW II)
  • (April 12) FDR dies and Harry S. Truman becomes president
  • (April 30 ) Hitler Commits Suicide
  • (May 7) Germany surrenders
  • (May 8) Is declared V-E Day
  • (April – June) San Francisco Conference establishes the United Nations
  • (July 16) Manhattan project tests first atomic bomb in Alamogordo, NM
  • (July 18) A B-25 bomber flies into the Empire State Building damaging the 78th and 79th floors and killing 13 people
  • (July – Aug) Potsdam Conference (with Truman, Churchill, Stalin) establishes basis of German reconstruction
  • (Aug 6) US drops atomic bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and on Aug 9 on Nagasaki
  • (Oct. 24) United Nations is formed
  • (Sep 2) Japan signs official surrender on V-J Day
  • First electronic computer, ENIAC, built
  • World Series:  Detroit d. Chicago Cubs (4-3)
  • Stanley Cup:  Toronto d. Detroit (4-3)
  • Wimbledon:  Not held due to WW II
  • Kentucky Derby:  Hoop Jr.
  • NCAA Championship:  Oklahoma A7 M d. NYU (49-45)
  • NCAA Football Champions:  Army (9-0-0-)
  • I, the author, will be born in 16 years and a day 😉

Oscar, Best Picture:  Going My Way

Music:
Gene Autry, “At Mail Call Today”
Bing Crosby, “Aren’t You Glad You’re You?”
Judy Garland, “This Heart of Mine”
King Cole Trio, “The King Cole Trio”
Glenn Miller, “Glenn Miller”
Carousel soundtrack
Frank Sinatra, “Put Your Dreams Away”

Books:
W. H. Auden, The Collected Poems
Gwendolyn Brooks, A Street in Bronzeville
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up and Other Uncollected Pieces
John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
Richard Wright, Black Boy