1934, August 15: Eve to Ben Reitman
From London, England, on vacation, Eve writes her third letter to Ben Reitman.
My Dear Ben:
It was a delightful surprise to get your letter with all these clippings, all this news, and your photo. What a very big boy you still are!
And Brutus a big boy, driving you home after a day's toil and mother well. I am so happy to hear all that. And Violet and Ruth -- all that has such a great memory for me. It represents American and the past, beautiful active life of mine there.
Ben, you asking me to do a 2,000 word chapter for your book. Why, my dear man, if I wanted to write my experiences of my wanderings and people and adventures, which still continue with every blessed day, it would take me years to write and I could fill volumes, not chapters.
Your letter was forwarded from paris by my dearest friend, most beloved girl, a German refugee, a marvelous artist and singer and the most beautiful thing to look at. She landed in Paris (her name is Hella) on July 1, 1933 with 20 francs cash, and fate had it so that we found each other on that day, and we are the most devoted of friends. My adopted child [Hella], who is a grown woman of 28 and look 19, was ill during most of last winter and we had hard times, and a bit of a struggle to make ends meet, but everything is fine - now-
I am here since August 1st. Just a holiday, ben. Did not swim in the channel this time, as I did once, according to a Duluth radical newspaper, but came by third class and have a return ticket to Paris. Going back to paris the day after tomorrow.
London is delightful. Have lots of friends here, those I accumulated in France, America and invitations kept me very busy for 15 days.
Tonight I was to one of the famous London summer concerts in the Queens Hall -- Promenade concerts -- and listened to Brahms Symphony #4 and Chant de Joie by Honegger, and after that we met 6 people in the famous hobohemian Café Royal.
This afternoon, as I was coming out of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, there sat a pavement artist with a collection of crayon heads for sale, among them a portrait of Hindenberg and another of America's idol, Dillinger! "How lovely," Cynthia, a London film girl exclaimed, one of tonight's friends in the Café Royal. Now, Ben, how can I begin writing my life story? It is two o'clock in the morning now- I have an appointment at 10? --
I got too tired and exhausted of Monparnasse and continually selling Ulysses and Lady Chatterly's Lover to Americans that I packed my grip and off I went to London to take a rest from the famous Ladly Chatterly, the best seller, and here I am --
You remember Ben, when you got toegther $25.00 and sent it to me in Danzig in the famous cold winter of 1929? Well, then I was earning exactly one dollar a week giving English and Hebrew lessons. Out of that I used to buy tobacco, bread, tea, sugar and out of the 4 necessities 2 would be missing most of the time.
After that in the spring I found a job as waitress in a big seaside open air café in Zopport, then working for the famous Zopport's Kascino, a green sheet collecting ads. Later for the "Grab and Page" people In Danzig, doing the English correspondence dictated to me in German, and translating circulars, American advertisements, into Polish and German.
The same people went into another business "Auto Posse" quick photography, developing, printing, and enlarging all in 10 minutes (not Photomaton) this was done byhand in the dark room. There I was sent by the director, Kaliski of the Grap and Page people, chiefly, as developr, for the man who ran the photo shop and taught the girls was an Englishman and no one could understand him.
I was sad at the thought of going to the dark room, but I soon got well acquainted with the little dark red bulb, and began to like the work immensely, learned all the tricks of the trade quickly and loved it, and in the spring of 1929 I ws chosen by Mr. Parker our expert man in this business to go to Stockholm with him for the Exposition and work there. We had 2 shops on the Exposition Grounds I managed one, Mr. Parker the other. From noon till midnight during May and June I worked there until the staff was well trained, and then I was off to berlin and then paris.
In Montparnasse an American boy said to me one day not long ago "Eve, you and I will be the last two Americans in Paris."
Montparnasse without the American students and hobos has lost its glamor.
They have somehow or other all managed to get home, most of them through the American Aid Society.
There is hardly any one left, as in the good old days, to come along and say "Eve, have you got a couple of francs for a french brioch - a cup of coffee at the Zink bar?" And if I did not have it, I would say "Wait here a minute. I'll rush around and see whether I can sell a copy of the Boulevardier; just stay here." and back I'd come in 5 minutes and we'd have a cup of coffee at the Zink bar.
Or I'd say "Let's all chip in, get a taxi and run over to Hotel de Ville, and get a real Jewish meal." In the good days, there was a merry bunch of American youngsters and we all had a treat, a real dinner!
I am going back to Paris and my mind is on Moscow and Tel-Aviv, two new lands. Don't know yet which wil be the first. Have not one dollar towards the trip, but it has to be in the very near future. Both countries, Russia and Palestine, are calling me, and there where I can make myself useful and do something to help along to build life, I shall remain until the wanderlust will call me again. I made up my mind to go together with my friend Hella. How and when we will do it I do not know as yet. This is just a letter, Ben. When I get back to Paris I'll see what I can do for you. Write to me again. I am enclosing two snapshots. (I have some photos in Paris) one taken over 10 years ago on my wanderings in Yakima valley, the apple country, as I was dressed on one of my hitch-hiking trips towards Seattle; the other in 1932 up in the Alps, Maritimes, France, where I spent a few glorious days in the snows.
Give my love to your mother, Ben. I am sure she remembers me.
And will Brutus remember me? I used to be almost the Master of Ceremonies at his birthdays when he was 4 or 5.
And please give Violet Dixon my love. Always thought that somehow I woud see her one day in Paris.
And Ruth, who was another teacher and friend of mine the one great friend. When some one would come along in the Grey Cottage days and complain to Ruth about me, she would say "There is good and bad in all of us."
And when little Joan was no more than 5, I would take her out in a bright sunny winter morning on the lake. We would chop a hole through the ice and get away with a dozen silver perch, and Joan
Would hold one fish pole and I another, and suddenly she would scream, "Eve, Eve, quick, I got a fish; quick; pull it out; its jumping," and I would help her out and sometimes miss it too.
Or on a summer evening, when Joan was only 4, I would take her out boat rowing. Most of the time she herself handled the oars at that tender age. I was the captain watching out, and suddenly she would exclaim, "Oh, Eve, look at the pink clouds." "Pink clouds!" What a beautiful child's imagination -- now a grown-up serious young woman. And I am so far from everything I lvoed dearly -- but not complaining
I remember, Ben, you wrote me once in my exile days, about 5 years ago, "There is lots of fun to be had in Europe." I did not believe you then, but I do now.
It is three o'clock in the morning. I want to go to sleep.
All the best love to everybody
This transcript of Eve's letter was made by Martha Lynn Reiss and sent by her to Eran Zahavy, who sent it to Jonathan Ned Katz.
A careful researcher, Marie K. Rowley, hired by Jonathan Ned Katz, was unable to find this letter in the UIC Archive.
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