Monday, October 19, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Pregnancy and Naming the Child

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

This week I transcribe a letter my maternal grandmother, Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch, wrote to her sister-in-law Bert (Deutsch) Freed, in May of 1938.

(Bert is the same child in my transcription last week who was hidden from the immigration authorities in 1913.)

5372 Cates Avenue,
Saint Louis, Missouri,
May 19, 1938.

Dearest Bert

It was so sweet and thoughtful of you to call us long distance the other night. I was only sorry Martin was not at home to talk to you also. He seems to always miss out on your visits, telephone calls, etc. He came home the very next night.

Last Monday night I had another "upset" and have spent the last few days in bed. It will be so nice not to be a Semi invalid after the baby comes. I have always been so husky and strong that it seems ridiculous to pamper myself now, but the doctor insists that I do. I am going to the doctor again tomorrow. Last month I lost two pounds and in the past three weeks gained back only four ounces of it. The doctor wants me to gain five or six pounds more, as he said one of my stature should gain more. I have gained 20 pounds so far, which is about average. Last week when I went to the doctor he said he didn't believe the baby would arrive until about June 15th, as I do not seem to have developed sufficiently. I hope he is wrong and the baby decides to come next week My bag is all packed and I'm ready to go.

A number of our friends can't wait until the baby arrives. Monday I received a package from a girl friend in Texas containing a lovely satin print gown for ME and an adorable little dress for the baby. Another couple we know want to give the baby a comb and brush set, but they said they would have to wait to see if it is a boy or a girl so they can get military brushes if it's a boy.
Besides they want to have the pieces monogrammed. The Tunneys have repainted the little crib they gave us, and Martin will have a new mattress made for it while I'm in the hospital. It is so nice of Mother to fix up the basket for us, and I do appreciate it.

Martin said he thought he would wait and get the fresh tires when they come in. He will write you further about his wants. It seems to me that that's a pretty fine saving to make on the tires, and I'm quite sure he will take advantage of your offer to get them for him. Perhaps the three of us can drive up and get them later an in the summer.

I had a nice letter from Sally and she was grumbling because you owe her a letter. She said for me to tell you if you didn't write, she wouldn't call you up on her visit to Chicago this fall. She will return there alone, as she and Joel are spending his vacation at some seaside resort this summer. His mother intends spending a couple of months with them soon.

When are you going to have your tonsils removed? Don't neglect it, my dear, if the doctor advises having them out. There's really nothing to the operation and I know from experience that diseased tonsils can cause heaps of trouble. I had mine removed when I was in my teens, and their removal made a vast improvement in my health.

I am supposed to think up some names today and make a list for Martin to look over tonight, so that we might agree on a name for our baby. I have practically let him name the boy, so I think he ought to permit me to name the girl. I was amused at him last night he said, 'I WANT YOU to choose the name!" But it seems every name I think pretty, he doesn't care for, so we’re still stymied. I still prefer Barbara Jane (my first choice) and I like Suzanne second best. But Martin frowns on both of these. He wants a very ordinary name, he says, but so far has made no helpful suggestion or named any preference. I think he would like to name a girl for Mother (your mother) and perhaps mine. My mother's middle name was Jane. But I doubt vary much if Mother would approve of using her name as it would not conform to the Jewish custom. Can you come to the rescue and suggest something appropriate?

I'm glad the check arrived on Mother's Day and pleased Mother. Martin wanted to write on the card for her to buy a pair of shoes with the money, but I told him there might be something she wanted or needed more than shoes this year. I have been unable to get out lately. I had wanted to go downtown and get some house-dresses for her, but of course that is impossible right now.

I know Jerry and Dorothy are "off me" because I haven't written them the itinerary of the Mexico trip that I promised them Perhaps I can get around to it within the next few days. Esther Linquist, who lived next door to us on San Bonita, is in Mexico now. She and another friend of mine, Hortense Sierk whom Eddie met, made the identical trip that Ed made last fall. They were in Mexico City when the country was threatened by that revolution last week.

I have no special news for you, Bert, dear. Give my love to all the clan and tell them I'm looking forward to seeing them all during various week ends this summer. And lest but not least, depending on seeing you and Herman among the first visitors!

Yours devotedly,


My grandparents had been married about a year and a half at this point.

The "Jewish custom" mentioned refers to a superstition against naming children after living relatives - out of fear the Angel of Death might get confused and come after the child instead of the adult. Even though at this point none in my family probably actually held the superstition, the custom remained, and my grandmother was trying to respect it, even though she came from a different tradition. (The repetition of names in the Van Every line can get very confusing.)

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember it well!! June 11 wasn't far off the doctor's prediction. And as you know, it was Barbara Ann.