BRILLIANT FAMILY LETTERS Sept. 1956- March 1957
Edited by Ashleigh Brilliant, January 2010
In late 1955 my sister Myrna and I both left England, and came to Los Angeles, where my mother's brother Marsh Adler sponsored us as immigrants. I had just recently graduated from the University of London with a B.A. in History. We thought (not entirely regretfully, at least in my case) that we had left our parents (Amelia and Victor Brilliant) permanently behind - but within a year they decided to follow us. They sold what had since 1947 been our family home in the London suburb of Edgware, brought what they could of the things we had left in their care, and came prepared to settle permanently in California, picking up my mother's own mother in Toronto on the way. My father, a British career civil servant, didn't want to burn his bridges, so, rather than officially resigning from his position at the Board of Trade, he had taken an extended leave of absence.
Meanwhile I had secured a one-year scholarship to study Education at Claremont Graduate School (now C.G. University) in the town of Claremont, 35 miles east of Los Angeles, and, when these letters begin, I was getting ready to start my first semester there. I was 22, my sister 20, my mother 50, my father 58.
In editing these letters, I have kept the entire text, and most of the spelling and punctuation, of the originals, making changes only for sake of clarity. All words inside square brackets are mine as editor and commentator.
Friday, Sept 21st 1956 [From me in Claremont to my parents
in England. Hand-written carbon copy.]
1060 N. College Avenue, Claremont California.
This will be my last letter to you "over there," and I hope it arrives in time. When you leave England, a whole chapter in our family history will have come to an end. Let us hope that the next will be a much brighter one. I believe it can be. Never did I dream when I sailed last October that you would follow within a year. (Nor, I daresay, did you.) But in your position, I am sure I would have made exactly the same decision.
I have received your letter of Sept. 13. The only important thing that has happened to me since I last wrote is that I have taken another job. [Referring to my previous job as a summer camp counselor at Camp Max Straus, a camp for disadvantaged boys run by the Jewish Big Brothers of Los Angeles] I was lucky enough to obtain employment at the L.A. County Fair in Pomona, just a few miles from here. The Fair is a big annual event & lasts until Sept. 30th, which is just perfect for me, since my classes begin on Oct. 1st. I am on the operations staff, which simply means the broom & bucket brigade, but the pay exceeds all my expectations. I work 8 hours a day (7 - 3:30, with ½ hour for lunch) and receive $2.30 an hour. I work every day including Sats & Suns for the 3 weeks of the Fair, am paid time & a half for Saturdays & double time for Sundays. I am actually making more money now than I ever have before in my life, and these wages, together with my savings from Camp and my scholarship, should guarantee me reasonable financial security for the coming year. The work, however is most tedious, and my life these days consists of little more than going to work, coming back, eating, reading, and sleeping. I feel rather lonely, and look forward to the beginning of college as a happy release.
Nor am I altogether satisfied with the place where I am living, mainly on account of the eating difficulty. Eventually I will be forced to choose between remaining here & having all my meals out, which will be extravagant and inconvenient, or moving to someplace where I can prepare at least some of my own food. The Iredells are friendly enough, but somehow I do not feel at ease living with them. [I had a small room in the home of Raymond Iredell, a Claremont Philosophy professor and his wife. I soon arranged to have 2 meals a day in the cafeteria of what was then Claremont Men's College.]
In my solitude I have turned for solace to novels, and, after reading "Of Human Bondage," am now plowing into "Gone With The Wind." I have also been writing many letters and have re-established contact with Harvey Kaplan [a childhood friend from our years in Washington D.C], who, I find, is now a graduate student of clinical psychology at Ohio State University.
With your arrival imminent, I have begun to take an interest in real estate, which indeed is a booming industry out here, with new "tracts" (estates) being developed all the time with publicity galore. As far as I can make out, it is quite possible to move into a new house for only a small down payment, and take about 25 years to pay it off, with monthly payments amounting to no more than rent. There are several tracts even in this district, which I pass driving to work every day. [My (first) car - was a grey 1941 Plymouth coupe, which I had bought in L.A. for $50, before I even had a license.]
It won't be long now before I myself will begin thinking about settling down. Much of course will depend with me upon where I can obtain a good teaching position. But I think this region right here would suit me as well as any.
Now I wish you a wonderful voyage, and happy landings [just an expression, since I knew they were coming by sea] on the way to a new life. May "no regrets" continue to be your motto and good fortune be your guide until we meet. Give my love to all those whom you are leaving behind, especially to Grandma [my father's mother] And let me know when to expect you.
[Postmarked Sept 27, 1956. From my mother in England to my uncle Marsh and me and my sister Myrna in Los Angeles. Air-letter. (Special single-sheet postal form for air-mail). First half typed, second half hand-written in ink.]
Darlings, all, Marsh, Ash & Moina, [a pet name for Myrna]
circulate this please amongst you. Well here we are our last
night in England and I just can't explain it but I am not "furdy
snurdy" at all, children please explain to Marsh. [It was
one of my mother's numerous coinages, and meant something like
"a bundle of nerves."] I think it is because the Pater
is with me and I haven't to worry about a thing, believe me for
organization go to Victor. [As children we called our parents
Mummy and Daddy. I had tried changing this to Mother and Father,
but my mother preferred Mater and Pater.] We arrived [from London]
here yesterday in real style on the Bournemouth Belle. ["Here"
was Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, where my father's
mother lived, and two of his brothers, George and Leonard, still
operated the family fur business. Bournemouth is near Southampton,
from which my parents would be sailing.] We had our dinner on
the train, nothing but the best now to get rid of some ££££
as they won't buy us much over there. What with porters and taxis
all the way, I wish we were [already] on the Q.M. ["Queen
Mary."] We really have put ourselves to a lot of extra worry
on account of all these side trips but we do want to do right
by our families. [My mother's family was mostly in Toronto, which
they would visit on their way to California.] Ma [my father's
widowed mother, my grandmother, Rebecca Brilliant] is just thrilled
to have us, Pater is talking away to her while I type this in
the guest room. Boy what a night I had with Pater in a double
bed, you know me a move and I am wide awake, well Hilda [wife
of my father's brother George] gave me a sleeping pill but before
the Pater settled down I was all ready to take my cushion down
and sleep on the floor. What ever apt. you get us it MUST HAVE
SINGLEBEDS; to-night I think I will have to take 2 pills or knock
Pater out. Hilda has been wonderful and we are being very well
taken care of, as usual the food is so delicious I am putting
on inches everywhere, get the slimming food all ready for me Myrna.
We had quite a shock when we saw Sylvia [Leonard's wife, my aunt] last night, my God she has been through something, Len said it was her worst attack, she is just a shadow. However when we went around again this aft. she seemed at least 50% brighter so we hope to God she will make steady progress, now she is very anaemic, no wonder with what she loses. [I'm not sure just what my Aunt Sylvia was suffering from, perhaps "colitis."]
Start laughing, this machine [i.e. the typewriter] is destined to remain in the Brilliant family, don't ask me how it got started but the boys [George and Leonard] are buying it for the bus[iness.]. We let them have it for £11.0.0. We could have got more but did not start out early enough to sell it, we shlepped it here with every intention of taking it with unless we got a private buyer. Now darlings look around and see what there is in a good portable for about $30. that is all I have for modern one. There are so many for sale here now, all the latest models.
We leave for S'hampton on the 11.16 tomorrow and arrive 12.16. guess they will serve lunch on board although we are not due to sail until 4.
Had to leave this for supper, and Ray & Jack [King, family friends] came in this eve [from London, to see them off] It is now almost midnight, will take this to the ship and finish it from there.
[Now hand-written in ink]
Thursday [Sept 27, 1956] Here we are outside the dining room door waiting for our lunch on the Q.M. [Queen Mary] - Can't do anything about our cabin D.42 we will make the best of it - Ray & Jack are with us - not a good day to leave - dull & rain - It was sad saying good-bye to Ma & the boys - Promised we would be back on a trip -
Ash - as always your wonderful letter cheered us and we now feel it is onward to EXCELSIOR [somehow this had become a family motto] -Myrna it seems like yesterday we saw you off we are standing in the same spot you did - The steward in the dining room is the same one I think you had - he recognized me too [My sister left for California several weeks after I did, and there was no co-ordination in our plans. I came over on a different Cunard ship, the "Ascania."] - we haven't decided about going Kosher yet -
Laugh we were paged at B'mouth station -"Will Mr & Mrs Brilliant go to station masters office" - gosh that was an agonizing few moments - Relax now - we had left an old bunch of keys in the guest room & Ma discovered them & of course it was only natural for them to think we had forgotten our keys - we told porter to ring George & we continued but Pater phoned from S'hampton -
Darlings Darlings pray all the time that we with our 14 pecklach [Yiddish: packages, pieces of baggage] arrive in the land of sunshine intact - we have had such a hectic few weeks -
Love & blessings dear one
[In my father's hand]: Pater writing after a good lunch on board. Our cabin is not too bad after all. We are looking forward to a pleasant trip. (I hope Mater will be O.K.[worried about seasickness]) & a pleasant future in the land of GOLD. Here's to a Brilliant future for all of us.
3 p.m. Just got your cable - thanks a lot. Love to all again. Boat sails at 4 P.M.; 3:30 Mater takes her MARZINE [seasick pill]
[Oct 3 1956 From my mother in Brooklyn NY to me in Claremont
CA. Hand-written in pencil on "R.M.S. Queen Mary" stationery].
Dearest Ash -
Here we are at Pearls & feel so at home - Pearl & Arch [my mother's cousins Pearl and Archie Bogat] are at work [in the beauty parlor on Utica Ave. which they owned and lived over] & we are expecting Gertrude [daughter of Pearl & Archie] - Sam & baby & Ruth Bush's mother [Ruth Bush was a friend in Edgware] for the afternoon - Then Sam is driving us to Cecille & Joe Bogat's [other cousins] & they are taking us out to dinner - Tomorrow we are having dinner with Eddie & Bobby (Pan American House to you) [Bobbie (female) and Eddy Weissbard were friends we had first known in Washington D.C. We had once spent a miserably rainy few days in a resort hotel they owned called Pan American House, which I think was somewhere in upstate New York.]
We docked yesterday at 4:30 & we got off the ship at 5:10 but were almost (Had to stop yest. this is Thursday [October 4, 1956] 10:30 A.M.) the last to leave the dock shed but T.G. ["Thank God"] everything was Okay.
Pearl-Arch - Cecille& Joe - Bobby Weisbard & her dad were all down to meet us - we will tell you all the details in person -
We spent last night with Cecille & Joe [Bogat. Wealthy relatives.] - they took us to a famous steak place Ronnie's for dinner - well I'm not over it yet - then in the eve Cecille had Raymond Stavenhagen & his wife over & other relatives & Pearl & Arch came to take us home -
Anyway darling our thoughts have been with you there these past few days & we are hoping and praying that you make a wonderful beginning at Claremont and that you accomplish everything you have set out to do and we know "Excelsior" will be yours-because you want it -
We leave for Toronto [my mother's home town] Friday night & will be in Toronto Sat. 9 A.M - We hope to leave there with the Mater [my widowed grandmother Sarah Adler] Oct 16th & arrive in L.A. Friday the 19th but nothing is definite - we will notify Marsh & Myrna & they will keep you informed
Meanwhile as you can imagine we are in a high degree of Flux
Pater was offered a terrific proposition here by Joe Bogat but the headache wouldn't be worth the financial gain - [I have no idea what this was about.]
But if things don't go in L.A. then we would think it over -
Our love & all the best wishes in the world to you - Hope you are more comfortable & settle in to a wonderful college life - Bless you - Mater
[October 21 (?) 1956 To me in Claremont from my mother in Los Angeles. Hand-written in ink on "Queen Mary" stationery.]
Dearest Ash -
Hope you got home okay - [I must have come into L.A. to welcome them.]
Gosh are we all tired - didn't do anything to-day - just a drive this aft late with Marsh & then shopped at Boys Market & home - we are still unpacking & tidying up - for how long Lord knows - to-morrow AM Pater sets out to see what he can see - he has a few little jobs to do before he can go to the agencies etc - [I am not sure exactly what the financial situation was, but apparently even if my parents had money in the UK they couldn't bring it over because of currency restrictions - so they were both hoping to find work in L.A. This was harder for my father at his age.]
Please have your "Head" or whatever you call him sign the enclosed form section 2 and return to Pate as soon as possible -
This A.M. your friend Howard [Dessent - but his mother spelled her name De Sant. Howard was a friend I had made at Los Angeles State College, and he had helped me pass my driving test] called & we had a chat with him - This aft. his mother called to welcome us & wanted to come over this aft but we explained we were too untidy etc -- so may have her over tomorrow night when Myrna's girlfriend will call - This Mrs. De Sant thinks you are wonderful etc etc - you made a hit with her -- & so glad you were friendly with her son -
Marsh will be giving me the $200 to enclose when I go over there tomorrow - if I did not have so much to do I would also go job hunting -
We enjoyed our dinner very much last night - we ate at Benjamins - La Cienega -
Can't keep my eyes open - we are all fine & so far love L.A.
Tuesday 23rd Oct [1956. From my father in Los Angeles to me
in Claremont. Hand-written in ink (on old stationery from where
we lived 1941- 45, headed "Mrs. Victor Brilliant 517 Peabody
Street N.W. Apt. 3 Washington D.C.")]
This letter has been delayed in order to obtain the enclosed draft for $200 from Marsh; we've just obtained it.
We spent a very pleasant evening with Mrs.De Sant last evening - she came fairly early & stayed late, & she wants to make an evening for us to introduce us to important interesting people; it may be early next week.
Well, Ashleigh, the longer I am here the more I admire you for the quick progress you have made in circumstances which were far from ideal. Yesterday I spent in obtaining my Social Security card, getting the luggage through customs & collecting it, registering at the Consulate-General, etc. To-day I started on my first contacts for employment but have not yet obtained anything, altho' I have some further contacts now & am going to the Jewish Community Centre tomorrow morning. Myrna is also looking for employment but (up till 3pm. today) has not been successful.
Ashleigh, everything you have told me in your written suggestions have turned out to be right - with the exception of the "Over 40 Assocn" for which you have to be a citizen & which is unsuitable in many respects. Had it not been for Marsh I would have gone to the J. Com. Centre earlier. I also bought the $1.75 Street Guide which I find most useful. Have you any other suggestions?! - To-day in a small (very) cafe on Sunset Boulevard I was mistaken for Groucho Marx by a student of one of the colleges in the area - he is taking a degree in Education.
I hope you get this cheque (check) O.K., but I suppose you have to identify yourself as "A. Brilliant" besides endorsing the cheque before the Bank will pay.
Will write you details of any progress in due course.
Hope your teaching is going O.K. session [I was doing my student teaching at Upland High School, near Claremont] Love, Dad.
Friday 1:30 pm 2nd Nov [1956 From my father to me in Claremont]
832 S. Normandie,
L.A. 5 Cal. [This was an apartment they had taken, near my uncle Marsh's. My parents, sister, and grandmother were all living there.]
Your letter arrived this a.m. Thanks for your suggestions - I will note them all carefully.
The tea chests [used for packing] arrived only yesterday p.m. & I had to pay nearly $42 in charges. All your papers are in one chest with your books, & the remainder of your books in the 2nd chest - with a few of our things to fill it up. So I think it best to await your arrival before breaking the steel bands & emptying them; you can then take what you want with you. Incidentally are you sure you did not take the 4 parcels of books that were at Marsh's? because we can't find them anywhere. Myrna said she last saw them at Marsh's & did not bring them here. [Since this was intended to be a permanent move, my parents had brought with them everything I had left behind in their care, except what they decided to dispose of - which unfortunately included the bulk of my cherished collection of American comic-books]
Well, we have had a very worrying time since we arrived here; we have already assessed the employment situation & I know the L.A. Times ads almost by heart. The heartbreaking thing is that I can't get a job owing to my age even tho' I have reduced that by 10 years. I had practically landed one job but I was told to bring my birth certificate or passport to confirm (I was 45 for this one) so I did not take it up. Mother landed a job starting last Tuesday a.m. at $190 a month 8.a.m. to 4:30 pm, 5 day week, as a clerk-bookkeeper at Swett & Crawford [an insurance company] in the Tishman Bldg [a skyscraper on Wilshire Blvd.] less than 5 minutes away; she comes home to lunch. Mater finds it difficult to cope there but I think she will make it, as usual; she deals with insurance agents commission etc & says the work is extremely complicated - Myrna also obtained another job on Tuesday morning with increased pay of $275 per month. However, I have this a.m.obtained a job with the firm I first interviewed about a week ago - through the Jewish Community Employt at 590 Vermont - it is with the Gruen Lighting Co. at 8336 3rd St (just past Sweetzer) & the work is not really definite. I am more or less learning the business & will be right-hand man (or something like that) to the boss Mr. Gruen. It is an expanding Coy. but I will explain more to you when we meet - if I am still there! I am supposed to be trained for a big job in the offing. Time will tell! I'm getting $75 a week and after the heartbreaks I've had so far, I feel this is not too bad. We have already been thinking of returning to England, reluctantly , I will admit, because the climate here is superb. Ashleigh you and I have more in common than you think; I would also like to live in a small community where I could also work at some light job & enjoy the climate, but it looks rather hopeless so far. [The fact that my father was already writing in these tones, only about two weeks after having arrived, seems to indicate that his heart was not really in this whole venture.]
We are glad to hear of your selection as a delegate to a conference [not sure what this was] - this is a further step in the right direction. We often speak of how wonderfully you must have managed after your arrival here & what a struggle you must have had. We realize it more every day.
Of course, bring whomsoever you like here for Thanksgiving - any friend of yours is a friend of ours. We can't imagine who the mystery person can be - I imagine a Canadian as you say we all know your friend. We'll have a special turkey Thanksgiving dinner for the occasion, if we are still working. [I didn't go to L.A. for Thanksgiving, accepting instead an invitation from a family in nearby Ontario - and I can't remember whom I had intended to bring.]
Regarding your suggestion No. 2, we went to that Synagogue (Reform) on Wilshire near Western last Friday (the Mater, Myrna, Grandma & myself.) I spoke to Rabbi Magnin but wasn't greatly impressed. There was a special occasion that night when the boys & girls who were confirmed this year (I believe) attended; the girl lit the candles & the boy later read out a prayer. But the whole service seemed to us farcical & lacking in dignity in spite of the grandeur of the building & obvious wealth of the community and members. There was a collation [refreshments] for the boys & girls concerned & their families only, after the service. Did you make any contacts at this synagogue? -----
The hours I shall have to work are 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 a.m to 2 pm on Saturdays, & it will take me nearly an hour in travelling each way - maybe less when I find out bus & car times, etc. ---
If you particularly want any papers etc. sent we shall open the case & try & find them & send them on. You know, without me having to mention it, that you can always come here & welcome to stay, there is always a bed & a meal for you. You will have to let us know, though, as we shall have to make arrangements about leaving the key.
We haven't been anywhere except a few visits last week-end, as Mater is working all the time. What a life! At least we have the climate & that is what I mainly came for.
Mater is home now & busy cooking. At any rate we are eating well, we have two roast chickens going. Our main concern now is to get a cheaper rental & in a different district. If I get established at the Gruen Co, I think a small apartment nearer that spot would be preferable.
Next Saturday we are entertaining Myrna's former office colleagues for the evening. For next Friday evening we are invited to Harriet Leventhal's for dinner.
So much for now. Hope you get this tomorrow - let us know.
Love from all here. Dad.
[November 6 1956. From my parents in Los Angeles to me in
Claremont. Hand-written in pencil.
My mother writes first:]
Just got in & while Grandma is resting & I have an hour to myself (which is very rare these days) will spend part of it with you & get you up to date on your aged mater's business career etc -
Firstly thanks for your card found it on the mat & I guess if we all live to be 150 I will still enjoy reading anything you pen be it card - letter or verse you send me - I am sure if this heat wave continues over the week end you will enjoy your mountain [not sure what this refers to] better than L.A.
Pater sure needs encouragement - He confessed to me last night that these 3 weeks have been the most miserable to him - He does not like his job & thinks I can analyse that - This is a small business run by the owners & either one of them is always around - the wife a young person runs the office & Pater has to do what she tells him with very little explanation beforehand - If he had got into a large office with no immediate boss to watch him he would have been happier - However he must stick to it for awhile unless of course they fire him as unsuitable. The pay is excellent from what we hear from others - men of his age also with good backgrounds are working much harder in factories & for less ---
Now about me - You heard I got myself a job with an Insurance Co in the Tishman building just 5 min. from here [This may have been my mother's first full-time employment since before she got married in 1932] --- Well I cant say I liked or even understood the work - I was called a bookkeeper. Anyway our friend David Amsterdam (from England a full fledged chartered accountant -- & his wife is Kitty Harris's son-in-law's sister) - was shocked when he heard I was only getting $100 month, & said he was sure I could get more & he would ask around - He is with a big firm of accountants here & gets around - Anyway he spoke to Mr. Kashdan [?] at the [Jewish] Community Centre bldg 590 Vermont & there was an opening for a typist clerk at $250 & Mr. K agreed to give me the first chance. [It was through the same Community Center that I had got my camp counseling job.] I phoned & made arrangements to see Mr. K. Tues. aft, when we had ½ day off for the elections - our interview was quite informal & they gave me a typing test - at least their Supervisor Miss Boyle (a gentile) did & although it wasn't too good she thought I would do & Mr. K. Okayed it so I was in - Now I think I am with the Zionist organ. & we are now working on the pledge cards - there is an appeal going on - I am starting at the bottom but don't mind as I like being with a J. [Jewish] organization & may make contacts for Pater & Myrna - I start Monday & for the first time I am in a unionized office & have to pay $2.50 month dues & we punch a clock. Our hours are 8:30-5:15 & ¾ hour for lunch which we can have in the lovely non profit making cafeteria there - When I told my firm I was leaving they were genuinely sorry & I felt the same way. If Pater got into an office like that he would love it - the pay is poor but no pressure is exerted at all. By the way for all intents and purposes I am aged 42.
I left the off[ice] yest. at noon & collected a cheque for $55. which I think wonderful for 6 days work - To-day Marsh drove Gran & I down to get my social security card & then we went into the May Co - was I glad to get back [home] -
Remember Marjorie & Bernard Saul - they sent us a pass for 2 for a trade show to-nite - Maybe Myrna will take Gran - Myrna keeps saying she is changing her job - she finds letters about insurance very uninteresting [My sister never did find a job she was really happy with. She spent most of her long career in Los Angeles working as a "temp," usually as a switchboard operator] - We are not happy about this apt but how cool it is today. A smaller place would be unbearable --- Maybe Pater would like to write a few words - so long for now - Keep well & Happy [I think my mother unconsciously capitalized "Happy" because that had been the name of our dog in England, whom sadly they had given away when they left] - lets know about Thanksgiving - Myrna has asked 3 girls so I will be plenty busy with our Turkey & Trimmings - If ever there is anything particular you would like how can we send it ---? wish I had my typewriter would still get one if I can pick up a good used one for about $40. Lovingly A.
[Now my father writes, also by hand in pencil:]
We are now very slowly settling down to a routine, & as far as my job is concerned, every day resolves its own problems. I don't particularly like the set-up where I work but I suppose it could be much worse - in pay as well. Altho' I haven't been to Hollywood yet, I imagine I would like to live in that part, even if it meant coming in to L.A. to work. Myrna would like to live off the Miracle Mile -- & Mater anywhere, I suppose. I haven't even seen a beach here yet & that is what I thought we would be near to. However, the climate is wonderful, especially in the mornings when I walk partly to work. I walk to 6th & Normandie, catch a trolley bus to 3rd & Fairfax & walk 4 or 5 blocks to my place at 8336 3rd St. It takes, in all, about 40 mins. I could ride by street car to 8th & Western, then bus to 6th & Western & catch the bus there to Fairfax, but I hate the changing & I like the walk, & it doesn't take any longer really. [My father was used to commuting. His mostly underground trip to work in London could take an hour, if not more.]
I would like to see Claremont & wonder what it is like to live there. Any job there in the University for me?!! --- I find the atmosphere in L.A. trying to the eyes; I believe it is mainly owing to the car fumes. It gets into my throat even when it is quite clear. [Hadn't anybody warned them about the SMOG?]
We haven't unpacked any more tea-chests yet - We were awaiting your arrival, but I suppose we shall not see you now until Thanksgiving [Nov. 22] - if then?
As regards a car, to get a licence I have to take the driving test & when & where am I now going to be able to take driving lessons. Well, even that will resolve itself somehow.
Marsh has just come in & is taking us for a drive - Myrna theater wont be back from the show until late
So must close now.
[December __ 1956 From my parents to me in Claremont. Hand-written
My mother writes:]
Mr Cohn [Director of] Camp MS [Camp Max Straus, where I had been a counselor in the summer] came in to see me [at work] to ask for your phone no - He is supposed to call you to-night - You got the job for one week Xmas - I asked him - He thinks you are a very good worker And the children like you - so all is well God is good and success will be yours - you work for it
Waiting to see if your letter will be home
this is our aft coffee break 3:20 -3:30
[two notes added by my father]:
Cohn phoned as soon as mother got in & she gave him your number. Guess you've heard from him by now Dad
6:30 pm: Congratulations Ashleigh (Your letter has not yet arrived) Dad
[December 6 1956. From my mother. Hand-written in ink]
Thursday lunch time
Dearest A -
Just got through my lunch 12:45 - want to get this off for your birthday [Dec. 9] - You know what we wish for you - I can't believe you will be 23 when I can still feel the labour pains -
[Different pen] Am home now & just finished dinner -
Looks as if I am the only one happy in my job - Pater still hates his but there aren't any prospects so he stays on - I spoke to the employment man at our place several times & he said it is difficult in L.A. for a man with Paters background to get the type of position he merits [My father's entire career had been as a professional British Civil Servant]- He could send Pater on Bookeepers jobs but the pay is only $60-$65. Myrna could get placed every day but she won't work for insurance companies and about 6 other kinds She gets the odd few days at temporary places -
We phoned Toronto last night - Amy's only brother Morris, the reputed millionaire passed away & Gert and Amy [my mother's only sister Gertrude and her husband known as Amy] flew to Florida & then they took the body to Montreal for burial near his wife - Gert & Amy stayed for the shiva week [traditional Jewish 7 days of heavy mourning] - maybe you would like to drop Amy a line - He was very close to his brother when they were young - [I didn't know this brother, or anyone in Amy's family.]
We entertained last night 2 couples - The Jubases friends of Eva Woolfson [a Toronto friend of my mother's] & the Djanoglis friends of the Paters [friends from Edgware. They had lived on our block, and their son Martin was now living in L.A.]. Mrs. D. is flying to England in Feb for the birth of her first grandchild -
Hope you are enjoying your [student] teaching - also that your friend car is running smoothly -
We are enclosing this $5 for a treat on us - or anything else that you want to do with it - I feel rich everytime a pay day [comes] round -
Grandma Brilliant's birthday is Dec 18th - am sending her a card from you & M along with ours & if you like you can air mail her - she will be 88 bless her & that is something to be proud of -
Grandma Adler complains all the time & is thinking of going back to Toronto - she said she got rheumatism here - she is only happy when she is out & about all the time - If I were home it would be different.
Well dear all I can say is that thank God we are eating & sleeping well - if only Pater got a job that he could be happy at -
We did go with Madeline De Sant to a musical evening a week ago Monday - We did enjoy it until the plate came around & we had to pay $1. each - they served tea coffee and cake - a very nice crowd - what a racket that man has that runs it - a few evenings a week he holds various evenings & gets $1. each - so he clears at least $25 an eve in his own home - it isn't always music - one night a talk on Spinoza etc.
Well am going out for a little walk now - Have a nice birthday & enjoy yourself - Love & all the best from us -
Bless you & keep you healthy wealthy & wise - Your loving - Mother A
[Sunday, January 6 (?), 1957 Los Angeles, [typed] To me in
This is a very quiet Sunday indeed for us. I haven't been out of doors.
Yesterday Pater and I went to Cooks [travel agency] and we have almost booked our passages, we are waiting to see if they can get us on the Q.E. [Queen Elizabeth] April 3, or the United States April 2nd. So at least we will get back for some nice weather, we hope.
We have decided to get Myrna a T.V. for her 21st birthday so she will have one no matter where she is and we are going to get it now so we can all enjoy it and are only sorry we did not think of it before. Tonight we could sure do with some entertaining. I spoke to Martin Pater and he is going to see what he can do for us, he told us when we saw him last that he would get anything for us at a reduced price. [It was partly through this Martin Pater that I had decided to emigrate to California. I had seen him in Edgware during a visit he made back to see his parents, and he had told me there was a teacher shortage in California, so it should be easy for me to get a job there.]
Today we had a dealer looking at our silver but of course his price was not enough. We will advertise it next week and hope for good results.
Things with us and Marsh are the same, I speak to him on the phone or when we meet but that is all. He is probably waiting for me to apologize for telling him to get the H$$p [sic] out of here but up to now I don't feel like it, and it hurts me terribly. Pater went over there last week after you left I think with the bronzes and stayed 5 minutes. [Squabbles of this kind were very common in my mother's family. Sometimes, over some minor matter, close relatives didn't speak to each other for years.]
We get loads of mail and Grandma B[rilliant]'s letters get better all the time. She strongly advises us to return for financial and health benefit reasons chiefly and she has something there. [I'm not sure about the financial reasons, but the British National Health Service, which had been in effect less than a decade, provided most health care free.] No doubt she hears HiGeorge [Hilda and George, whom she lived with] discussing us etc. etc.
Hope you like these socks, if you do we will get you a few pairs, they are the most expensive you can buy, $1.50 pair, but if they wear well it is worth paying that much. Dacron is what you told me wasn't it? Is there anything else you need?
Hope everything is going along nicely, our feelings are so mixed with all this changing and arranging I can't concentrate anymore.
Love and all the best, A
The enclosed socks are a belated birthday present from me.
Like my new job fairly well. Maybe I will stay long enough to get my pension. Myrna
I opened this sealed letter to enclose the Portcastrian Club circular letter that George sent us - it was left at 226 Old Xchurch Road. [10 years earlier, when we first returned to England from our war years in Washington D.C, I had for several months, been a pupil at Portchester Road School in Bournemouth. This Portcastrian Club - (the name from at Latinized form of Portchester) -- which I don't think I ever had anything to do with -- was no doubt for former pupils. The Brilliant family fur shop and residence in Bournemouth was at 226 Old Christchurch Road.]
[January 10, 1957. Los Angeles. To me in Claremont CA. First part from my mother, typed.]
this is Thurs 8:10 A.M., so here I am. Thanks for your card and glad to hear that all is well. We wondered how you were faring with your diet, well if you saw Kal Murphy Obrien it is almost unbelievable, she is not the same girl. Now she just cuts down on everything. Doctor told her she must try and eat more, no fooling and she can't get it down. The main thing is to get your tummy use to smaller portions, then it becomes a habit just like big portions, everything is rhythmic. [I don't remember this person.]
Did we have David Amsterdam's [a family friend or relative, from England, who was an accountant] typewriter when you went home, well Dave called for it the other night and said he would bring it back again when he had finished with the Tax. bus. I had a bright idea& asked him if he would store your tea chest of books and he said yes, his garage is high and dry so now that worry is over and you know that they will be secure. They just had this home built in Reseda. Of course there is the distance, but how often would you be going over to see your books. Anyway once you tell us this is okay then we will try to get the books over, he also has 6 empty tea chests, so we would take the things over in cases and repack them there. Let us know, as we never can tell when someone may take us for a drive and we can start shifting.
We are fine T.G. but Pater looks awful & now that we have a definite booking from Cooks for the Q.E. April 3rd, he keeps saying he hates leaving the climate here etc. etc. Before he had the booking he kept on how he hated it, so I just listen and wonder. It is the future that is on his mind and he is so used to his secure little niche and easy life in the U.K. and truthfully he could settle here if we had a nice home. Anyway maybe it is best that we go back and he gets things more settled in his own mind. The heartache is Myrna but she is so looking forward to living in her own apt. that she could not care less. Thank God she loves her job and will stay on.
Now socks, I asked you to let me know if they were the correct size and how you liked them as we wanted to get you more, but I will get some others that I have seen advertised and send them on. Also let me know what else you need.
Big news, we bought a 21 in. Philco TV for Myrna for her 21st. We got a very good buy on a used one, $100, including a year's guarantee. We had called a firm that advertised new ones and I spoke to the salesman that called on us last Sunday who happened to be a nice J. chap and asked him about a used one, well he was waiting to install a coloured T.V. into the original actor's home (Roy Rogers) & he had to sell the guy's old set first so we went right over to the house and saw it like it and brought it away. He had just 10 days previously had it overhauled, new picture tube etc. It is a console model and a good looking piece. Now Myrna won't be bored in her spare time.
We loaned our apt. to a G.F. [girl friend] of hers to have a party Sat. night. Well it poured here all day Sat. but we left the apt. to the kids and they had some time. It seems there is a grape vine system and Myrna said the phone never stopped ringing, "Is there a party tonight, can we come, can we bring some boys, can we bring some girls, and they had more gate crashers than the invited. Some just came to look at the women and wine, anyway I think it was a success although not M's type of crowd. This girl works in her office and was a Polish refugee, but she knows how to get the boys and promised dates for M. but you know M. she just freezes them away. When we got home one chap that introduced himself said to us, Myrna puts on a superior air that repels people, but we know it is not that. They all said she was a very good hostess. She loves parties and we want to make her a surprise 21st, when I get the time will get down to it. Could you come in with your boy friend [Not sure who this was] that weekend. Guess Mater [my grandmother] could sleep over at Marsh's & you could have her room. Have you any good ideas. The apt. is fine for a party.
Your friend Madeline DeSant phoned told me she had heard from you and is going to do her best about a girl friend. [I had responded to her offer to help me find someone - but she actually never did]. She also invited us to a FABULOUS party which she will be giving in Long Beach in Feb. for some visitor. Well I just listened, we can't get out to Long Beach and I should have asked her how much, as all these affairs they want something.
We had a big surprise last night. Marsh brought over Ann and Sandra [Ann Pifco was an old friend from Toronto. Sandra was her daughter] they are here on a trip and will stay 2 weeks so we will be seeing them. [This apparently helped to patch up the rift between my mother and her brother Marsh.]
[Second part in my father's hand in ink]:
Sunday Morning [January 13, 1957]
Pouring with rain (as I suppose it is in Claremont)
Yesterday evening we took Ann to dinner at Canter's [well-known Jewish restaurant] in Fairfax [district of Los Angeles] & then went on to Hollywood Bullavard. [Sic. My father was, I think, mocking American pronunciation] to show her the sights; waiting for buses rather spoilt our outing as it turned a little cold. Myrna went to join Sandra at the Statler Hotel for dinner - Sandra wasn't too well. In the afternoon Mater & I spent a pleasant time going to the Santa Monica area near Centinela & visiting the host of antique shops there. We sold $25 worth of bits & pieces. We intend to sell whatever we can here - we can always replace it, probably at less price, when we return, & we shall save the bother & expense of packing it up as luggage. By the way, did you contact that place in Pomona? [?]
Let us know immediately if the arrangement with David [Amsterdam] is O.K; at least it would be a permanent place for your things as they have recently bought the house & are there to stay. Time is getting short now before we leave & I have to make arrangements & do the packing up as the luggage has to be sent on weeks before we leave here perhaps.
Is there anything that you need which we can get for you?
Last Sunday we had two couples for supper. Today we shall be glad of the T.V.
[Now in my mother's hand, in ink:]
3:30 - Darling rain has stopped we are just going over to Von's [market] - Hope you are having some fun as well as work. Good luck in everything.
[January 19, 1957 hand-written in ink. Los Angeles. From my
mother to me in Claremont California]
Saturday 10 A.M.
[I had sent a clipping of an article about me published in the Upland News on January 17, 1957.]
No need to tell you how thrilled & proud we are - what a wonderful photo - have you any more like that - or was it taken especially - The girls at the office just drooled when they saw it - you look older - please dear send us on a few as Pate & Mate would each like to carry one around - Also I am just sending off a letter to Helen Goldsmith [another girlhood Toronto friend, now living in Baltimore]-- & I said I would ask you to send one along to her direct - just enclose with greetings - I haven't any ulterior motive but she has a gorgeous daughter Estelle who is just finishing her nurses course - Brilliant & beautiful - anyway Helen & I have been good friends & she is so interested in you & Myrna
address keep this permanently in case you ever get to Baltimore - Mrs. H. Goldsmith 4003 Barrington Rd Baltimore 7 Maryland
You know their son has done exceptionally well he is now resident specialist at Walter Reed Hosp Washington & married the daughter of an important doctor in Baltimore -
Now for us - things are the same - Ann Pifco & Sandra leave Wed - Ann was here for din dins last night - tonight we are going to "Beverly Hilton" to have dinner with them - Sunday we are having Harriet & Barbara Leventhal & others for evening - Pater is going after work today to see if he can sell a few more odds & ends - He certainly seems in better spirits since he booked our passage - but now keeps harping on "am I doing right" Certainly I have nothing to go back for - my heart will always be with you & Myrna & I can't see how we can be happy constantly thinking about you both - but my duty is to go with Pater - I can't be like other wives who tell me they would not return etc etc - I have a feeling after one winter in England we will be on our way here again - but you have heard me say all this -
Marsh [he was a professional dress designer] has been wonderful to Ann & San[dra] - he loves when he can dictate to people & they will do what he wants them to - so as Ann has the dough & is so conscious about clothes and body care he is arranging everything for her from brassiers to baths - he calls buyers for her etc etc & she loves it & so does he as it gives him an in - It is all BUSINESS that is America - you wash my hands & I'll do yours -
Guess Marsh was ashamed of us - I don't blame him - he kept on in every letter [i.e. before we came over] don't buy anything & I thought he had a wardrobe ready & waiting for me anyway - I haven't bought anything decent here & am wearing clothing I discarded years ago We packed our china in them - prices here are too high for good things & I am not working to buy clothing - I want to save my own fare at least -
We are very busy at the office - sometimes I think I am so dumb & other times think it remarkable that I can hold my own - there is so much detail & coming fresh from the kitchen like I did took a little something I think. Our supervisor Gwendolyn Boyle has been patient. What a brain she has - a Scotland Yard type - has every situation well in hand -
Well want to get a letter off to Gert [her sister in Toronto] then shopping - Myrna & Grandma are sleeping - Use the enclosed $5 from Pate & Mate to get something - If you get socks only get the best - M. paid $1.50 for the last I think they are DACRON don't pay more - if you can't get them let me know - we got them at the May Co. Maybe they have a branch - I keep asking do you need anything? don't neglect your undies - I will gladly stock you up on new things before we leave as a trousseau - You buy what you need - we will pay - we can't send anything from England -
Cal Murphy Obrien has been home all week dangerously ill -
asthma - pneumonia & what not - as I said you can't suddenly
cease giving your body the nourishment it has been accustomed
to - you can give it less but you can't stop completely - she
may be a very sick girl for sometime - no resistance
Love & Kisses
We sent on your W.2 [tax] form from the Big Brothers [Jewish
philanthropic organization - my camp-counselor-job employers]-
Pater said being a student you get it all back so make necessary
nice little nest egg - we will get all ours back
Can you send a clipping to Gert & Grandma Brilliant?
[Friday February 1 1957 Handwritten in ink. From my mother to me in Claremont]
Dearest Ash -
This is Friday almost midnite. Pate & Myrna are watching film on T.V. We had company to-night - Sydney Harris & Sister Leah & husband - they always recall you and Brian visiting them in New York - [In the summer of 1951 at age 17 I had hitch-hiked with a school-friend, Brian Richmond, from New York to Los Angeles and back.]
Mazeltov - am I thrilled about your typewriter - almost as if I had bought it - I am so pleased that I want you to accept it as your next birthday gift P.G. from Mater -- & here is to good happy typing - it is an essential & you will do very well - Far better than I ever did, once you know the keys it is only practice & you will get better & better [My mother loved to type, and was very proud of her skill. I was taking night classes in typing at Chaffey College in Ontario, and had just bought my first machine] - take it from me you will never be out of a job anywhere if you can type - Lordy how are [you] going to find time to do all the things you have lined up is a miracle - Good luck dear & hope you are mixing some fun in with your work - Let us know how your exam was -
Hope your dental trouble will be slight - Too bad they don't have cut rates for students or a dental school to go to -Little do people here realize all the advantages we have in the old fashioned world - I take good care of my dentures and glasses -
M had a nice Girl friend in to dinner Wed - she may drive us out to Davids [David Amsterdam, who had agreed to store my things] one weekend with the books - we are going there by bus this Sunday to see the Rose family (Kit Harris sister etc) that arrived here we hope to-day - The awful air disasters shook me - They were flying from New York -
Myrna also had a blind date last Monday but was not thrilled - said she had analysed it and "he was too old" "too English" and too too etc - he looked about 31 - I understand he wants to take her out again but she told me if he did call & I answered to say she would be out forever - It is up to her -
Received letter from Helen [Goldsmith] in Baltimore & she writes how gorgeous [her daughter] Stella [or Estelle?] looked at a family wedding - she is 5/9 & beautiful colouring & Helen would like to see her wed - she will be 20 - Did I give you the address - I seem to think I forgot to fill in the number which I was going to look up - 4003 -- Barrington Rd -- Baltimore 7 - Md -
We would still like to see Claremont Pomona [Pomona is a larger town near Claremont] etc - Pater is off tomorrow & we will try to sell more things - Last Sat. he sold some jewelry at almost 100 % profit - It is the only way to make money - buy & sell [My mother's parents, and many other relatives in Toronto, were or had been in the "second hand" business] - The silver tray is our biggest worry - I have always maintained it is better to buy smaller cheaper articles - you can always find a buyer but luxury items take time to dispose of - Pearl Bogat is buying the tea service. Did you ever ask the dealer about the tray etc?
It is past midnight now - yes it has been cold & wet here - Ann & Sandra had wretched weather & were glad to leave on Wednesday -
Our love & all the best wishes, A.
We are very busy at the office - It does not affect me so much - sometimes I feel like a step-child - only the experienced staff are in on the excitement - I do mostly the preparatory work & odd jobs - Monday I am relieving the woman in charge of the volunteers during her breaks & lunch - This will be permanent until I leave I think.
Tuesday, Feb. 5th, 1957 [From me to my Parents in Los Angeles.
Typed carbon copy.]
1060 N. College Ave.
Thanks so much for your gift, received yesterday. I certainly am in no position to decline it. A little toothache has led to a $56 dental bill. But I have also learned that I will get a $55 rebate on last year's income tax, so all is not lost. My typing classes start this evening.
On Saturday I took my big M.A. qualifying exam. Don't know the results yet, but I imagine I just scraped through. Even if I failed, however, I can always take it again.
My student teaching is over now, and I am just observing at Upland High for the final week. I'm beginning to wonder about future plans. I don't really want to take up high school teaching, but to go on for a PhD. would take another 3 years, and of course I couldn't even do that unless I won another scholarship somewhere. What's more, I am getting to the stage where I really would like to settle down.
The dealer I had in mind wasn't interested in my Israeli calendar, or in your silver tray, nor was another one that I went to.
Enclosed are some more copies of that clipping. I have recently written air-letters to Bournemouth, Toronto, Mort & Nan, and the Kings, so you can send them the clippings next time you write ordinary mail. [Enclosures were not permitted with air-letters.]
I took this typewriter into an office equipment firm in Pomona, and they said that in their opinion it didn't need any repair or adjustment at all, not even a new ribbon; they thought I had had a very good bargain for $25.
Thanks again & cheerio for now,
P.S. I did send a clipping to the Goldsmiths.
Monday Feb 11 [1957 From my Father, Victor Brilliant, to me in Claremont. Hand-written in ink]
832 S. Normandie L.A. 5
11 pm Dear Ashleigh,
I expect we shall have a letter from you tomorrow but want to get the enclosed packet (received a couple of days ago) off to you without further delay. I imagine it is someone's wedding cake - David Steel's probably [friend and room-mate in 1954-5 while I was attending University College, London]. Hope you received the Mater's M.O. [money order] O.K.
On Saturday Mike Stein, a newcomer to our firm, drove me with your 2 cases of books to [David Amsterdam's house in] Reseda. He came here on the Friday evening, stayed to dinner, & called on his way to business the following morning & we loaded his car with several suitcases full of your books papers and other belongings which I had transferred from the two tea chests you saw here. When we got to Reseda I transferred the contents again into 2 tea chests which David Amsterdam had in his garage, so all your stuff is now there. The two tea chests with all your belongings are only a little more than half full, and, for convenience, I am telling you that most of the books are in the one numbered 4, & most of your papers & other odds & ends are in chest No. 5. The two files* of "letters received" & "letters sent" are in the bottom of No. 4 - Enclosed is a rough list of items (the main ones) in case you want to know what you have. The lids are nailed down on the cases.
I daresay I could tell you all this when we meet but you might as well know now in case you want anything. Your B.A. Exam papers & other papers of essays etc, I kept here in case you want them; they don't take up much room & you can take them back with you when you come here.
I finish up at Gruens on Friday. If I can get a part time job for a few weeks or less I may take it, but I shall need some time for making arrangements for our return and also for Mater and me to look around & make the most of our stay on this side of the Atlantic.
Had a reply from the Board of Trade today [The U.K. government department in which my father worked] - they have agreed to my request for 3 weeks extension of unpaid leave, in fact, they have given me 4 days more if I want it; I shan't take too much advantage of that as it is unpaid leave anyway!
David Amsterdam's address is: 6319 BOVEY AVENUE, RESEDA, CALIF. PHONE: Dickens 3-2878.
Hope all is well with you. Good luck with your exams results
Love from all here
* There are other items packed into these file cases: A box of paper money (foreign) & coins & other items which I shoved in to save space when I packed them
[February 14 1957 From my mother Hand-written in pencil (first paragraph) and ink].
so sorry you had to write again - your letter arrived the day after Pater mailed yours - It took a week - we don't know where it got to - some other mail also seemed to take a long time - however now we got a double dose of your news - I am confident you will work out all your problems - finance is always the biggest one - we will try to leave you $200 so you will have a reserve fund which we know you want to spend on candy -
As soon as you know your M.A. results, let us know - I'll bet you got through -
Well I guess everyone at 590 Vermont [the Jewish Community Center] knows we are going back to England - The personal [sic] mgr. Mr. Kashdan told me I could always get a job with them if we came back - he said they will always have kind thoughts about us. I am glad to say all firms that have employed me have said the same - So your aged Mater can't be so dopey - Truthfully sometimes I have felt as if I was the dumbest one there -
I will be leaving Friday March 15 - Pater will be home doing nothing - I think he could get at least part time with some tax firm -
I did my good deed for the day - Myrna's friend Ruth Bass got a job at our place & one of the better type ones - I told her to apply -- & spoke to the personal man afterwards & he told me she will start on Monday -
A chap from Pater's office would drive us down to see you on a Saturday & take us back - we would not stay over night - anyway it won't be for 2 weeks - now - I am sure you will be coming in before we leave here March 28 -
I just can't believe it - like I never believed we were coming here - our whole life has been like a dream - wish we could all go somewhere for a nice week end but just punk Pater is not working but we shall see - [meaning not clear to me]
Meanwhile don't worry too much - take time out for leisure and pleasure - Glad you met some nice people -
It has been hot here - Pater must dash out with this before 7
One letter you said you felt like settling down - this one you want a change of scene - Maybe you will get a scholarship to Sanford [sic] P.G.
My theme song now is "Whatever will be will be"
I can't worry any more. You have taken such good care of yourself that I have ceased worrying - all we want is your happiness - Don't worry - please - so far everything has come your way & you can always count on your loving
Mate & Pate
[Feb. 24 1957 from my mother and father. Handwritten in ink.
Mother's part first]:
Saturday nite at home
Want to mail this tomorrow - Myrna got an apt yest Alexandra & 3rd & will be moving after the 1st March - She is busy packing & asking for this & that - we will leave her as many of our things as possible. She has to supply all her own linens & dishes etc - She took a single - 1 large room with roll away bed & a kitchen & bathroom -- $57.50 - everything included except telephone - she hopes to be able to have our tel. no. transferred - I am sure she will make out okay - It will be all new and exciting & she is already planning 2 aptwarmings -
We had 2 of the chaps pater used to work with for dinner last night - Mike 21 an ex G.I. & Ezra 28 & Israeli - Myrna seemed very at ease with them - Mike had to leave early but Ezra stayed on - I got 3 tickets for the Israeli basketball team that are playing here Monday night - so Myrna & her g.F friend [sic] are going & I gave Ezra the other one - Ruth got a nice position with our organization - I told her to apply - she had been out of work for 2 weeks & was very dispirited - she got into the executive office which is about the best there -
Tomorrow we may be going over to see the Rose family - they had to take an unfurnished flat in the Crenshaw district - they could not get a furnished 2 bedroom under $150 - John got a position in Burbank in a mens ready to wear shop - The elder Mr. Rose has a promise of something -
Mike will not be able to drive us to Pomona next Sat so we are thinking of coming down by bus or train - Pater is going to make enquiries as soon as this T.V. is over - I fall asleep when I sit too long. Last week we saw "Giant" & liked it very much -
We have a few more things of yours that we would bring down - of course even if we come down next weekend that should not stop you coming in to see us before we leave - you will want to see Grandma - there will be more room here when M. leaves -
Pater phoned, the bus line fares are $1.20 each way & only to Pomona - so if you think it worth while for us to come you could pick us up at Pomona - buses leave every half hour - We shall wait to hear what you think before we make final arrangements - you should get this Tuesday latest & answer right away & if there isn't time to answer you we could phone you Friday evening - Could be Mike may yet be able to take us.
[In my father's hand]:
(Dad now) but not next week (Sat) as he is working. I finished up at work last Friday week, the 15th ; I have since made most of the arrangements for our return to UK We now think we would like to leave here on Tuesday, March 26th, so that we can spend a couple of days longer in New York. Mater [my grandmother] is returning with us as far as Chicago - she may have someone to meet her there for the return to Toronto - We keep on turning out a few things that you might find useful or that are yours & things that we don't want to send back - nothing very bulky. When do you think you may be coming to L.A. again? Anyway, if you would like us to go down to Pomona next Saturday, please let us know by return, & we will make plans accordingly.
John Rose is calling for us soon after 5 pm today to take us to their apartment for the evening. They live at 4115 Somerset Drive, L.A. 8, near Crenshaw & Sta Barbara Avenues. (Phone AX 5-3889) Make a note of this. Mrs. Rose (Carol) is Kitty Harris' daughter, & her husband John is a brother to David Amsterdam's wife! When you are in L.A. sometime get in touch with them, they will be very glad, indeed, to see you, they are wonderful people.
Hoping you are well, & waiting to hear from you. Love from us all here
P.S. If there is anything special you want brought to you if we come, pl. let us know.
Wednesday, 11 a.m. 27th [Feb 1957 From my father. Hand-written
832 S. Normandie L.A. 3
Your two cards received yesterday & glad we shall see you here this week-end.
As Monday is Myrna's 21st birthday, we are celebrating by going to dinner & show (special) Is it possible for you to stay over until Tuesday for the Monday night celebration? Of course, don't give up any work for it. If you can't stay maybe we will have to go out on Saturday. Anyway, this is just to let you know & for you to make any arrangements, if necessary.
Looking forward to seeing you on Friday.
[March 10 1957 From my mother and father. Hand-written in
We are at a bus stop in San Marino having just had sodas after seeing the Huntington Museum etc. Pater & Myrna are sitting next to me. It is a beautiful clear day & we have enjoyed it -
Was glad to hear your voice over the phone last Sunday - I had a restful night - [I probably phoned after driving back to Claremont.]
How would you like us to come out to see you next Sunday -- my birthday & then we can say au revoir - we will have dinner together somewhere & you can show us around - We will make all the enquiries at the bus station when we go back -- & I will add the info.
Yesterday I worked overtime 5 hours. There was a terrific error made in hundreds of invitations for mailing so we had to open up every letter & start from scratch again - It must have cost the Council $100 at least in wages for 5 girls. They are very extravagant when they have any cash - One must not spend up to the hilt - I don't think you and Myrna would live like that - How Ned [her younger brother, living in Ottawa] does after Grandmas training beats me.
We walked Myrna home Friday night & had tea with her - well I liked the bldg & her apt much better than that night we moved her - She loves it & seems very happy - Her kitchen has everything --.
I finish work on Friday & I think I will leave a good name & they will remember me -- Changing around to see the various depts. gave me a chance to know more people -
I hope we get a bus back - more people keep coming to this waiting hut -
Last night we & another English lady were entertained by Betty & Joe Hoch - friends we met through some other English people - they had about 6 other couples & us over to a very bountiful buffet supper - This other English lady came out to her son who only emigrated about a year ago - he is in electronics - no qualifications but has done very well - He paid all his mothers expenses out here - please God by us. [i.e. may the same sort of thing happen to us] The mother is returning in April also but via Montreal.
[Now my father]:
11 p.m. at 832 S. Normandie.
We had to wait until 5:30 for a bus home & it took just over ½ an hour. We made enquiries at the coach station for next Sunday, & there are two coach routes we can choose from - they both go via Pomona Station. Now here are the morning times of the two coach routes:
Leave L.A. at Arrive Pomona Stn.
(1) 8.20 about 9.40
9.20 '' 10.40
10.20 '' 11.40
11.18 '' 12.42
(2) 8.52 '' 10.00
9.52 '' 11.00
10.52 '' 12.00
11.52 '' 1.00
The fare is $2.22 each return.
If you would like us to come let us know what is the most convenient time for you to meet us at Pomona Station. No (2) goes via Claremont Station but I am sure you wouldn't mind meeting us at Pomona Station. Anyway, pl. drop us a line & let us know.
We are invited out to a reception Wednesday evening; it is being given for Lily Montagu's Secretary & a large number of people will be there. Lily M is, as you probably know, the head of Reform Shool [Reform Synagogue -- the least orthodox wing of Judaism] in England.
11 a.m. Monday morning
Just going to the mail now with this - you should get it Tuesday.
Hope all is well with you
[March 22, 1957
Mother writing by hand]
Friday 1 A.M.
Dearest Ash -
Pater is busy roping down our trunks so it is a very late night for us - We had company - firstly Martin Pater dropped in at 7 & had some supper with us - then our friends the Trues & Kalms came - Kalms is a brother to the owner of Dixons the camera shop Station Rd. Edgware.
Sorry I could not write you before to say how much we enjoyed that few hours we had with you & Claremont - It was one of our greatest thrills here & we are sorry we did not come down sooner & on a week day to see more of the students & the activities - we have told everybody about it - lucky boy -- & I mean it.
Was out shopping this A.M. & hope these socks will give you lots of pleasurable wear - They haven't a great variety in colour so chose what I thought best - if they are as strong as they claim to be you should not have to go barefoot for some time - I will enquire about Dacron in England - I can keep you well supplied with socks & anything else - Just write & ask for what you need -
A great weight has been lifted from our minds - We heard from the Brenners [friends in England] to-day we can stay with them again in their lovely home at Stanmore - This will give us time to look around for a suitable apt. We paid them £4- wkly & had a wonderful room & all kitchen privileges & it was ideal - so our address will be c/o Brenner 76 London Rd. Stanmore Middx [Middlesex]-
I received my reference from the L.A.J.C.C. [Los Angeles Jewish Community Center] & I am very proud of it & wish I could read it from the City Hall Steps - It is very gratifying to know they thought I did a good job - Believe me I felt very inadequate at times but struggled on -
Pearl & Arch [Bogat, in New York] are waiting & so willing to have us - Charlotte Hershman is making a "do" on Sunday - I have a days shopping to do so the few days will pass all too quickly -
To-night Myrna is having some of her old office friends in to meet us - the Council crowd. Myrna has been a little upset - Her apt has been invaded by pests called water bugs - they are about an inch in size with a hard back - poor kid was terrified. Anyway they have had the exterminators in & are trying to get rid of them - otherwise she seems Happy [sic] -
I am still receiving birthday & farewell cards [her birthday was March 17] - we received quite a letter from Ned [My uncle Ned (Nathan) Adler was married to my aunt Dodie (Doris). They had two young children, my cousins Ricky and Mark. When I visited them in 1951, Ned was doing sales work in an Ottawa department store] - He sure has been through a tough period - they were down to zero & debts to pay - However he now has a job with a reduced pay packet but no responsibility - He has low blood pressure which causes him to be depressed & his hands are so swollen he found it an effort to write - now this made me laugh - they haven't any funds yet Gert wrote on Sunday the 17th - phone rang & Ricky & Mark sang a telegram "Happy Birthday" to Aunty Gert & it was Aunty Amel's birthday - HA HA - The Ned Adlers don't know how to economize - [It would have been a more expensive "long distance" call from Ottawa to Toronto.]
Pat & Dennis & daughter [Dennis Berman, a doctor (or perhaps then still a doctor in training) was a brother of my Aunt Sylvia, wife of my father's brother Leonard] will meet us at Chicago - Pat flies back to England in May with the baby - Dennis follows later - they are very homesick she writes -
Will add more tomorrow - good night dear -
Friday - 11 AM
darling just going to mail this at the Ambassador [Hotel] & then meet Myrna at the Brown Derby for some black bottom pie & coffee -
Received letter from Eva "Ah" Ein [? This may have been some family joke about the way Eva talked. Eva Ein was another of my mother's many girlhood friends, then living in Montreal] - they are very worried - Sig [Eva's son Sigmund] can't get into a college so far - quota very limited for J's [Jews] - I feel very sorry for them - some of his friends have been accepted.
Au revoir 1/3 of my heart - hope we will soon meet again at a joyous time for all - don't ever worry - we will help you in every way possible - just let us know - you don't have to hoard anything - just take care of your health - I know the opportunities here are unlimited - you need never go hungry or barefoot - If I got a job & did well anyone can - Here's to the best of everything & a wonderful future
Alway [sic] onward EXCELSIOR - believe me dear my problem is greater than any you have yet faced - going back & leaving my other 2/3 of my heart here & all my family & starting a new life again & no matter how many friends we have or whatever we do you and Myrna will always be in my thoughts - Also how is Pater going to settle down now - the winters & what they may bring all over again [My father suffered from Asthma and Bronchitis, usually much more severely in the winter] - so I must grin & bear it -
Write whenever you can if only a few lines - hope you get fixed up for the summer
All our blessings
A -- Keep in close touch with Myrna
you need each other - she will forward on our letters -
[Enclosed in my mother's hand, a copy of her reference letter:]
March 20 1957
To Whom It May Concern:
Mrs. Amelia Brilliant worked for us as a clerk-typist from Nov. 12 1956 to March 15, 1957.
During that time Mrs. Brilliant was engaged in several of our departments in connection with a fund raising campaign for the United Jewish Welfare Fund.
In both typing and clerical work we found Mrs. Brilliant to be efficient and accurate. In her relationship to other people we found her to be a very fine person, conscientious willing and hard-working at all times.
We would recommend Mrs. Brilliant highly for any work of a similar nature.
Los Angeles Jewish Community Council
Isaac Kashdan, Personnel Director
[In the same letter, from my father]
11 am. Friday. 22nd March 
I will just say "so long" and hope the time will not be too long before we meet again. As you may well understand I go back with very mixed feelings but trust that all will turn out for the best. It is almost a literal truth to say that I don't know whether I'm coming or going. However, when I am in my old routine (if that will ever be possible now) I daresay I shall be able to work things out satisfactorily
So, Ash, Good luck, Good Health and Prosperity in all your undertakings, whatever they may be. Let Nil Desperandum also be your motto.