life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

bubba meister time

When Dora finally got here, she was determined to be an American.   She lived in Haarlem initially.  It was the 1920's, so she bought modern clothes and cut her hair into a bob.  She and her sister Shirley signed up for classes to learn English, but Shirley would get sick on the trolley and they'd have to get they dropped out of the class and essentially taught themselves to speak, read and write English.  she wanted to be a performer in what was then the thriving Yiddish theater, but her father would not allow it.

So she got a factory job.  Or several, actually.  This was post-Triangle Shirtwaist fire, so conditions inside the factories of NYC were not as dire as they'd been earlier in the century, but still, it was hard work.

I know that at one point she worked for Sunshine Biscuits in Long Island City.

but the job she spoke about the most was in a lampshade factory. She convinced them she knew how to operate the sewing machines, when in actuality she had never used those machines.  She did quite well there,   stayed for several years, and ultimately quit the job when they asked to to work a machine that was so loud and noisy it gave her a headache.

She liked to tell the story about the factory owner's daughter.  The owner was a German Jew, and he was very concerned because his daughter was unable to find a husband.  Apparently the young lady was pretty, but didn't dress as modern young women of the 1920's were dressing.  He asked Dora, a fashionable young lady, to take his daughter out and "modernize" her.  So Dora took her shopping, bought her some new clothes, and then took her to a barber to have her hair cut in a bob.  Apparenlty this was just what the young lady needed, because shortly thereafter she men a man, married and had a baby.

Don't you wish all your problems could be solved with a makeover?

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