banner banner t is a difficult task to reconcile the parents I knew so well as I was growing up with the young man and woman who wrote these delicate negotiations of lovers. To all outward appearances they are not the same people. My mother was twenty-six when the correspondence began and my father was thirty-eight. I am much older than that now, and I look back across the years trying to imagine how they must have felt. The woman who appears so feisty and self-assured in her letters must have been terrified of leaving the warm security of her family and venturing forth on a journey to the new world to take up housekeeping with a man who was little more than a stranger. It may well be that Eva and Morris had not actually met more than four or five times before she sailed for the States to be married. As Eva writes, "I am taking a very big risk." Her hesitation was well founded because, as it turns out, Eva never saw her mother again.

Morris, at the time of writing these letters, was living with his father in a cold-water flat in Brooklyn . It must have been an unrewarding existence. He had little money. His work consisted of long hours of drudgery. His social life, aside from the deaf club, was probably less than satisfying. The prospect of a young and beautiful bride was, no doubt, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

I don't know the young woman who wrote these letters. The mother I knew was a submissive and docile wife who rarely argued with or contradicted my father. Over the years of their marriage, the force of his personality must have come to dominate hers and place her in a subservient role. However, she did, from time to time, show flashes of that humor, strength and self-confidence that resonate in her letters. I can't imagine my mother being coquettish, as when she writes, "Shall I say a kiss?" She was always the dutiful wife, even when she did not agree with my father's decisions. She didn't display any of the sharp-edged sense of humor that had her write, in response to Morris' suggestion that they marry in England and then have him go alone to America, with her following him after she had secured her visa, "It is alright for cricketeers [ball players] and film stars, but Jewish people never do things like this."

Where are Morris' letters, we wonder? Where are his long-winded protestations of love and his detailed pages of instructions? What did he say to kindle her interest? We can only speculate that he was the more emotional and sentimental partner who saved Eva's letters while she discarded his as not worthy of preserving for posterity. What did he say to woo her and convince her that he was the one to marry? And so quickly! What declaration of affection persuaded her to give up the infamous "Leeds boy" and travel to New York to marry Morris? He seems to be the one pursuing the relationship at all costs, the one with the largest stack of emotional coins to lose. I cannot imagine my father as the ardent suitor. His personality was far from that of the gentle lover.

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