Jill Oppenheim de Grazia (1919-1996), the letter writer

From the Home-Front: the great Chicago Parade, 1942

You may caption the following a worm's eye view of the Great Chicago Parade of fawty-two.
                I can state officially that it was a fine parade, undoubtedly, bigger, longer, better, with more floats, legionnaires and labor unionites than the New York Parade. It lasted twice as long (14 hours to New York's seven). And it probably got started twice as late and got behind schedule twice as easily.
                We arrived at the appointed meeting place at 10 o'clock. That was on Superior over by Lake Shore Drive. We milled around for about two hours, advancing two steps every ten minutes, until we finally reached Michigan Avenue about 12:30. Naturally there was plenty of opportunity in that time for members of our little band to detach themselves and forage in search of women, beer and sandwiches. I was pleased to note that none of the Corporation counsels got tight, unlike Some Other municipal employees I saw (Sewers, Election Commissioners). Several of them hugged women, others joined Licenses (Bureau of) in song. The latter department had several good Irish Tenors. Naturally, your own unique wife foraged and found in her own unique way. I admired several participants from either Mines or Health, I couldn't figure out which, who in turn admired me and allowed me to clap an oxygen mask on my face and inhale pure oxygen. It was a device used in mine rescue work, which they saw fit to carry in the parade. I got kind of high on the oxygen but it wore off very rapidly.
                When we finally got started it wasn't so bad, and it was singularly uneventful. Kelly was still in the reviewing stand at Congress St. when we passed by there at one o'clock. Little Hodes led our contingent manfully; it was a gallant thing to do, considering what a sloppy crew we were, in colorless civilian mufti, red-eyed from sleepiness and the big spot lights on Michigan Avenue. Our float was a lot of flowers and a girl from the stenographer's division who has very long platinum hair (natural) whom they dressed up in a white robe to represent Justice or maybe it was Sex. We got to 12th St. finally and Lundy and I started towards the I.C. We walked past our float to congratulate the stenographer, and at that moment, the driver emerged from wherever he was in the flower-covered truck and fell unconscious to the pavement, poisoned by carbon monoxide. Somebody gave him artificial respiration and they finally took him away in an ambulance. I hope he lives. I'm sure the Law Department was the only contingent in the whole parade whose driver got poisoned. And they're probably the only body in a position to fend off lawsuits successfully.
                That was the great parade of Chicago, from where I was sitting. The floats were elaborate, the women beautiful, the men heroic, but the best thing in it was a sign on one of the Sewer Department trucks, namely:

                                                United We Stand
                                                Divided We Fall
                                                If You Want a Sewer
                                                Call the City Hall

                And then, to boost civilian morale by fearful mimicry of Europe, the whole great Chicagoland rehearsed a blackout:
                The blackout was a great success, from all newspaper reports. You know, they blacked out the entire Lake Michigan area, even as far as the Province of Ontario in Canada, and including the 1400 block on 60th street. At the last minute I became rather hesitant about taking a bath in the dark, so I just sat at the window and watched nothing and the wardens flashing about with their green lights. Like Carter Harrison, who gave out such a statement to the press, probably in imitation of me, I just sat and contemplated the glories of the past.
                Besides, I was feeling rather enfeebled, since at first-aid class last night I played dead dog for a couple of ambitious artificial respirationers. One of them, a cute girl who attends with her cute husband, was very good about it, but the other girl who took over from her damn near bashed in my ribs. I am still breathing in long whistling sighs.

From the Baby-Front: Kathy is growing... (1944)

At Kathy's present rate of growth, or rather, her prenatal rate (fects, I'm telling you, fects) she would reach the size of the sun at maturity. She gets fatter and I get thinner. It's positively obscene. Actually, I weigh 124 with funny shoes on, but I'd like to weigh more, just out of perversity. Correct, her hair is brown and fuzzy, her complexion flawless and tan. She really has beautiful skin. I could simper and say I use Ivory and thereby win a big cash prize but to tell you the truth, I never use water on her face at all, not since she had a rash about a month ago. I douse her with olive oil; gnashing my teeth all the while since it tastes a lot better in salad than on her, and as a result, she always has a faint aura about her, like zucchini. I wonder if you would be able to appreciate all the miracles about her - things that seem so miraculous to me. Possibly not, but then, when we have another child, you'll think a lot of things are wonderful that I'll be completely blasť about. For instance, there is the primary miracle, which fortunately for my peace of mind no longer appears as such, that she's able to live the night without my standing by with pulmotor and pediatrician. Apparently - I've discussed this with Mir and another gal -- every new mother feels that way the first week she's alone with the baby. I don't know what peculiar psychology it is that makes the mother think the child will stop breathing the minute the lights are out. But, to quote our famous friend Mr. Marquand, there it is. Then there is the miracle of the cereal. Leave us face it (remind me to send you that song, same title) - even the hungriest little gal, and ours is, resists taking things off a spoon at some time or another. As a result, I still have cereal on my shin bones from this morning. And tonight's feeding is on a blanket, the floor, the baby's nightshirt and my forearms. She still gets some of it down her. That's the miracle. And then there are the assorted miracles of the smile, the laugh, the coo, the boisterous laugh and the general ability to stay awake alone for long periods of time without crying. She really is a non-crying baby, though when she does get sore, like today when she was hungry and I gave her a bath first, she gets purple and her eyes get wet and red from crying. But as soon as I immerse her in the little tub, her expression changes through apprehensiveness finally to a big smile. She likes the water. Then when I take her out and start to dry her she yells again. You bet I'm a little heroine, with bottles exploding to the right and left of me...

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