A Certain Party I Love

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Leon starts to settle in

When Leon wrote his second letter to Elly on September 28, 1940, he already had good news to share: he’d found a furnished room in a house, which he was renting with another temporary Census Bureau employee, another young Jewish man from Ohio (Akron) with a girlfriend back home. Coincidentally enough, his new roommate was also named Leon, although Leon #2 was soon dubbed “Lee” to avoid any confusion.

After giving Elly his new address, Leon described his new living arrangements:

We’ve got a room Elly that’s just about perfect for our needs. Upstairs, twin beds, with a large sun porch adjoining. Also the bath room is next to ours. The place is spic and span.

We have a writing table on which this is being written, a wicker chair, a plain one, a bureau with 5 drawers and mirror, a floor lamp and table lamp in addition to regular lights. On the porch is a large radio and another table. Also we have a large closet conveniently divided into 2 sections. How much? $30 a month or $15 for each or about $3.75 per week. You can’t appreciate how reasonable this is without having seen some of the holes I saw for as much and more.

According to the infinitely useful Consumer Price Index calculator at MeasuringWorth.com, their rent in 2012 dollars was $491/month, or $245 per Leon. Not bad, considering that rooms in the area are now going on Craigslist for about twice that.

He went on to describe his new job:

Whatever else comes of this job we’ll certainly know how to compile census records. That, by the way, is what we’re doing. I keep thinking how you would enjoy this kind of work. Firstly, picture about 300 young fellows and girls from every state in the union working and eating together. Second, the work deals with checking interview sheets of the census and I know you would take a personal interest in every damn one of the families enumerated. Lastly, you are such a stickler for detail, neatness, and accuracy — all three of which are highly important in our work. So there.

Just two letters in, Leon is already starting to give us a clear picture of his own personality, and Elly’s, too!