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The Depression was not romantic

October 21, 2008

Re "All you need is love, and soup," Opinion, Oct. 17

The romanticism of Depression-era life on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn is nothing more than that: romanticism.

Visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, where women worked at home for the garment industry in tiny apartments with outhouses and no electricity. Visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, now completely sanitized, where thousands of immigrants had to endure tests and quarantines.

As a kid of working-class parents in Brownsville, Brooklyn, we did have the love you speak about. Absolutely. But I also remember my mother, who also worked, doing laundry with a washboard in the bathtub. And I remember moving into an apartment that had a pulley over the tub to hang the laundry so you didn't have to hang it out the window.

On a recent trip to New York, I looked at the real estate ads. Old tenement apartments in Brownsville were selling for more than $1 million. Gee, did they gold plate the bathtubs in the kitchen?

Please don't do the Jewish shtick anymore.

Claire Carsman

Long Beach

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