MARRIED NINE MONTHS IN in 1935—NOTES FROM MY PARENTS’ BOAT TRIP EIGHTY TWO YEARS AGO and a birthday poem written by my mother to my father (and found in a suitcase). Transcribed by Merrill Joan Gerber



Jessie Gerber’s story written on river boat stationery:

On America’s Finest River Trip

Hudson River Day Line, On Board the Peter Stuyvesant August 10, 1935, Saturday

For History’s Annals: And so we celebrated our nine months anniversary! Equipped with sun glasses, chicken sandwiches, the Saturday Evening Post which we swiped from behind a hatchet, and a lovely sunny day, we are set for our voyage. This boat goes to West Point, where we hope to see the parade.  We start back at 6:15 and arrive at 9:15. A saxophone moans feebly in the offing, which probably means dance music.  We have reserved two seats in the upper deck, and can see all the big steamers sailing for points east!  Oh, well, some day…

Going out to get some sunshine—and will describe the parade later on.

No parade today! Of all days, Saturday is the day when the poor darlings loaf!  But we had a swell time anyway—

And a great big fight that very night.

Jessie S. Gerber


William Gerber’s story written on river boat stationery:

On America’s Finest River Trip

Hudson River Day Line, On Board The Pisher Styve

Ve vas going up the Rivah and vat do you tink up jumps a whale into mine wifes lap was she surprised. I’m tellink you she almost did in her oizen. Now dis whale was a prince what was betwitched by a bat bat whitch. Whitch dis whitch had cast a spell on the prince whitch could only be broken by a young beautiful woman whitch mine wife was so to make a long story longer whitch do you think she preferred the Prince that the whitch had bewitched or me whitch she had taken from bad to worse. So my wife and he lived Happily Ever after.

The moral from this story is if you find a whale in your lap spit on him and drown him or the whitch which bewhitched him might bewitch you too.

Meyer Volf Gerber

Poem written by my mother to my father on his 27th birthday, November 1, 1936

To My Husband on this Birthday:

I.  A gift I have for your, my sweet.

I think you’ll like it too.

But you must follow my command,

And here is what you do.

II. First face the kitchen sink, turn right,

Take three steps straight ahead

And then you’ll very slowly walk

To the foot of the Murphy bed.

III. Turn to your left, hop one, two, three,

Then skip to the bathroom door.

Then you must scrub your dirty face

And squat near the tub on the floor.

IV. And now arise and follow your nose

Till you reach the studio couch.

Then sing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Come on, don’t be a grouch.

V.  Now sidestep right and look into

The mirror near the hall.

Make lots of funny faces

And neigh like a horse in a stall.

VI. Now don’t you fret, my darling pet,

The worst is almost done.

You’ll get your present very soon.

The battle’s nearly won.

VII. Just waltz around the room, my love,

And curtsey here and there,

Then rhumba to the telephone

And flop in the easy chair.

VII. We’re almost thru, you may arise.

Now prance to the hall near the chest,

And if you still want your birthday gift,

With patience you must be blessed.

IX. Now you may open the closet door,

And tightly shut your eyes.

Then reach your hands a way, way up

Till you feel your humble prize.

X.  And now, my sweet, the mystery’s done,

There’s nothing more to unravel.

Let’s pack our duds and hurry East,

We’ve got an excuse to travel.


Your Je

(The gift is a Gladstone bag.)