- Learning More
- Biographical Notes
Letter March 15, 1920 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel
Letter March 15, 1920 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel
WWI conscientious objection / objectors
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Letter [#9] to Julius Eichel from David Eichel, U.S.D.B., Fort Douglas, Utah
- Dear Julius:
I was kept pretty busy of late preparing and rehearsing for the play "Suppressed Desires." I believe I mentioned it in one of my letters. It all came about in this way.
Howard read the play, found it subtle, humorous and inviting. He suggested that Roderick read it and give his opinion. Roderick did so and recalled that he had witnessed a performance of it by the Washington Square Players. He straightway suggested that I read it and formulate an opinion. The long and short of it is, that we thought alike. Result -- the play.
The play calls for an architect [hole in paper here] the male character, his wife and his wife's sister as the two females. Roderick, being an architect by profession, was the logical candidate for the masculine role. Howard and I were the illogical candidates respectively for the two feminine roles.
We began our rehearsals. When we got to the point where we knew our lines, we decided to pay a little attention to the scenery, makeup, apparel etc. We experienced an almost ruinous set-back when our stage ward-robe was returned to us. The very things that we had counted on utilizing had disappeared. In all our ward-robe we had only one shirt-waist that was gone. The pleated poplin skirt was gone.
The white silk stockings, the only pair of ladies stockings, in our possession had vanished, and one of the best dresses Rebecca had sent, with them. The play contains two scenes and we had planned to change costumes for each scene. This accident necessitated our abandoning this plan, and content ourselves with one costume. We also had quite a difficult situation to face in the matter of coiffure. It was a task to get the amount of hair on hand to go around. Howard, however overcame that, but using handkerchiefs, and socks and carefully covering them with the few strands of hair he had.
Roderick took care of the scenery. The play called for a Washington Square arch and Fifth Ave. scene. Roderick drew a perspective of the arch [hole in paper here][fith-?] Ave. and got in the Met. Tower with it. This view was to be seen thru an immense window in the back wall of the Architect's studio. The scene called for an afternoon and evening so that we had a sun to give the illusion of the latter. This was really one of the great surprises of the show. We also had a great time in so planning the lighting that no shadow would be cast on Fifth Ave. This was probably our most difficult and discouraging task. It was impossible to use headlights, side lights or footlights for the evening scene for everyone [sic] of them cast glaring shadows over Fifth Ave. I doubt whether any of those in the audience realized what effort and calculating this had entailed. We finally resorted to a table lamp, arranged a bright fire-place, and put up two hanging
lamps over the fire-place. This did the trick without casting those annoying shadows.
We then got down to the business of selecting costumes. Since the play decreed that I be the dame, la plus charmante, it was decided that I should wear the only corset in our ward-robe. I donned the corset, but it was necessary to lace it so tight in order to permit me to fit into any of the dresses, that I knew I could never live thru a single performance in such a tight fix. I didn't dare breathe for fear that all the hooks and clasps on the dress would tear loose. I suggested that I try to get along with those abominable corsets. My co-stars frowned, but I insisted. Nothing would induce me to wear them. I then tried on the dress without them, and lo and behold, I could at least stand it for an hour or two. I was showing the others that the problem was solved so far as I was concerned when Roderick discovered another obstacle. To remove it entailed quite a sacrifice on my part. Like most female dresses, the one I had on was a décolleté and bared a good bit of my chest, and on said chest was a good bit if manly hair. It was necessary to shave my chest in order to give the show.
There was no trouble with dressing Howard for his part. He was able to use the corset and the dresses fitted him somewhat better since he doesn't carry as much as I do about the waist.
We gave the play yesterday. It went with a bang from start to finish. You remember how successful "Augustus" was? Well, it was as nothing compared to this. At times the
laughter was so loud and prolonged that we had to rest to give the audience time to recover its composure. Roderick's part called for quite a bit of laughing, and Roderick certainly laughed. It would have been more difficult not to -- the laughter was so explosive and contagious. I had to bite my lips to keep a serious face. Every body [sic] came over to congratulate us when it was over. Even Geagotz [sp?] extended his compliments. We expect to take some pictures of the show and I'll send them along as soon as possible so as to give you an idea of it.
So much for shows and recreation. Now to the sterner business of C.O.ism. John Maller left us Sunday. He was to write you. I suppose you have already heard from him. By the way have you seen Clare's friend? I know she's in N.Y.
Blalock leaves us today. His leaving is hardly pleasant. He refuses to sign any papers and as a result leaves without transportation or $15 for clothes etc. Strange how such little things somehow affect you, despite all you do to disregard them.
Our ranks have also decreased thru less pleasant circumstances. Hake and Laub joined the workers. Laub was a considerable surprise to me. He was the first real absolutist to desert our ranks. To-day I received another jolt. It seems when they once begin there is no end. Kaplan announced that he made the fight for two years, and now he's thru. He's the last man in the world whom I would suspect of so sudden a surrender. He certainly deserves credit for the splendid
stand he had taken up to this time.
Ben Breger [sp?] returned Saturday afternoon. He looked very bad. Of course it was commonly known that he would go to work when he returned, so his going was no surprise to any of us. Gus too joined the workers. It had been rumored right from the day of his return that he was contemplating such a move. Apparently something has happened to that N.Y. crowd.
Have you delivered or dispatched Steiner's picture frame? He asked about it.
I received your card of the 5th and your letter of the 6th. I've told the boys to be patient; that you would make all the visits you promised. I begin to realize that I too had been needlessly impatient. But that was your fault. You should have explained your difficulties.
I received a letter from Palma Iverson. I had told her that I had exacted a promise from you that you would write her when you go to N.Y., and I really believe I had such an understanding with you. She writes that she hasn't heard from you as yet. I'm quite certain she would be pleased to hear from you.
I find that I could continue this indefinitely, but I'll save the rest for some subsequent letter. Things have moved just as smoothly as ever so that I have nothing vital to impart.
Remember to extend my love and greetings to all.
Eichel, David, “Letter March 15, 1920 from David Eichel to Julius Eichel ,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed June 25, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/99.