Never mind this stationery

The thick, black, inky strokes of a man who used a fountain pen long after the inventors of ballpoints assumed it had become extinct. Samuel Reuben. My father.

Monday, November 17, 1969

Dear Shelly,

Hand writing makes easy reading. Plato is said to have rewritten the first page of the “REPUBLIC” thirteen times. And a famous Italian painter we are told made three hundred sketches of the head of Antinous before he brought it to his satisfaction. It is better to wear out than to rust out. But though labour is good for man, it may be, and unfortunately often is, carried to excess. Many are wearily asking themselves ~ “ah why should life all labour be?” ~ as was expressed by Tennyson. There is a time for all things, says Solomon, a time for work and a time to play; We shall work all the better for reasonable change, and one reward of work is to secure leisure.

In whatever sphere his duty lies, every person must rely mainly on himself. Others can help us, but we must make out ourself. No one else can see for us. To profit by our advantages we must learn to use for ourselves.

“The dark lantern of the spirit

Which none can see by, but

he who bears it.”

“The reward of a thing well done is

to have done it.”

Marcus Aurelius once said, “Do not act as if thou were to live ten thousand years ~ Death hangs over thee ~ While thou livest ~ While it is in thy power, be good.”

Well enough of this Shelly. Yesterday Mother and I went to a lecture of Dr. Bettleheim, a psychiatrist. He talked about his book, “Children of the Dream” and about kibbutz life for children in Israel. He explains that we don’t own our children and that our children do not own us.

Shelly, maybe you are tired of the polluted atmosphere and water of New York City and maybe you can think of coming back and we can all build a business for ourselves. Chicago is a big enough city and dangerous and exciting enough to suit anybody.

Chucky’s Bar Mitzvah is coming off on December 27, 1969.

He already know his Haftorah and Maftir.

I will be happy to hear from you.

Never mind this stationery.

Love, Dad and Mother

Author Note: This letter was written on the back of a “Forcible Detainer Complaint” form in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Section One of this form reads:

“1. The Plaintiff ___________ entitled to the possession of the following described premises in the City of Chicago.”

My father had picked up one of these forms during one of his sessions at landlord-tenant court.

Shelly Reuben is an Edgar-nominated author, private detective, and fire investigator. For more about her books, visit

Copyright © 2008, Shelly Reuben

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