Collection: Raster Family Letters

Author: Hermann Raster

Recipient: Sophie Raster

Description: Letter from Hermann Raster to his sister, Sophie Raster, September 7, 1871.

Hermann Raster to Sophie Raster, September 7, 1871

English Text

Chicago, 7. September 1871

My dear good sister,

So you have now been back in your beloved, boring Zerbst for 22 days. How did you ever stand it and how will you continue to stand it? Day before yesterday I had a letter from Mathilde, written August 17, and discovered that Zerbst has the talent to arouse homesickness not only in a native American but others. We talk about it here every day, almost hourly and are beginning to harbor an idea that you aren't going to like it over there for long. Hesings (senior) changed their travel itinerary to the extent that they are going to leave December 1, however from Liverpool. Perhaps a trip in their company could be arranged.

Meanwhile we ask ourselves why you, if you want to remain in Germany, insist on staying in Zerbst. Your income is now ample for you to live quite comfortably in Dessau, where there is at least some entertainment, and Marie also would have more opportunity to get out with people…Well, perhaps you have already decided on something, before receiving this letter. You know our Chicago news through my letters to Mathilde. Gretchen's health, aside from a slight cold, is better than at any time since our marriage and we are having very even happy times. The heavenly weather has given us a chance to walk every day, which all seem to end at Fischer's where there is usually good company. We can't take longer trips considering Gretchen's very "rounded" condition except that we did go to a picnic in Hager’s Park two weeks ago.

Last Saturday Gertrud and I were invited to the "inaugural" trip on a new steamship - the press had been invited. The trip was only along the city's shoreline back and forth - 7 miles in each direction and would have been boring in spite of the marvelous weather if the guests hadn't eaten and then danced. Yesterday Gretchen and Gertrud took the horsecar to the west side, walked in Union Park and through the beautiful residential streets, then called for me at the Customs house; we had dinner in an American restaurant next door to the Californian Fruitstore (across the street from the City Hall, which finally had the clock installed two weeks ago). Roast chicken, fried oysters, and fried soft shell crabs (which you saw in the Washington market in New York - a great delicacy). With it we had ale. Then we went to the Wax Museum, where there are really many interesting exhibits (stuffed animals, -among them a 100 foot long prehistoric Ichthyosaurus). The opera season hasn't started. Shortly the Perega and our darling will be coming - later in the season also Gordon Marshal, who arrived in New York about 14 days ago.

Unfortunately Gretchen won't be able to go for the next couple of months. My "businesses" are going along smoothly. The great Justan conspiracy against the Staatszeitung has dissipated itself at least temporarily and himself left for Germany last Sunday, where he expects to stay for six months.

The Michaelis "sheet" the "Freie Post" goes after me every eight days, but so feebly and stupidly that it arouses pity in me rather than anger. The paper has about 600 subscribers and keeps going only because of the pictures drawn by Kurz (Floto's partner), which aren't witty but rather attractive. At my Customs office business was fine in August. We took in about 721,000 dollars, of which my commission is approximately 2475; my salary is 125 which makes about 2600 dollars, of which about 1200 has to be deducted for expenses, so that 1400 dollars remain. However this was an extraordinarily good month, because of this $371,000 was in taxes on breweries and 51,000 from the Northwestern Railroad.

With best regards to my brother-in-law and Marie, Your brother Hermann