A Disgruntled Mother

By Erica

Going through a box full of maintenance reports may not seem like the most thrilling of subjects. However, I found one letter this week that expressed the concerns of a witty Y mother, who may have been a little bit too influenced by the language of Jane Austen.

This lady vocalized her concerns about a rat infestation in the park across the street from the Snowdon Y to Mr. D. Pevzner, the Director of Administration Services.   Mrs. Gruman was on her way to renew her children’s Y memberships when she encountered this problem.  She claimed she saw something out of the corner of her eye, realized it was a rat, and then saw dozens of the rodents “dashing about in the woods in broad daylight.”  She goes on to say that this must be caused by the dumping of garbage in the park, and asks who is responsible for this.  She goes on to express that her main concern regarding this rat infestation is that she is sending two of her children to the Y Urban Camp, and asks how she can remain calm while her “children are eating, resting, waiting for transportation or just playing games on your grounds, so many carriers of disease and destruction are lurking in those charming woods just across from your building?”  She concludes with asking Mr. Pevzner to “immediately eradicate this menace,” and signing her name and adding that her cat would “have a field-day there, but mightn’t live to tell the tale.”  The letter, in its entirety, can be seen as the accompaniment to this blog post.

This concerned letter (albeit a very amusing one), helps us as archivists and researchers to see the concerns of Y members, and see humour behind the everyday operations of the Y.  Reading snippets of the past is beneficial for all of us, and shows us what the Maintenance Department deemed important to keep in their files.  We get to see what the maintenance problems were of the day, which were apparently quite the menace for some people.  It is also letters like these which make archiving fun and exciting.  After all, who would have ever thought early 18th century English would creep into the Y’s files?  Here’s to more fun finds and one hundred years more of YM-YWHA history!

5 Comments to “A Disgruntled Mother”

  1. History buff says:

    I hope the problem of the rats brought up by the “troubled mother” was eventually solved. It’s letters like this one that give depth and amusement (in this case) to the mundanities of daily life in Montreal. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thelma Fraiberg Shapiro says:

    May Gruman was my great-aunt. She was a very interesting, adventurous, literate and extremely liberated woman for her time. She is a legend in our family. She was also the founder of Ami Quebec, an organization that offers support services for families dealing with mental illness. Sadly, she passed away last year.

  3. rebecca says:

    why is it whenever someone in our community makes a decent show of the queen’s english, they are immediately accused of trying to sound like a lawyer or, in this case, jane austen?

  4. Carrie says:

    Having never been able to attempt a Jane Austen novel without falling asleep, I cannot speak of, nor recognize, any Austen overtones in the letter, but I absolutely love the punctuation. (Did Austen overpunctuate too?)

    I do, however, have a bit of familiarity with early 18th century English lit, and can safely assure Erica that the letter doesn’t even come close to the general literary stylings of the 18th century, and I’m going to be one of those know-it-all internet jerks by pointing out that Jane Austen wasn’t even alive in the early 18th century — she wasn’t born until the late 1700s, and most of her work came out in the early 19th century.

    Why do I know this when I don’t even like her? Good question.

  5. Uriel Rosenzweig says:

    I’m disappointed that I sent a comment commenting in general about the JPL’s archival project on the the occasion of the Y’s 100th anniversary, and I’m disappointed that i didn’t even get a reply from JPL acknowledhing it via my E mail.

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