Leena Cravzow (1913-2006), the daughter of Russian Jews, was an accomplished pianist in Hartford. She attended Julliard School of Music and also took lessons from the noted pianist R. Augustus Lawson. Lawson, who was African American and Indian, was born in Kentucky but moved with his family to Hartford. He studied at Fisk University and later taught at the Hartford School for Music.
Through a lot of hard work on my part, and not a little angst all around, we recently purchased a small collection of Leena’s letters dated 1935-1992. There are four letters written to her by Lawson, which is what attracted us to the collection in the first place. However, reading letters written by Leena’s friend Thelma Altschuler Wachsteter is worth the time and effort. She has a wonderful turn of phrase and is not afraid to tackle any subject, even menstruation. Most of her advice is about men, love and marriage. Leena was a bit of a late bloomer–she was not married until about 1957 when she was past the “old maid” age of 30.
Later letters to Leena and her husband Sam Lippman are written by someone named Ed who also writes an entertaining letter from retirement in Florida. His companion is his dog, and Ed writes about the dog as if he were a person.