Dressed For The Occasion


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This is a complete book that I wrote and designed while at Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design in the Spring of 2009.

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Dressed For The Occasion

  1. 1. Dressed for the Occasion The Story of Alvin Ehrlich Melissa Dagley
  2. 2. Authors Note The following story is inspired by real events, and takes place at the Jewish Consumptives Relief Society (JCRS), which opened in Denver, Colorado in the early 1900s. This sanitorium was opened to treat Tuberculosis patients without discrimination. If not treated early on, tuberculosis was fatal for many who had it. At the time there was very little known about the causes or the proper treatment. Alvin Ehrlich transferred to JCRS in 1941 with his best friend and former roommate, Wade Porter Jr. from a sanitorium in Maryland. Upon arriving in Colorado, Alvin’s wife reportedly filed for divorce, leaving Alvin on his own financially.
  3. 3. Melissa Dagley 7 April 27, 1942 “Dear Mr. Freedman: ... Mr. Alvin Ehrlich is a patient at the San. My husband and Mr. Ehrlich correspond quite regularly, since the latter left Washington for Denver. Recently, in fact on April 25th , he received a letter from Alvin and I am quoting parts of it: “I would like some information. I have held off on this until I can do nothing else, and while I still hate to ask, there is nothing left. I understand that the auxiliaries or some other agency does provide a way for a patient to obtain a certain amount of necessities a month from the store here. I didn’t want to make any inquiries here as I did not want my predicament to become any more public than necessary. And I didn’t want to write to Washington (presumably the Senior auxiliary here) until I found out the proper place where I should write. So, if you or Selma will advise, I’ll appreciate it to no end. I was getting a few dollars here and there from a relative occasionally, but this has entirely ceased, and I really need some help now. I want to assure you I’m not a sohnorrer nor am I trying to be one now, as I hate the thought of even being in that position. But now that I am going to meals, it means the need of some few things to wear around, which I don’t have. Whatever I had was left with my wife and there has been no way to get that (when Alvin went to the San, his wife proceeded with a divorce). I am entitled to two-all-day passes a month to go to Denver, yet I haven’t been out of the grounds since December. It is just a case of absolute necessities that is bothering me.”
  4. 4. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 8 Mrs. Millenson gave me to understand that there is a “relief fund,” the proceeds of which are obtained through the rehabilitation department at Spivak. This fund is available to those patients which have no means of getting money anywhere. Mrs. Millenson personally told me that Alvin really has no means, that his relatives have ceased sending money. Also, Mrs. Millenson told me that if you would kindly take this matter into consideration, you might also be able to supply him with the necessary clothes. My husband tells me that Alvin must be really down and out, otherwise he wouldn’t write the way he has, and that he isn’t just the sort of man that wants to “sponge” from those are kind to him in his illness. Won’t you write me, Mr. Freedman, and let me know what you can do. I shall write to Mr. Ehrlich and tell him that Mr. Freedman of the Social Service will undoubtedly be in to see him. Other than that, I will not mention that I’ve written you part of his letter. I know he wouldn’t want me to do that, and I don’t want him to know I’ve spoken to Mrs. Millenson. The latter told me that the money given to patients, and clothing, is kept confidential, and please rest assured that I shall not speak of this to anyone. With kindest regards. I am sincerely yours, Selma Steiner”
  5. 5. Melissa Dagley 9 May 1, 1942 “Dear Mrs. Steiner: Thank you for your letter of April 27 regarding Mr. Alvin Ehrlich. Mr. Ehrlich approached us for a $20.00 loan recently to “help him avoid an embarrassing situation.” We were unable to grant this loan because we have no funds to be used in this way. He has not applied to us for an allowance from our Social Service Fund which is our “relief fund.” To patients who do not have an income from any source, we grant a cash monthly allowance of $2.00. We also supply them with used clothing that we may have on hand. Most of our ambulant patients who are need of a cash allowance apply for employment in the JCRS Industries. Patients begin by working for two hours a day and are paid $5.00 per month. In time, their physical capacity permits them to put in longer hours and they are paid more. Mr. Ehrlich has not applied for this work but did apply for a position which is beyond his strength. It was suggested that there is an opening in the JCRS Industries and the doctor advises that he is able to take it. He said that he will think about it. We will let you know his decision. Work in the Industries has the important objects of keeping the patients busy and helping to determine their working capacity as well as in providing them with funds. We do not like to discuss personal matters concerning patients
  6. 6. Melissa Dagley 11 but in this case it appears to be necessary. Mr. Ehrlich is one of the best dressed patients in the Sanatorium. He has given patients the impression that he is a man of some means. He owes $15.00 in the Sanatorium store, and we understand that he also has obtained personal loans from patients. If he will take employment in the JCRS Industries, he will have $5.00 per month for incidental expenses, and if he requires any clothing and will be willing to take what we have available, we will be glad to assist his in this regard. The maximum relief assistance we are able to make to patients who are unable to work in the Industries is $2.00 per month, plus clothing as needed. When patients who are on our relief list are able to work in the Industries, they are taken off the list. Please feel free to correspond with us further. As you mentioned, we keep such matters entirely confidential. Kindest regards. Sincerely yours, Israel Friedman Director of Social Service and Publicity” *The preceding letters were found in Alvin Ehrlich’s patient file, and have not been altered.
  7. 7. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 12 September 1942 I awoke this morning to the early rays of sunlight streaming through my window. I threw my arms to the side, and let out a loud yawn as I stretched my arms wide. When I pulled my arms back I accidently hit the lamp on the table beside my bed, and it began to wobble around in circles, until I reached over to steady it. This morning I am feeling better than I have in months, and I actually want to eat breakfast. I really want to go out, but my suits are all in rags.
  8. 8. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 14 I threw my blanket off and stepped onto the cold ground of my room. I looked to the other side of the room and my roommate was still asleep, who knows how he could be with this sun, so I walked down the hall to my friend, Wade’s room. We came to JCRS together a year ago, transferring from Glenndale Sanitorium in Baltimore, where we were roommates. When I reached his room, the door was closed, so I knocked softly as I opened it. When I walked inside, Wade was stretched out across his bed, his long legs dangling over the edge, and he had a small paperback in his hands, his nose buried in the pages. He didn’t even look up to greet me as I walked inside; he just let out a low grunt, already accustomed to my morning routine. I pulled a chair up next to his bed and sat slouched down in the chair. I told him, “I want to go out this morning for breakfast; I have two full day passes that I can use, and I have not been outside of the Sanitorium since December.” Wade continued to read his book as if I was not there. I looked down at him, trying to make eye contact, though his gaze was fixed on the words of his book, then I sat up and asked him quite clearly,
  9. 9. Melissa Dagley 15 “Do you think I could borrow some money to buy a suit? I’ll pay you back just as soon as I can, and you know you can trust me because we have been friends for years.” Wade looked up from his book, finally aware of the fact that we were having a conversation. He reached to his side table and opened the drawer to take out his checkbook. “How much ya need?” He asked. “Twenty five dollars should be sufficient,” I replied confidently. He wrote in the amount and held the check out to me, I reached for it, but he kept a tight hold on it. I looked down at his hand, and he looked to me, and said, “I better get this money back! This is a loan, not a gift, and I suggest you remember that.” I nodded my head, and he loosened his grip on the check. I put the money in my pocket, and I strolled back to my room to get my coat and hat.
  10. 10. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 16 When I arrived downtown, I walked into the doors of the first suit shop I saw, anxious to get out of my raggedy clothes and find somewhere nice to eat breakfast. When I walked through the door, the salesman didn’t even say hello because he saw the way I was dressed. I walked over to the most expensive row of suits and began to browse. I pulled out a few pairs of pants here and there, and even though I couldn’t afford them I feigned interest in them. I asked the man if he could help me find a size thirty-four pant, and he asked me if I was planning on buying something or just dirtying the suits up for everyone else. I let out a loud chuckle, and said, “That was a good one,” as if I thought it was hilarious that he was insinuating that I couldn’t afford to buy a suit. The man looked at me strangely and I said, “I need a new suit for this big business meeting tomorrow, unfortunately I seem to have nothing nice to wear anymore because my wife has taken to using my clothes to make clothes for herself with those new patterns Stanley Marcus came out with, it’s the new trend you know.” The man became more interested in helping me now that he thought I had money, and he began pulling out suit coats and pants left and right, trying to sell me the most expensive suits in the store. I acted like I was interested in the expensive suits, but then I told him that I didn’t really like the feel of the expensive suits. I walked over to a much cheaper row of suits, pulled one out, and as I ran my hands over the fabric I said,
  11. 11. Melissa Dagley 17 “This one is perfect, I like the way this looks, now find my size in this and you will have a sale!” The salesman stammered, “But...but that’s only a mid-priced suit, surely you want something more expensive... there’s a rack full of brand new suits that just came in from France, they have everyluxury you could want, and these over here, they’re madefrom a different material, there’s even some real woolbrass buttons, large lapels, there’s even a double breastedsuit which is all the rage in the war free countries, youcould dress as you did before the war and all of the newrestrictions, don’t you want that? Please, come on now, noteveryone can be as wealthy as you, I need this commissionto be quite honest! I stomped my foot down and said that I wanted that suit and no other. The salesman began combing through the row, and pulled out the pants and coat, then he handed them to me to put on. I walked back to a small dressing room and changed into the suit, and when I walked out I felt like a million bucks. The suit was light gray and was actually made with a small amount of wool, which was surprising with the new regulations that had just been placed on clothing because of the war; I liked the wool because it meant that the suit would be warmer, even though it was still made up mostly of artificial material, which doesn’t seem right to me, I really don’t like the artificial materials that clothing manufactures are forced to use now because they aren’t as warm and they tend to shrink after you wash them. The man was obviously confused as to why I would buy the cheaper suit, when the store carried more expensive suits. I told the man I would take the suit and handed him twenty dollars.
  12. 12. Melissa Dagley 19 The salesman was visibly upset that what he thought was going to be a big sale was not, and he tore the money out of my hand, and slammed the cash register drawer shut after he put it away. I walked out of the door, a smile on my face, and looked around for a diner. I spotted something a couple blocks down, but I was still too far away to see what it was. I continued walking, the cold wind blowing into my face, and nearly blowing my hat into the street; I was glad for the warmth of my new suit. When I finally reached the restaurant I was walking to it was quite small, and packed full of people, which I figured was a good sign, so I crossed the street and walked inside. The writing on the window advertised that they were having a special on pancakes, so I sat down at one of the booths and trying to be clever, called out, “I would like to try your pancakes and taste for myself why they are so special.” A spunky waitress walked over to my table and told me, “Well you’re going to be waiting for awhile, can’t you see we are busy!” She walked away before I even had a chance to order something to drink, and so I sat there, with no food, and nothing to do. I sat and twiddled my thumbs for a few minutes, but then I saw a woman sitting all alone on the other side of the small diner, I walked over to her table and sat in the chair opposite her. I poured on the charm and took my hat off as I introduced myself to her. The woman blushed and said,
  13. 13. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 20 “I don’t usually go out alone, but it was such a nice day I couldn’t help it.” I grinned and told her, “I understand and clearly I have done the very same thing.” A small smile sneaked across her face and she asked me, “Do you come here often?” “Actually,” I said, “this is my first time, and to be quite frank, I don’t know if I’ll come back because I’ve been here ten minutes and nobody has even asked me if I want something to drink.” The woman laughed and said. “This is not the kind of place that you come to for fast service, and really, unless you are very insistent, you may not get any service.” I laughed and asked, “Would you like to go somewhere else and actually eat breakfast?” She smiled, “That would be lovely.”
  14. 14. Melissa Dagley 21 Not really knowing the area, I ended up leading her in circles, until we finally decided to just buy some pastries at a small bakery that we saw across the street and we sat on a bench outside, watching the people walk by as we ate. She began to feel cold after awhile, so I took off my coat and let her wear it. I arrived back at JCRS just after dark without a penny to my name and the happiest I had been in a long time. A few days later, I was walking around outside at JCRS, trying to get some fresh air, when I saw Maude, the woman from Downtown. I walked over to her and she looked shocked to see me. I asked her, “Are you here for treatment?” She nodded yes and said that she had been for quite some time. After finding out that Maude was staying at JCRS I decided that I needed to start dressing nicer on a daily basis, after all, she thought that I was wealthy, so I couldn’t let her catch me in my old suits that were falling apart. I went to my room and pulled out all of my old suits and brought them across the hall to one of the younger patients I knew and offered him three dollars if he would sell them all. The young man accepted the offer and soon I had enough money to buy a few new suits, which would help my wardrobe immensely.
  15. 15. Today, Wade asked me if I had the money I borrowed from him, but quite honestly, I completely forgot about it, and still had no money. In fact, I borrowed a hundred fifty dollars from Maude’s aunt, so that I could buy some nicer suits, to impress Maude. But, when I told Wade this he became very angry and said that he was going to report me. I reached out and grabbed his arm as he was walking away, but he was very upset, and didn’t want to talk to me. I looked him in the eyes and asked him not to tell. October 1942
  16. 16. “Just give me a little more time!” I begged. Wade was not enthused, and he pulled his arm away and kept walking towards the Texas building. I walked over to the Texas building as well, but not to stop Wade, I knew there was no stopping him now. Instead I walked down to the office where I worked, and asked my boss, Dr. Rest if I could get an advance on my pay. “Ineedtwentydollars,andIdon’thaveapennytomyname.” Dr. Rest told me, “There is no way that I can give you a pay advance; I don’t have the funds for that. You get five dollars a month, what have you been doing with all of your money?” “It is very important that I get the money, and if you can’t help me I have no reason to explain why!” I screamed at him. In the end I was not able to get the money, and if Wade told anybody about the money that I didn’t repay him then they did not come to me about it, so I went to bed that night without a worry in the world. The next morning, I decided that I should get all of my affairs in order, so I took out my notebook to write down all of the people I owed money to. I began making a list, and reached ten people before I grew depressed about the situation. The only money I had was my five dollars a month for working, which was not enough to pay back all of the money I owed and pay for the things I needed. 24 Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich
  17. 17. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 26 November 1942 “You owe me a hundred fifty dollars Mr. Ehrlich! I want my money now!” Mrs. Fair (Maude’s aunt) screamed at me. Obviously she was not the kind of person you borrowed money from and did not pay back. “I will get that money from you one way or another!” I really did not know what to tell her, because I did not have a hundred fifty dollars, and I did not plan on having that much money any time soon. I stood there silent while Mrs. Fair yelled at me nonstop. I started to drown her out when she said that she was going to make me sign my salary over to her until I paid the money back, unless I gave her the money by the end of the month. I knew that if I couldn’t get the money I would have no choice but to give her my salary, but I didn’t like the prospect any more because of it. I was deep in thought when I saw a paper under my nose, “Sign it!” She screamed. “I want my money!” I saw no other choice, so I took the pen she was holding out to me and I signed my name across the bottom of the letter, declaring that I wanted to give my salary to Mrs. Fair, as untrue as the statement was. Of course I didn’t really want to sign my salary over to Mrs. Fair, so I decided that I needed to come up with a plan.
  18. 18. Melissa Dagley 27 There was no way I could get a hundred fifty dollars by the end of the month, unless I borrowed money from other people, which would hardly help my current situation, so I decided that I needed to come up with a way to get Mrs. Fair off of my back about the money that I owed her, without having to actually pay her back. Obviously, this was going to have to be a complicated plan. I hoped it would work. To begin putting my plan into action, I called up a bank in Chicago that I had found a business card for awhile back, and I asked the banker if he could send me a blank check, he said that it wouldn’t be a problem, and I gave him my address. I didn’t know how long it would take to get the check, but I hoped that it would come soon, so that I could put all of this behind me. For the time being, I decided that I should try to pay off some of my other debts, I went through my collection of suits and pulled out three of them to sell, I walked down the hall to the room of a young boy, Mr. Student, and I told him that I would give him three dollars if he would sell the suits for me. The boy readily agreed, and I handed him the suits, and told him to try and get at least fifteen dollars a piece for them. A few days later I received the blank check in the mail. Time to put my plan into action. I filled the check out to an Albert Berstein, which is the name of the banker I spoke to, for a hundred forty five dollars, and then I endorsed the check.
  19. 19. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 28 I put on my best suit, which I had bought just a couple weeks earlier, I had lucked out and found a store that a had few suits from before the War Production Board placed the restriction on natural fibers, and I was able to get a dark gray, wool suit with cuffs in the legs and flaps on the pockets, and it was double breasted the way I like. I walked to Maude’s room, and when I saw her I pulled out the check and held it to her face, she looked at the check and asked me where I got it from, so I told her that I was friends with Albert Berstein and that he owed me a hundred forty five dollars, so he gave me this check that was given to him by his brother in law, and he endorsed it so that I could use it to pay my debt. Maude’s face lit up, “I knew that you would come through and pay my aunt back! She didn’t believe me when I told her that you were an honest man.” She reached for the check, but I kept it out of her reach as I continued to explain, “The only problem is that Mr. Bernstein’s brother in law wired to him to not cash the check, because it turns out, he doesn’t have the funds to cover it.” Maude’s smile faded, and she became angry, “So you came here to give me a check that I cannot cash, and pretend like you could pay my aunt back!”
  20. 20. Melissa Dagley 29 “Well, I thought that maybe you would see that I have every intention of paying your aunt back, and there is no reason for her to take my salary every month.” Maude looked skeptical, and she told me that I better leave; I was very worried at this point because I thought that my plan would work, but from the looks of it, it was not going to. Later that day, a Miss Naswich, who worked for JCRS came to talk to me about what happened earlier. She said that Maude called Mr. Bernstein to find out if my story was true and that Mr. Bernstein said that he didn’t have a brother in law, and that he didn’t know who I was. I was even more worried now, what were they going to do me? Obviously I was going to have to give my salary to Mrs. Fair, which meant that I would have no money to spend. I found out very soon what was going to happen, a few days after Maude told Miss Naswich about what happened, Dr. Rest walked up to me and said that he was going to have let me go from my job. He said that he couldn’t confirm if the story about what I did was true, because Maude was too sick, and Miss Naswich had heard the story in confidence, so she couldn’t tell him, but he was still going to let me go because of the large amount of debt that I was in. He said that once I got my affairs in order he could let me work again, but for right now he felt like I might feel pressured to do something because of my debt, like disposing of confidential information in medical records for money. He was sad to let me go because I was a very good worker, but he suspected that I would be able to get my job back by the beginning of the year.
  21. 21. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 30 A few days after I was fired, Maude told me that someone from JCRS had talked to her about my getting fired. She said that they told her I got in trouble for spending more money than I had any way of making in the near future, so she told them about the insurance claim that I had mentioned to her previously, and that I was expecting a large check and that was why I was spending so much. Then she told me that they had not believed I was really getting a check for an insurance claim. I nodded politely as she recounted the story to me, then she asked, “So, are you really going to get a check for an insurance claim?” I didn’t know what to say because it wasn’t true, but I didn’t want to tell Maude that, so I told her, “Well, I was due for a check, and I was telling you the truth, but I seem to have run into a problem because it turns out that I’m not going to be receiving the check after all.” Maude looked concerned, “So, you really do owe more money than you can pay back?” “Yes,” I told her, “but don’t worry about me.”
  22. 22. 31 Melissa Dagley Maude didn’t want to accept that I really was having money trouble, and she didn’t want me to get into any more trouble so she took out her checkbook and wrote me a check for two hundred dollars. This was the first time someone had written me a check on their own accord and without me asking, so I didn’t know what to do exactly, so I thanked her, put the check in my wallet, and walked back to my room to ponder what I should spend the money on.
  23. 23. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 32 January 1943 These days I am feeling much worse than I was; I can hardly make it to the meals now, and I haven’t been Downtown since I went in September. I got my job back in the medical office at the end of December (mostly because they wanted me to do the medical report), but I don’t know that I will be able to keep it long, not the way that I am feeling. I’ve been lying in bed all day, but so has my roommate, and his coughing has been nonstop, which means I haven’t been able to get any sleep, I can’t even think straight, and my head is spinning. I need to get out of this room, so I slowly lift my arms and push the blanket off. I haven’t gotten dressed in days, I can barely pull my pants on, and I just forget about socks and shoes. I get my shirt on, but I can’t seem to work the buttons, and I can barely breathe. I stand up, and slowly shuffle out of the door of my room. I barely make it to the hallway when I collapse with a loud thud. I don’t remember anything that happened after I collapsed, but now I am lying in a bed, crammed into a tiny room, I must be in bad shape if I’m in a private room now. I hear somebody coming and I see a nurse walking into the room. I’ve certainly seen better-looking women, but she’ll have to do. I can barely make my voice work, but I manage to croak out a hello. The nurse is startled; apparently I’ve been out for a couple of days. She leaves and comes back a few seconds later with a plate of food and a glass of water. I thank her, and ask her if she would like to join me, but she just blushes, and walks back to the hallway.
  24. 24. 33 The next day I decided that I would write a note to the nurse, so I asked the nurse that was on duty if she could bring me a pen and paper. I didn’t know what to say for sure, but I just focused on keeping it flattering; I needed some money, after all, I did lose my job, and just as I got it back I got worse and now I can’t work, and haven’t been able to work for about a week. I sent the note out with the nurse on duty and she promised me that she would get it to the nurse from the day before. In the few weeks that I was in the private room I developed a friendly relationship with the nurse I met the first day, and I decided that it was time to put my plan into action, so I sent her one final note and asked her for two hundred dollars, I told her that I had no money and I was devastated financially now that I had been out of work for so long. However, things didn’t go quite according to plan, because instead of sending me a check or even some cash she gave the letter to the secretary at the front desk and reported me. Not only did Maude find out that I had been flirting with the nurse, but they also told her about a nurse that I had been in a relationship with when I first came to JCRS. Apparently the other nurse was ill now and wanted the money she had loaned to me back so she had written a letter to JCRS. Melissa Dagley
  25. 25. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 34 Today, I have a big date planned with Maude to apologize for the affair with my nurse, so I put on my gray, double-breasted suit that I bought a few weeks earlier. I was surprised to be able to find a double breasted suit with all of the restrictions that are in place for clothing now because of the war, apparently having a few extra buttons is going to keep the soldiers from having uniforms. I bought a zoot suit once just to spite them, they’re considered contraband because they use so much extra fabric; the legs are wide except for the dramatically narrower ends, and the jacket is so oversized I get lost in it, but I like to wear it because then I can show the government just what I think of their war rationing, and their regulation L-85. Anyway, I put on my suit, and I walked outside to the open grassy area to meet Maude, only when I got there I saw a small crowd of people, Maude included, and heard them all trying to talk over one another. I walked closer and saw that there was a police man, but I wasn’t really worried, I mean, I wrote a bad check last week to Mrs. Fair, but she would never cash it because that would look bad on Maude, and why would she do that to her niece? However, when the crowd of people spotted me the police officer walked over, handcuffs in hand, and he cuffed me, and then told me my rights. I didn’t understand; how could I be going to jail? I’ve never been to jail before. I heard Maude telling Miss Naswich that I had borrowed two hundred dollars from her as well, and that I had given her a bad check. And Mr. Tipton was telling
  26. 26. them about a money order that he had asked me to buy, and he claimed that I had never bought it, which in retrospect was true. I remember that day, I was wearing a lightweight tan suit, because it was hot outside, and he approached me because he wasn’t feeling well, he asked me if I would buy a money order for him and send it to his insurance company. I decided to keep the eleven dollars instead, and told him that it must have gotten lost in the mail; I could tell he didn’t believe me though, so I gave him back some of the money, but I had already spent the rest of it, and didn’t want to borrow money from someone else to pay him back. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the back of a squad car, my hands hurting from the cuffs around them, and making it uncomfortable to sit. I sat nervously awaiting my arrival at the station, hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay there long; hopefully someone will bail me out. I know I don’t have any money. A few hours later I was sitting in a dirty jail cell, my nice suit getting ruined from the grime and now full of wrinkles. I put my face up to the bars and yelled out of my cell to a police officer that was standing nearby, “When am I getting out of here? Didn’t somebody pay the bail yet?” Melissa Dagley 37
  27. 27. The police officer ignored my questions and just kept his head down in the papers he was working on. I was bored out of my mind, what are you supposed to do in a jail cell by yourself? Couldn’t they have let me bring a book or something? Only a few hours after I arrived at the jail I received a message from Maude, but instead of offering to pay my bail like I had hoped she wanted her watch back. She gave me her watch a few weeks ago because she needed the stem repaired, so I told her that I would bring it to the repair shop for her. I really did have good intentions, but on the way to the jewelry repair shop I saw a pawnshop, and in a force of habit I walked into the pawnshop and pawned her watch for fifteen dollars. All I had left of her watch now was a pawn ticket, so I told the officer to send it to her in lieu of the watch. I had a feeling that Maude would not be too pleased to see the pawn ticket, but what else could I do? Now I had no hope of her bailing me out though, obviously she didn’t want anything to do with me anymore if she was asking for her watch back, and now that she knew I had pawned it she would probably assume that I just wanted her for her money and that I never cared for her, which wasn’t entirely true. I really did like her, I was just a little preoccupied with money, and being with her meant I wanted money even more so that I could buy nice suits. It wasn’t until a week later that someone from JCRS finally went to the jail and paid my bail so that I could go back to my treatment. 38 Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich
  28. 28. Melissa Dagley 39 February 1943 My court date was coming up soon, and I didn’t want to go to jail, so I called up a friend of mine who is a lawyer, whom I met at Glenndale, and I told him what my situation was, and he told me that he had the perfect solution for me. He said that if Mrs. Fair was paid the money that I owed her that she would more than likely drop the charges. I told him that I didn’t have any money, but he told me not to worry about it. He said that he personally would put twenty dollars towards the cause and that he would call JCRS and convince them to help me out. He said that he would also call the Ladies Auxiliary and see if they would donate to the cause. I was excited at the prospect of having my debt paid off and having the charges against me dropped. The week in the jail was bad enough, what if I was sentenced for years, and with this tuberculosis at that? However, things didn’t work out the way I had hoped, just a few days later, my friend called me back and told me that JCRS had not been at all supportive of his idea, and he was unable to get the Ladies Auxiliary to help. I was crushed, and I really didn’t want to go to prison, so I came up with an idea of my own. I went to my trunk and pulled out five of my suits, I didn’t want to sell them, but it wouldn’t be the first time I sold suits for money. I walked down the hall to see Mr. Student and asked if he would sell some suits for me one last time. He said that he would do what he could, and within a few days I had seventy-five dollars.
  29. 29. I decided that it was time to bid farewell to Colorado.
  30. 30. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 42 I packed up my remaining suits and my few personal items, and under the cover of night I snuck out of JCRS. I wore my zoot suit to express the rebellion I was feeling as I ran from the police and all of the people I owed money to. The suit was black, and I had a pocket watch with a long silver chain that hung down against the darkness of my leg. The pants came up high in the waist, so I had to wear my suspenders instead of my belt. I picked up my fedora and pulled it down over my head, then I took a cab to Union Station, where I bought a train ticket to Baltimore; I still had some connections there from when I was in Glenndale Sanitorium so I knew that I would be able to find somewhere to stay. The station was still busy even this late at night. The trip to Baltimore seemed to take forever, it was a long way, but when I finally arrived I was relieved to be away from Colorado and hoped that the police wouldn’t come looking for me. I saw a line of cabs on the other side of the station, so I walked over there and got into the closest one. I told the driver to take me to the Glenndale Sanitarium. I was a little worried that someone from the sanitarium would recognize me and tell the people at JCRS where I was, but I hoped that I would be able to find a patient I knew without seeing any of the nurses. I waited on the outside perimeter of the sanitorium until I saw some patients walking out of the resident halls, and I saw one of my old friends. I walked over to him, and his face lit up when he saw me he reached out to shake my hand. I decided that he was
  31. 31. Dressed for the Occasion - The Story of Alvin Ehrlich 44 the one, so I told him that I had just been released from JCRS and that I had to start over from nothing because I had long since lost my job and my wife. Then I asked him, “Do you think I could borrow some money to get back on my feet? I’ll pay you back just as soon as I can, and you know you can trust me because we have been friends for years.” He took the bait and pulled out his checkbook, then he asked me, “How much ya need?” “Two Hundred Dollars should be sufficient,” I replied confidently.
  32. 32. Visual Sequencing Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design Martin Mendelsburg Colophon and Components Colophon Title: Dressed for the Occasion Designer: © 2009 Melissa Dagley Credits Alvin Ehrlich 11336 Documents and Photography Courtesy of: JCRS Collection, Beck Archives Special Collections, Penrose Library and Center for Judaic Studies University of Denver, 2008 Photography: (In order of appearance.) Flenn, Al. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1948. Backstage Bridal. <http://backstagebridal.net/html/backstage_bridal_ tuxedoes.html.>. Hansen, Marie. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1942. Stackpole, Peter. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1943. Scherman, David E. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1946.
  33. 33. Kessel, Dmitri. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1947. Holmes, Martha. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1948. Holmes, Martha. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1947. Miller, Francis. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1949. Miller, Francis. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1949. Birns, Jack. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1949. Larsen, Lisa. Life Magazine Photo Archive. 1954. Bibliography “1940’s Fashions including prices.” The People History. 12 March 2009. 17 February 2009 <http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1940sclothes.html> “Men’s Fashions on the 1940s.” Men’s Vintage Fashions. 11 August 2004. 17 February 2009 <http://www.murrayhawaii.com/nolan/fashionhistory_1940mens.html> Typefaces Adobe Garamond Pro Paper Wausau Paper. Royal Linen, Natural 24 lb.