6: Oral history excerpts, interview with Paul Lempel, 2019, and image, Blume Lempel’s typewriter, 2019.
In 2019, Christa Whitney interviewed Paul Lempel, attorney and son of Blume Lempel, in Eastchester, New York. Paul Lempel was born in Paris, France, in 1935. In these two excerpts he describes the space his mother created for writing in their Brooklyn apartment, as well as their subsequent home and garden in Long Beach, New York.
Suggested Activity: Ask students to imagine Blume Lempel’s writing spaces or garden, either by drawing a picture or by describing them with words. When might she have had time to write there? What kind of ideal work space or garden would your students create for themselves if there were no constraints? What are their favorite or ideal spaces in a home?
Have students return to the text, taking note of how often and in what manner Betty’s typewriter is mentioned. What changes about their understanding of Betty knowing that she regularly sits at the typewriter? How does that differentiate her from Mrs. Zagretti?
Finally, have students draw or describe the typewriter they imagine Betty using. Then, show them a picture of Blume Lempel’s typewriter. What differences do students notice between Lempel’s typewriter and their rendering of Betty’s typewriter? Did students imagine Betty using a Yiddish typewriter? How modern did they imagine Betty’s typewriter to be?