My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.” I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways.
But Leta was far from a movie star. She was just an ordinary girl from Waynesboro, Virginia who happened to be assigned to share the dorm room of my grandaunt Velma Davis at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University). The many smiling photos in Velma’s scrapbook suggest they got along famously.
"As high up as she'll get"
Velma and Leta were both in the 2-year program that would allow them to teach elementary school for seven years before recertifying.
School Ma'am 1926
The quote beneath Leta’s graduation picture observed “Ever studious was she, ever active too.” Leta was a member of the Grammar Grade Club as well as the YWCA and Athletic Association. Most interesting, however, was that Leta was a member of the Page Literary Society. Membership in any of the literary societies at HTC was by invitation only, so it was quite an honor. These societies were, in fact, the forerunners of today’s sororities. Leta’s club eventually became Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sig), the oldest sorority at today’s JMU.
Wellington Hall in the background
Leta was born March 10, 1907 in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of Russian immigrants who had been in the United States less than ten years, naturalized citizens for three. Her father was enumerated in various years as either a peddler or junk dealer. But the man lived the American dream becoming the proprietor of his own grocery and dry goods store as recorded in the 1930 Waynesboro census.
|Velma and Leta at Velma's house Shenandoah, Virginia, May 1925|
Leta graduated from HTC in 1926, but in 1930 she was living at home and apparently not working, certainly not teaching.
Leta attended Velma’s wedding and signed the guest registry. Judging by the names surrounding her signature, it was a regular class reunion.
At least by 1935 Leta had married Irving Steinberg. The two lived with his widowed mother in Passaic, New Jersey. In the 1940 census, Leta and Irving were parents to a son and daughter. Leta was at home while Irving ran the Steinberg Grain and Feed Supply, a business apparently begun years before by his father.
Leta died on March 28, 1995 in Passaic, a city she had called home for over 60 years.
|Last page of Velma's |
wedding guest book
Don’t let the labyrinth of lampoons and belles-lettres languish at the A to Z April Challenge.