“Keep reading.”

Again we took turns reciting Kathryn’s letters aloud. For the next couple of months they were filled with nothing except how much she and Jim Dahlin loved each other, and Paris, and the world in general. She didn’t announce her pregnancy until December, although she was at least seven months along by my calculations. How lucky, how blessed among women I have become, she wrote. In June Kathryn wrote her sister that James had taken a job with a brokerage house in New York owned by some Princeton friends and that they expected to leave Paris in late July.


It was such a very rough passage, a gale howling and the ship tossing all the time that caused Kathryn to go into labor two weeks before her Paris doctor had predicted. However, she reported that the ship’s doctor was more than equal to the task and the child was born healthy somewhere in the North Atlantic. The boat is still tossing a lot as it has been all week, but not as badly. Perhaps I have become used to it, an old salt getting her sea legs at last. James is concerned that there might be a problem with the birth certificate. He wants to make sure that our son has an American birth certificate and the date is correct, but the ship’s captain has been very good about this. I think he wants our son to someday be president of the United States as much as Jim does. Our son. We shall call him Timothy.

Afterward the letters—and Kathryn’s letterhead—were addressed from a wonderfully chic apartment in New York City near Central Park, where Kathryn took Timothy every day. It isn’t Paris, but the daily walks do us both good. The letters also exclaim that Timothy is growing so fast that you would hardly believe it. He seems so much bigger and smarter and more advanced than the other children his age, and that James is flourishing in his new job. The only thing she needed to make her completely happy, Kathryn wrote, was for them to return to St. Paul and soon. I miss you all so much! Yet Jim seems insistent that we remain here. Do not worry. James has given me everything a woman could ask from a dear and loving husband and I have no doubt that one day he will give me this, as well.

This went on for another year, until …

August 17, 1936

New York City

Dearest Rose:

There is no place quite as hot as New York City in August. How I long for the cooling breezes of Minnesota and its many lakes. I believe Jim is missing St. Paul as well. Just the other day he was reminiscing about the boat rides on Lake Como. Still, Timothy seems to thrive in the heat. How big he has become! He must have grown two inches since you saw him on your last visit. I had an interesting encounter two days ago that might amuse you. Jim brought me to a party on Park Avenue thrown by clients of his firm. I was conversing with a group of women there that I knew when a man, a stranger to me, arrived and all conversation turned to him. His name was Louis Buchalter. It was whispered to me that he was a gangster, that he had killed a man. I laughed. I did not mean to, sweet Rose, but the women spoke like characters in a Scott Fitzgerald novel. At the risk of seeming condescending, I revealed to them that I was from St. Paul, that I knew gangsters; that I had danced with gangsters and more; that I was unimpressed by gangsters. Somehow these words were passed to Mr. Buchalter, who introduced himself to me. He asked if I was indeed from St. Paul and whether I had the acquaintance of several friends of his, such as Mr. Jack Peifer and Mr. Harry Sawyer. I confessed that I had met those men, and Mr. Buchalter led me to a table in the corner, where we spoke in private for some time. He was particularly sentimental over Verne Miller, whom I was led to understand Mr. Buchalter had very much cared for, and poor Frank Nash, whom he also liked. It had been three years since the Kansas City Massacre, yet clearly Mr. Buchalter was still upset by what he referred to as “that accident in K.C.” Of course it had not been an accident, and I told him so. Perhaps I shouldn’t have.

“Wow,” I said.

Nina paused before taking a sip of wine. “What?” she said.

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“Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter.”

“What about him?”

“He ran Murder Incorporated.”

“Murder Incorporated?”

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