In her seventh month of pregnancy Bassya realized that she was in love with someone else — Philip Bibel, who made the signs advertising the plays at the Yiddish Theatre. He was educated, talented, an idealist, and they had much to talk about. When her daughter Lila was born on September 25, 1929, Bassya decided she must get Phil out of her heart. They fought their love for two years and for two years she was miserable. She could not stop loving Phil, but she could not bear to hurt Sol, who was so kind to her. Finally, she and Phil decided to commit suicide in order to put an end to their problems. On the morning before their planned escape, Bassya’s uncle noticed that she did not look well and, for the first time, she told someone of her love. Realizing that Bassya had married too hastily, her uncle went directly to Sol and told him the whole story. Sol agreed to give Bassya a divorce if she would allow him to keep Lila, their daughter, for one year. Bassya regretted leaving her daughter, but she felt that she had no other choice.
The stage is set.
It is 1929 and Bassya and Philip fall in love. She is 21 and he is 20 years old.
The earliest letters I found are from Bassya to Phil, dated 1930.
Please note that Pinchas or Pinchos is Philip’s name before it was anglicized.
This first letter has no date, but it is obviously written before Bassya’s divorce in 1931. My best guess is that it was written in 1930.
Pinchas my Pinchas!
This can’t go on — it is wrecking you and doesn’t do me any good. Everyone thinks I ought to paddle my own canoe. Life has been hard and cruel to me, I can’t paddle any longer — the oars are sliding out of my hands. I am tired my only Pinchas — I am tired … and so are you …. You too say I must paddle my own canoe. I am tired — I shall then, choose the easiest way and everyone shall be satisfied. — Your family — my family, and you? in time you will forget … (knowing that there is no hope).
I shall from now on retire to my lonely corner — I shall have nothing to do with the outside world.
You will read this letter and smile bitterly — you will call yourself fool a thousand times. But you will get tired — and truly you have not been a fool. For I loved You and love you as no one will ever love you — not as deep — that I am sure, but you will be loved — and it will eat out my heart — drain out my blood. But the world will be satisfied and so will two families — after all what is one’s life worth — when it can save so much sorrow by sacrificing itself?
Will I forget you in time? — No not till the day of my Death — nor will I stop loving you, but I shall retire to my corner — so as not to see you not hear of you. I shall cry until I’ll have [no] tears left in my eyes….
But you will have to keep up the friendship until we leave you in Carmel. Please be good to me this week — let me see as much of you as possible.
This time it is no more words. It cannot go on like it does — you know my dear Pinchas that it can’t. Our nerves are shattered. I have grown to be bitter — bitter — and you are tired so tired — it cannot go on like this my Pinchas.
I have signed my sentence to death — my own death — with my own hand — but so life dictates me — .
P.S.When I asked your [brother] Leon what they think and say of me in your house — he told me, that they don’t say anything to you — because they know it won’t do any good — so they leave it for “Time to take care of things.”
And this is how time has worked things out. The other side wins.
My oars have fallen out of my tired hands and slipped deep into the water — my canoe shall soon turn over — but I shall drown loving you. —