Tag Archives: 1930

Letter 1, 1930

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 — .

Eternally yours,

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. —

July 2, 1930

Again a letter from 1930. When you see this: *, it means there is writing in Hebrew lettering that I can’t translate. Sorry.

I don’t know where Bassya is staying and where she is writing the letter from. But it is during the time of their struggling love. Apparently they have chances to see each other, perhaps with no one knowing.

July 2 — 1930

Dear friend Pinchas:

Have just received your letter, and read it through about five or six times. It was good to read every word of it. It feels wonderful to have you be worried about me. It is just like my Pinchas ought to be. It is the second of July and everything is fine just a little too warm up here. I gained four pounds already — am I not doing fine? The old ladies tell everybody that I go to bed with the chickens, I go to bed at nine and read till 12.

I opened a Yiddishe Shule here. My class is under a tree near a water and I have five students, none of them know anything about Yiddish and now they are so proud they can sign their names, they are doing their best. What do you think of me as a teacher?

I have not been lonesome, on account of what happened Sunday. I was miserable and made up my mind not to think. Just rest, and I never knew that there was so much determination in me. When you left — I read “Phibi”  before I fell asleep, and the next morning I wrote a letter to you, which I never mailed to you, and today I thought of tearing it up — like I do many a time, then I thought, you might just as well know what impression you made on me Sunday.

I cannot understand this restful feeling that came over me since I have been here, is it my determination to rest? … I do not know what it is, only I feel there is nothing that can hurt me anymore — it seems like I could stand the greatest pain, and not even shed a tear. I cannot recognize myself. Maybe you my friend can understand it? What created such peace within me?

So Ann and Ella are coming along — they would come — I hope to God they do not. I cannot stand “flesh without soul.” You will not have time to answer this letter because —, anyway Friday there will not be any mail.

It seems I have not seen you a long time, maybe a year or so, yet I am restful, I wonder how long such a feeling can stay with me. Yet does this restfulness bring me happiness — no, it seems everything is *.

Please try and come Friday night —

Your Bassya.

July 7, 1930

This letter has a bit more cursive writing. I will mark these with * and perhaps will be able to fill in the * one day.

With this letter I first realized that Sol, Bassya’s husband, and Philip were friends. How difficult it must have been to be in the same social circles and to see each other often and hide your love. I am glad they did not come up with a secret code to write to each other, but perhaps that would have been easier than the writing I am still trying to decipher.

July 7, 1930 — 10 am

Dearest friend Pinchas:

What shall I say. I have so much to talk to you about — I have so much to tell you — probably what I already told you many a time but feel like telling it over and over again? Is it because I want you to understand exactly what I feel? Oh I know that you understand, then — what is it? I do not know, I only know — that like the drive up the mountains yesterday there is no other way — no turning back … That drive reminds me of our drive in this world — we drove  in a way unknown to us, going we never saw any danger nor knew where it was leading us — when we finally got higher and higher — when we began to realize the danger, there was no turning back we had to keep on going ….

But what is danger when one sits side by side with himself?

July 7, 1930 1:30 pm

Oh day of days — treasure of treasures! I have read your work, Pinchas, read every little line of your three years work — read and thought and then cried — the tears came as if through a storm — hot tears — tears that burned my cheeks — tears that come through feeling — I am happy — I am proud — proud of you my dearest dear. As I read on, I see the progress you’re making and you my Pinchas have told me, that if it were not for me, you could not have written anything of this work. How great it feels to be a part of this work — which is (You.), why should I worry if I find myself in lack of words to describe this feeling — when I know that we can understand each other in silence *

Your own words — how dear are to me the words you have written.

In one of your poems by the name * you say or rather express yourself — * I felt hurt when I read that, you know friend that I can understand and appreciate what you write — and even if no one else understood them, would it not be worthwhile just to write them so that I may read them? Wouldn’t it friend….? Here again I feel like saying things which I shall not write, as usual — but read for yourself what is unwritten — I know you can do it.

There are certain remarks I made in my mind as I read your work and shall tell them to you at the first opportunity. Last night Sol [Bassya’s husband] told me that you had a talk with him you asked him what to do, whether to travel or get married to the “rich girl.” The he remarked “I see Pinchas wants to settle down, he talks a lot of marriage lately.” I told him it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Only you have time yet as you are only 22.

I hardly slept all night I thought and thought — and then, thought some more — and if you want to know what my thoughts were — just think what your thoughts were last night.

I better stop writing, or I’ll be writing things I should not — so good-bye “friend of friends”

Do not forget please — order a Birthday cake, about $2.50, for Sol — let them write out “Happy Birthday Sol-dear from Bassya” and see that a few friends should come down after the meeting. It is Thursday you know.

You know what entered my mind just now? If you could think up some “alphabet” which we could learn and use it — just we two — I would be able to say many a thing which I am trying hard not to say now.


July 10, 1930

This letter tells us that Bassya is in Boyes Springs California, on vacation as she says. Her daughter Lila was born the year before, September 25, and is now almost 10 months old. Why did Bassya go on vacation and leave her daughter at home? In one of the letters she tells that she almost gained 4 pounds already. After the birth of my children I was not worried about gaining weight, but losing it. Was she making herself sick with her love for Philip/Pinchas?

I have translated the word “chaver” as friend. Often it comes off with negative connotations in English, it is not meant this way. Perhaps I will leave the “chaver” untranslated and just replace it with friend when it does not give this derogatory feeling.

Again, when you see an *, it means there is some cursive writing which I am still unable to read.

Boyes Springs
July 10, 1930

Dearest friend Pinchas:

I got your letter last night and only read it this morning, you can guess why. Reading your letter I saw all you went through since you left, my poor Pinchas, what can I do? Have I not had many of these Mondays? And what could you do? I hope when this letter reaches you, you will still be in the good mood of Tuesday. I am coming home Sunday and will not go away again for a long long time. Oh friend….

I feel very happy — unnatural for me — everything sings within me … I feel as I felt Sunday. I feel as if I spread sunshine all around, as if everything I touched came to Life. What a glorious feeling, and why shouldn’t I be happy? Have I not in my possession God’s greatest gift? I wish you could feel that way about it. It would make me so happy.

I read your poem, and I read it over and over again. Pinchas dearest do you realize what you have written? Read it over again for yourself. Oh my friend how proud I am of you. * how much I find in this little line, and what about * you cannot help but feel it jump – fall. My Pinchas I am so proud of you — I do want you to read over what you have written. I do not think you really know that you have written something wonderful. Oh I am so happy.

Write — please write….I love to read them.


July 10, 1930

A word that repeats is “tayrer” which I translate as dearest, I will leave it as is.

This is the last letter from Boyes Springs in California. Note that it is written on the same day as the previous letter.

Boyes Springs
July 10, 1930

Chaver tayrer::

Here I am back in my little room — thinking — It is but five minutes since I have talked to you over the telephone. I had no intention to write to you, this letter, but I must talk to you. I still can hear your voice — oh so sad  — I can feel that you have been thinking again, and this is what I heard through the sadness of your voice “What is my life? where does it lead me? what shall I do? what must I do? Shall I go away? will I be able to be away from her? can I stay here? why doesn’t she see my way? does it pay to give up all my life, my youth — my pleasures for her? does it pay? what does she give up for me? where is her sacrifice? and so on — question after question — your poor heart aches — you feel lost — you do not know what to do.” This is what I got out of the sadness that still rings in my ear, and what shall I say? Oh my Pinchas, I am sorry you met me, but I am not sorry I met you, and I shall never be, no matter what happens. I often think whether you ought to go away — (for your own happiness). I see that your greatest longing just now is to get away far away from everyone, and mostly from me. Yes chaver I see it, and I came to a conclusion that you will not rest until you go away somewheres, and if you do not go — you will feel that you missed something in Life, and it would make me feel terribly unhappy it should happen on account of me. God knows I do not want your sacrifice. All I want is to bring rest to your ever longing soul — to your aching heart, to your troubled mind, but I seem to be a failure. I am sorry. Oh God! how I would want to see you happy. I am happy — but I can’t be completely so — if I have to hear such sadness in your voice. Why can’t you feel like I do? Why don’t you try not to think as I try?

God knows I have plenty to fight in my Life — and the whole fight is within me. Yet I try so hard not to think of it. It would be so much easier for me, if you would try too. Please do, for your own sake, if not for mine.

I am just as miserable as you when I let myself go — when these moods come I try my best to get out of them.

It is now 10 o’clock, and I am still thinking …. Again I want to say that as much as it makes me happy to have you think of me, I want you to think of your own happiness. I want you to be happy. Do whatever you think will give you peace of mind. Do not think of me, for if you will be contended, I will be too.

This will be my last letter my unhappy dreamer. My two weeks vacation are almost over, another two days. I am glad it is over. What have I gained with this vacation? Peace of mind? Have I? No, then what? I have thought night & day for two weeks, what did I gain by all this thinking? I have come to a conclusion. I shall take life as it comes. I see there is no sense in fighting fate. I shall take things easy, at least I’ll try to.

How long will I keep up the Idea of taking things easy? I know myself pretty well. I will not last very long.

Yet I am not sorry that I took the two weeks vacation. Nor am I sorry of anything that happened, because it would not have happened (whatever it may be) if Fate did not want it to happen.

I shall pray for you tonight that you should find peace of mind. Good night my unhappy Dreamer.


November 18, 1930

This is the last letter from 1930.

One is tempted to read between the lines in many of the letters and I was tempted most with this one. Wondering what their physical relationship was seems answered to me here. But it is only my guess and so we are left coming to our own conclusions.

More and more I wish to read Philip’s (Pinchas) letters. What were his responses, his feelings, his writing?

November 18, 1930

My poor dear Boy, he suffers so, he thinks I do not know, do not understand. I understand only too well, but my lot is not an easy one either. I too suffer, the only difference is — somehow, I cannot explain why, but my heart seems full of hope, that some day, some year there will come an end to this unhumanly suffering, and strange as it may seem, it does not feel that death will do it — But on the contrary Life will bring it — Love will come out the winner, and rejoice the sacrifice we have brought — the happiness we have earned. I cannot explain how this feeling came to me. I have no clue at all, but most of the things that happen to us, we are unable to explain them. But he my poor dear Boy, he has not such a feeling or he tries to destroy it. He thinks he is a realist, but in truth he is a fine dreamer, a dreamer no less than myself. Now he wants to leave for New York with the thought of never coming back. He thinks he can forget me, oh my dear Boy, it is too late. He thinks he can go against Fate. Oh he will find out different. He cannot understand me. To him it appears that if I really loved him I would not let him leave — I would beg him to stay, cry — go even on my knees, and make him stay. That would be a very dramatic scene. But my Love is thanks to God a greater one than just a dramatic scene. I want him to be happy, no matter at what cost to me. He thinks he would be happy if I belonged to him — That would bring us happiness — He is wrong — no happiness that comes that way — stays for very long — It only helps kill the soul, and I shall not sacrifice my soul nor his (which is the greatest treasure on earth) at any cost at all. Right happiness must come the right way, and what does my poor Boy make out of it, that I do not love him enough to bring this sacrifice for him. He does not seem to see the great sacrifice we both are bringing and which will some day be repaid to us, and further more he thinks that some day when he has gone to New York I shall meet someone else, fall in Love with him, and belong to him, I shall give him what I deny to him my Boy of my dreams.

He does not know what his going away means to me, he does not know that everything ends for me, but strange enough as it may seem my hope for the future does not die. Why should I detain him — for myself? no I cannot be so selfish — He is too unhappy now — He cannot, it seems make the best of things. He wants to be what in truth he is not — a Realist, what right have I to detain him — maybe a change in everything will bring him satisfaction, maybe he shall be able to continue with his writing — is that not my dream? He must write oh God please help him…. I am willing to suffer twice my share — only give him a little happiness, oh I am sure, if he were able to go on with his writing he would find satisfaction — please help him.

It is terrible days — months without seeing my Dream Boy — without hearing his voice which is as sweet as his soul is beautiful. Will I have the strength to go on. What a life — no looking forward to evenings when I can see him — no waiting with a beating heart for the telephone calls — nothing — just to live in the past — and dream for the future — and nothing but tears to accompany both. But I am willing — if it is thy will — Great Almighty — only see that my dear Boy is repaid in giving him something in Life. He thinks he can forget me — not as long as my heart will long for him — no never… It is too late my dear poor Boy — I am sorry but such is our Fate. Go if you want to. I do not send you away nor do I detain you, you must choose — and I hope you choose well — do not think for one minute what will become of me. I shall have a home — pretty clothes — men shall continue to compliment me — I shall be envied by girls — women — what else can one ask for?…. What if my heart will break? What if I die little by little of longing for you? No one will know it — no one will see it — I shall go on being the happy-go-lucky.

Do not expect to receive a letter from San Francisco, that will tell you how heart broken I am — for I assure you no one will see me so… as long as I live I’ll keep on acting with a smile. I will not have anyone pity me. NO. Go if you must and take my blessings and best wishes — may you have your heart’s desire. But remember You will not forget me….