From “Paper Life,” by Louise Goldstein

Did the parents, the machatunim,[1] ever meet?

We know from the letter of November 4, 1912, that Louis’ parents were compelled to leave Voronezh.  From the letter below it becomes clear that he did not know precisely where they were, but apparently Fenya knew and was in touch with Louis’ mother Ettel:

Louis to Fenya

I’m grateful for the regards from my mother.  Fenichka, I will write a few words to her.  Please ask her for me to write about her life and her address.  But I wonder why you do not write the address…In my next letter, I’ll write a few more words to her.[2]

From the following letter, it becomes clear that the sister nicknamed “Manya” was also in touch with Fenya.  Which sister was “Manya?” I believe that this was Rose, from the same letter quoted below:

Louis to “Manya”

Dear Manya!

I wrote to you at the address sent to me, but you didn’t receive the letter for some reason. Not having another address, I’ll ask Fenya to pass this one along.

Say hello to Manya, the one who wants to go to America. How is it that she still hasn’t managed things together with him (with Chorny) [Black? a family name?]. [3]

“Chorny” could well refer to Rubin Chernak, Rose’s husband.

There are other tantalizing hints that the families did have some connection:

Fenya to Louis

Lyovochka, I can inform you that your relative Masha is marrying my second cousin. The wedding is this Sunday.[4]

It looks as though Fenya had asked Louis to write to her parents.  Apparently he was not in touch with them; was he annoyed because they had thwarted the two lovers for so long?  One cannot find that request to be unreasonable; any parent would want some communication and show of interest from a fiancé as a token of good faith:

Fenya to Louis

Lyovochka, you write that you have nothing to write about to my family.  Surely you could write at least a few words to them. You write that you find it unnecessary. You write why [aren’t] they interested to know you. Why? Of course they would like to, you see? Surely they can’t know you in writing the way that they would have liked to. But from your side it’s not so good. You should write them something and I advise you to write to my father. Of course to not ask for my hand, as you put it. But otherwise if you don’t write anything to them it’s kind of insulting to them. After all, the young should listen to their elders.[5]

[1]  Yiddish; the parents of a bride and groom, literally the ones who “make the marriage.”

[2] 12-12-1912, New York

[3] New York, 25 May

[4] Ibid

[5] Fenya to Louis, Kiev, February 13, 1913

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