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Thursday, May 02, 2013

response to wedding invitation

Tirana le 12 Juin 1932

     Je remercie Votre Excellence et son Excellence Madame Bernstein pour leru aimable invitation a' laquelle je vie ferai un plaisir et un honneur de vi'y rendre.
     Veuiller agreer Excellence les assurances de va très haute consideration.
          Maître de ceremonies de la maison de sa majesté la Reine Mère


Son Excellence
    Monsieur Bernstein
minstre des Etats-Unis
á Tirana

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Letters from my Grandmother

I'm at the YIVO center, reading through the documents of Herman Bernstein.

Here is one letter from my grandmother

27 rue des Pitons
Geneva, December 26 [1933?]

Dearest Mother and Father,
First of all I must tell you that the trip in the plane was the most wonderful and the calmest method of traveling that I've ever experienced!  You know how bright and sunny it was when I left Tirana -- well, it stayed that way until we had crossed about half of the Adriatic.  Then we saw grat masses of thick white clouds ahead.  Nothing daunted, we rose above them, and flew on in the brilliant sunlight, while far below sailed the Durazzo-Bari boat under a cloudy grey sky...  The tremendous vibration of the three motors - which I had been warned about as something very unpleasant -- was no greater than if I had been riding in a truck, and the road was certainly much smoother than it would have seemed on the best road in a truck!  We arrived in Bari a little ahead of time -- not quite 12:30!

Mr. Krasnigi's man was not there to meet me, although I had to wait about an hour for the officials to get through the passports and baggage of all the passengers.  Finally the airline bus started and we got to Bari at almost 2 o'clock.  I wasn't getting along too well with my Italian when an agent of the white Star Line offered his services.  We got along beautifully then.  I checked my baggage, dashed over to the main post office to get my two telegrams off quickly, and then trotted over to a very nice restaurant.  I the midst of lunch I was surprised to see a charming your man come over to me, stretch out his hand and ask, "Are you Miss Bernstein?"  I'm not any longer, but I said yes, anyway.  He sat down, ordered lunch for himself and offered the most profuse apologies in the world for not having me me at the aerodrome.  It seems his car was under repair at the time and, besides, he had been tremendously busy with shiploads of olives from Albania, I think.

So I sat there between the two men and was hugely entertained.  They both told me they knew you-- which is quite possible-- although I'm not so sure that *you* knew *them*.  (The *you* refers to Father, not Mother.)  Finally the US man - who is one of the most important business men in Bari, by the way-- insisted on paying my bill.  He absolutely refused to pay any attention to my protests.

Then we marched on to the train - 4:15 was drawing near by that time.  I got my bags, the US man insisted on buying me a couple of sandwiches and some fruit, because he said there was no restaurant on my particular train.  (He proved to be wrong...)

A couple of hours out of Bari the weather began to change.  By the time we got to Milan next morning the fog was so thick that you couldn't distinguis objects outside 5 yards away!  There was a certain amount of snow on the fields here and there, but, surprisingly enough, it disappeared as we got near Geneva.  The conductor compained bitterly about the lack of snow in Switzerland -- it was ruining the winter sports and, consequently, the tourist trade.  By the time I got to Geneva, the weather settled down to waht it has been for the past month -- a cloudy, slightly misty affair, with occasional cold, damp winds.  There's been no sun here for at least four weeks and it may last for four weeks more.  (To think I had to leave Tirana for this!)

When I arrived at the station, all excited, no one was there to meet me!  You can well imagine my disappointment... However, I got into a taxi and drove up to the rue des Pitons.  Jozsi was there-- but not Nicky!  So Jozsi and I went out to dinner and he explained the whole thing to me.  I had telegraphed that I would arrive at 5:18 on Friday evening.  The telegram was garbled worse than it is in Tirana -- I saw it read EINE insted of FIVE.  So Nicky had taken it to mean NINE!  You probably think he should have verified it at the station... well he tried to, but there were no trains coming in from Milan at either of those times, so he thought I had taken some other train.  You see, Krasnigi made a mistake:  he told me the train arrived in Geneva at 5:18.  But it arrived in Lausanne at that time!  It didn't get to Geneva until 6:40 (according to the time table, that is- we were a little late).

Anyway, when Jozsi and I came back from dinner, Nicky was at the house, getting dressed to go to the station to meet me.  I never saw anyone so surprised and bewildered as when I burst into the room!

My cold is much better -- I've been staying quietly at home most of the time.  Nicky is feeling and looking very well -- a little thinner than wehn he was in Tirana, but we don't object, since it's more becoming.

David wrote a nice letter to Nicky from Havre.  He had a good time here, I think.  At the pension where Nicky and he ate there was a group of four or five American boys -- nice fellows.  They all enjoyed being together.
Nicky has done a great deal of work, he and everyone else tell me.  I can see it myself, since his thesis is almost 3/4 done.  Some of it has already been looked over by the assistant and declared very satisfactory.  Nicky is planning to mention Mr. Osman in his list of acknowledgements.  He'll send him a copy, of course.  But the thing can't be printed until after he passes his exams, I believe, although it has to be all ready and approved by the Professor long before (in Nicky's case, that is).  Nicky's very confident about passing the exams -- he's been studying regularly and will do so even more when he finishes his thesis.

Just at present, though, he's declared a moratorium for a week.  It's the Christmas vacation and I've just come so we've  decided he's entitled to a vacation!

We celebrated on Saturday night by going to the movies to see *City of Lights*.  It was very good indeed.  We both enjoyed it thoroughly.

On Saturday afternoon, Dr. Friedheim came to tea.  It seems he had been out of town and so had not received Nicky's note for about ten days.  He's awfully nice.  He got his degree in 1924 and has been studying and working ever since, although he has no practice.  He was with the Rockefeller Institute in New York for two years, and is now working with Ashkenazy whom he almost worships.  He speaks a good English, a better French, and, I am sure, a best German.  I think he is German Swiss.  He said he'd drop in again in a few days.

You haven't heard yet from Violet about a job for me, have you?  I suppose I can't expect word until after the holidays.

We're sending you a little package of a few things you can't get in Tirana -- barley for instance.  I mention this, not because it's so important, but because I don't want you to be too mystified when Suleyman comes in with the slip.

Oh, before I forget:  it seems there was some sort of mixup about the telegram you sent to Geneva about David.  Nicky tells me he wrote you about it, but I'm not so sure you understood what he was driving at.  The telegram was addressed to David and Nicky.  When it got here it was addressed to David alone and they had a terrible time locating him.  Finally he received it and was surprised to read in a telegram addressed to himself: "No word from David" -etc. etc.  The next day, after David left, Nicky got a telegram addressed to himself alone, with exactly the same text!  That's why *he* answered too.

Nicky is very jealous; he just remarked that I've never written *him* a letter as long as this one!

In a day or two I'll send the manuscript of the Odessa letter -- I was so busy talking Italking on the train to a little family that was in my compartment, that I didn't have the opportunity to complete the revision.

With best, best love and kisses to you both,