NOTE: Basya or Baska was my Grandma Bessie’s Russian name. This letter was written by her brother Mikhail from Ekaterinoslav. The letter was dated July 12, 1913, and reached her just before she left for America. This was the first letter we pulled out of the jumble of letters in the bag, and it turned to be the very first letter.
Your letter with a picture of your house and a postcard from the wedding I have received, and I am very grateful for this letter and the pictures. My dear sister, I am very sad I could not say goodbye to you personally.
Four years ago, I didn't believe someone from our family could go to the United States, but what can you do, not everything can be done the way you want it. I want terribly to look at you [before you go]. I would like to see you before your departure--but this is impossible. That's why I am so happy to get the picture. I can say goodbye while looking at your face. I look at your face and wish for you everything you want in a new place.
Forgive me that till now I didn't write you. I am afraid this letter might miss you. There has been so much work in the store and it's been so hot, it's been hard to write. OK, Baska, let's say goodbye in a letter.
First have a safe trip and a happy life in America. Let your life in America be your reward for all the sufferings you've had before. Let God bless you and give you strength and health to settle in a new place, and have everything you want in your new life. But listen Baska, do not forget about us. We will worry about you if you don't write to us often. You know how much we love each other and how much we are devoted to each other. Never forget about us. Therefore you must write to us all the time and about everything. I agree and I approve of your decision and I am glad for it. Good girl. I hope it won't take you long to settle into living in America, and to get work and have pleasure. Keep your spirit high. Be energetic, have hope. Do not lose your spirit under any circumstances. And look energetically through the eyes of life. I am sure you will be satisfied that you left.
Maybe we will have a chance to meet again--everything is possible.
Forgive me Baska, but I know that you did not see many people in your life and seldom had relationships and therefore listen to the advice of an older brother. Don't be too trustful with people you don't know, especially in a foreign land. Be cautious, there are many bad people, actually more bad people than good people. I am telling this to you in general, because you are just a young woman who hasn't seen the big world.
I promise to you I will write, and I ask you to write to me here. When you'll be on the ship, definitely send me a postcard. And especially on the day of your arrival in New York. Please know, Baska, that I am exactly the same Mikhail [Michael] who loves you all and never forgets anyone. I was only too lazy to write. But I won't change. I won't become a cold person to you. My soul is always with you and feels for you, I feel pain if you do. But right now, I cannot help you with anything because of how circumstances have changed for the worse.