The Impact of the Frontier On a Jewish Family: The Bibos
by Floyd S. Fierman
Originally published in print by the Southwest Jewish Archives, Fall 1988.
IRVING BIBO TO FLOYD S. FIERMAN, NOVEMBER 2, 1961
10539 Kinnard Avenue
West Los Angeles 24, Calif
November 2, 1961
RABBI FLOYD FIERMAN
c/o Mrs. J. Amshel
Pittsburgh 17, Pa.
DEAR RABBI FIERMAN:
I will certainly appreciate your sending me a copy of the Santa Fé Magazine publication. Again I enjoyed reading your study very very much.
Regarding my Aunt Juana, I believe that you should know that she was first sent to private schools by my Uncle Sol to receive an education in the behavior of civilized Americans (I use the word "civilized" hesitatingly). Subsequently, she became a Jewess, brought her children up in the faith, and I remember visiting her on Jewish holidays which she observed religiously. Her children all had good educations, and except for one boy, were as moral as any people I have ever known. In fact, her daughter, Irma, who is one of the few survivors in this family, is still beloved by my wife and me.
Now, as to certain activities of my father. He was one of the most beloved men in San Francisco. I remember walking to the store with him and having people greet him -street cleaners, bankers, in fact men from all walks of life -and their greetings were not casual, but sincere. My father was President of the Associated improvement Clubs of San Francisco, and at one time ran for Supervisor, but in his nonpractical way he made a speech stating that if he were elected he would close up every back-room saloon in San Francisco. Running on the ticket with him were many Spanish War heroes. Among them I recall the name quite well of a Major Boxton, who was elected Supervisor by the skin of his teeth. My father lost out by some four hundred votes, proving that if he had kept his mouth shut he could have been elected.
Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, my father was one of a committee of three appointed by the Mayor to allocate money for temporary housing and perhaps other things for the relief of the homeless. I still remember putting my ear to the door at Devisadero Street and hearing contractors offer him a large sum of money if he would throw the work their way. I can still hear my father saying, "Get out of here before I break your neck." It was after this committee was dissolved that my father ended up penniless, and this, more than anything else, was the reason why he deserted his wife and children and went to New Mexico.
Now that you have learned that the son who was born to him in New Mexico by a Mexican woman is operating a gasoline station in Oklahoma, I can tell you of the false rumor told to my cousin, Milton, by a Catholic Father who was sick in a hospital, along with Milton, in New Mexico. He told my cousin that this boy, whose name as I recall was Sam Bibo, was shipped out of the country to old Mexico with his mother and later became the President, Miguel Aleman. I have tried to verify this report through certain Mother Superior friends of mine who visited old Mexico but never could affirm this one way or the other. However, your report that the boy is operating a gasoline station seems to establish the fact that the Catholic priest was talking through his hat or suffering from "imaginitis."
In closing, I would like to say to you that when I went to New Mexico after my father's death in order to square his accounts with the world, I found then that he had sold my mother's sheep, had taken certain funds to build a home for this Mexican woman and the boy, had put the boy through school, and otherwise taken care of both of them. When I was asked if I would like to meet the boy, I said, "No" to my cousin, Siegfried Seligman, not because I had anything against the boy but because I felt like I had been hit in the head with a hammer with what I had learned, especially because never in all the years my father had been away had he contributed a five cent piece to the support of his wife or his children. I am certain you can understand my feelings.
I trust that some of this information will be of value to you. May I take the liberty of enclosing a mixed voice arrangement of our "March On, America." It may be that you would want your Sunday School children to learn this.
Next Appendix XI