Sunday, March 8, 2015

XIII - Proud and Legal U.S. Citizens

They married September 15, 1951 and I was born in Bielefield, Germany June 21, 1952, we were still displaced persons.
Dad secured a $76 loan for the journey to the U.S. from the International Catholic Migrant Loan Fund on August 14. We all got our small pox shots on August 22, 1953 then left Bremen, Germany airport 2 days on August 24 classified as "Stateless" refugees being sponsored by a contractor in Cedar Falls, Iowa and landing at the old Idlewild, New York airport. I always thought we came by ship, in fact Ellis Island names a ship we supposedly were on, but airline passenger manifests don't lie.

Dad was picky about where we immigrated to. He turned down Canada and Australia because he had to establish a year of residency before his wife and child could join him, the U.S. had no such restriction. So here we are.

I recall them talking about arriving with little money and knowing no English in New York and kind hearted German speaking passengers on  the public bus they were on took up a collection for them.. In fact I did not know any English before I entered nursery school and learned it by assimilation, as did my parents. No wonder my early memories are so chaotic and crazy. The contractor named Hanson put us up at a RR #4 address then we moved to apartments in the College Hill area of Cedar Falls, then Bluff and State Streets. Dad worked as a construction laborer until retirement with a documented 50% disability in his  right arm from the war injury. Just imagine that scenario today! Damn he was a tough, hard working man living the American dream.

And yes, we waited our turn in line, learned English and studied for the honor of being U.S. citizens. On October 9, 1959 we all became U.S. citizens,  They were so proud! We got letters from Iowa Senators and Representatives congratulating us. The small flags we received were special and in constant display.





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