The Immigrants

All my grandparents were immigrants. Three were from Lithuania and one was from Scotland (although her parents had migrated there from Lithuania) My father’s father was a tailor in NYC and made men’s suits. He was a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, and knew Sidney Hillman, the first president of the union who was also from Lithuania. My father’s mother was a seamstress, doing piece work in NYC. She was a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

These immigrants, who knew no English when they arrived, were union members and were able to afford to buy a summer home as well as the home they lived in. Working families these days can barely afford an apartment in some cases. My mother’s father had a number of jobs including working at Grumman on Long Island. He also did landscaping and had an ice business before refrigeration. He later developed emphysema, which could be attributed to breathing metal dust. My mother’s mother, who dreamed of being a teacher was a domestic for a wealthy family and often had to work on holidays making food for her employer rather than her own family. They all worked really hard to make a life in the U.S. Both my parents were union members as well… my father was a pressman (printer) in a corrugated box plant and my mother was a civil servant working for Nassau county in NY.