It was core, but there was more

My grandfather was a campesino in Mexico. He worked the land and his children worked beside him all of his life. He worked hard. He worked all of his life. What my grandfather often said, “Work is your best friend. It’ll be the only one that vouches for...

Believing in a Union She Couldn’t Join

My grandmother came to poverty in her 30′s. She was through dint of circumstance forced to work as a domestic housekeeper and this was a woman who did the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in ink in something under an hour. Being a black woman in Texas in...

Flight from Germany

My father’s parents, Wilhelm and Eva Holt, were family doctors in the 20’s and 30’s in Zarow, a small German town in lower Silesia. After World War II Zarow became part of Poland. As it became clear that Hitler and the Nazis were dominating the country, and the threat...

The value of Learning

My maternal grandma, Letty, used to lay in the dark with me and tell me stories of her youth. She became a teacher at the age of 16 and, at one point, drove by horse and buggy to three different one room school houses in rural WV to teach young ones. As she got older,...

Papa Was a Meat Packer

My grandparents immigrated from southern Italy. My grandfather arrived first in 1912. He worked for Swifts Meat Co in Cambridge, Mass. It was his job to salt and pack the hams into huge wooden barrels to be cured. He stood about 5 feet 2 inches tall and would...