How are you and your family? I hope you still remember me. I’m writing to you in order to express how grateful I am for your help and pieces of advice you gave to me. What is more, you asked me to tell you my story. So I would like to start from the very beginning.
In 1916 life in Austria-Hungary was unbearable because of the First World War. Thus, a lot of people were uprooted and moved to America. Our family was not an exception. We were forced to flee from our native country, despite the fact that we didn’t have any desire to do it. Of course, we understood that being refugees was no easy task. What is more, we were aware of the fact that we would have to rough it for the first time. Nevertheless, as all economic migrants we had faith in happy future in another country without undergoing discrimination or prejudice against us. As a matter of fact, we hoped that immigration would do us good. Still, we realised that it would be an outward trip. All in all, we decided to get away from Austria-Hungary. Needless to say, we didn’t have time to make our travel arrangements. That’s why we took only basic necessities such as clothes, food and bedding and immediately set out in order to get away from it all.
After three weeks of sailing, our ship docked in New York Harbour and we disembarked as soon as we could. Before we were able to go to New York City we had to pass through health and legal inspections at Ellis Island. Indeed, it was very important to show that you were not sick. I visited diverse doctors. They examined if I looked healthy enough to enter the country. To be honest, I was a bit afraid of the “eye man” but fortunately I coped with that too. After examinations we went to our destination – the Lower East Side.
Frankly speaking, it was very vibrant and stunning. Nevertheless, I had nostalgia for the good old days and experienced a real culture shock. For the first time it was hard to get accustomed to life there but you helped a lot. We settled in tenement apartment building as you advised us. Despite the fact that there were seventeen families except for our, we lived in peace with all neighbours because they were remarkably friendly. We didn’t suffer the animosity. It was just a stereotype that people treat migrants this way. Nevertheless, we needed to integrate into new neighbourhood as soon as possible. The first thing to do was to find a job. To tell the truth, it was easy. I started to work as a garment worker. I must admit that it was hard but I got the hang of it after a little time passed. My father was very grateful to yours for the opportunity to work in his workshop.
The next important thing was to divide our household chores. Everyone did their bit in order to keep house clean. I was responsible for cooking. To be honest, I needed to cook a lot of food as our family was big. However, I liked it and did with great pleasure. Bumuelos became our favourite dish since you first taught us how to cook it. As you could already guess the first thing we bought was a stove. We needed it to heat our flat and be able to cook. As a matter of fact, there was very little space in our apartment. We had only two beds. So I slept on crates.
Obviously, we didn’t have much free time but sometimes we needed to recharge our batteries. For that purpose we went for a wander around Manhattan cobbled streets and soaked up this unique atmosphere. Occasionally we went to the Nickelodeon to watch Charlie Chaplin movie or listen to foxtrot. My brothers used to play stickball on Orchard Street. It was real fun for them because they liked to spend time in the open air.
Hope we will meet someday and I will be able to thank you in person for everything you’ve done for me and my family. I’m looking forward to hear from you soon.