Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday March 28, 2006 Immigration

I'm turning into my grandfather! Hopefully!

I didn't know my grandfather very well, but I have this image of a very kind and thoughtful man who worked hard to keep his family happy and healthy. He lived a long time and was very intelligent. I would like to be remembered like him.

Grandad was born in Berlin, Germany in 1877. His father was a carpenter and they lived on Belejank strase near what became Templehofer air field. Granddad attended Kindergarten under Kaiser Wilhelm when Germany was being militarized. The children would march at recess. Grandad's folks wanted to get away from that, so they sold everything and left everybody they knew and traveled by boat and train to this strange new frontier town of Kansas City, Kansas in 1884. Mud streets, no street lights, saloons and cowboys – quite a change from civilized Berlin. They had to learn new language and new customs and start a whole new life here. This was before the reforms of Teddy Roosevelt – no child labor laws. Granddad learned his letters and numbers and at the age of 15 went to work in the meat packing plants for 5 cents an hour. He worked hard and eventually made 10 cents an hour. In the late 1890s he married an irish lass from Chicago and they ended up in Wichita, Kansas. They were married for over 50 years. Grandad worked in the meat packing plants for over 50 years and raised 6 children. Although he had little formal education, he read constantly with an enquiring mind and insisted that all of his children complete their high school education. Grandad would get the Chicago Tribune Sunday paper and read from front to back and then discuss the events and discoveries of the times. Grandad lived through the early days of electricity and electric lights, radio, automobiles, airplanes, television, two world wars and the great depression until he died in 1969. He was 92.

His legacy: He cared for his family. He was loyal. He worked hard. He enjoyed life. He kept learning his whole life. He was a kind and caring man. He left behind a loving family and they, in turn, have passed on his traits.

I hope I turn out to be just like him.

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