Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Day Without

My grandmother (Babci) came to the United States from Poland in 1930 when she was 16. She came to be with her father (her mother had been dead for some years), who had died in an accident while she was journeying to the US. She ended up living with my grandfather's family, who had also emigrated from Poland (my great-grandmother, Busia, never learned to speak English). She worked in a cigar factory to earn money. Eventually, she married my grandfather, even though he couldn't dance.

My Dziadzi was quite the entrepreneur. He had a bookstore, then they ran a diner. My dad was raised above the restaurant. They eventually retired to the suburbs (after the riots, things weren't so stable in Detroit). Dziadzi had rental homes and another diner.

My cousins knew the restaurant, but my siblings and I did not. I got to look in the window before they tore it down to expand one of the car plants, but I never knew the life. I love hearing stories about the restaurant. I was always so amazed that Babci spent so much of her days cooking and running a restaurant, all while raising a family. One of the things that always impressed me the most about the restaurant was that my grandparents helped other immigrants by giving them jobs. Some of the women they employed weren't legal, some didn't speak English.

My grandparents knew what it was like to struggle in a new land. They knew what it was like to raise a family miles and oceans away from the families that raised them. I have relatives who have emigrated from Poland within the last twenty years. I have relatives who don't speak English. Because of this, and because I believe that this country is what it is because of immigration (including the horrible parts, like the way the country and its citizens still treat Native Americans), I have decided that I will not purchase anything tomorrow in support of A Day Without and Immigrant. I am even going to wait to purchase yarn for my next project (Baby Bolero from One Skein). I don't see a way to miss work, or I would. I would even join the rally in Grant Park. Since I can't, I will do my small, small part by not purchasing anything.

Edited to Add May 1: Chicago organizers are not calling for a boycott.

1 comment:

SSK said...

I am very proud to be your sister.