Category Archives: 1900 – 1950

L’dor Vador (Ukraine)

It was a sunny afternoon in Los Feliz, California when my great-grandfather Avram Yitzhak Lehrer, fondly called “Opi” by his children and grandchildren, sat in his garage smoothing out the figures of his latest sculpture, “L’dor Vador,” meaning from generation to generation. In the sculpture, 19 figures stand with their arms around each other, radiating from a Torah (the Jewish ... Read More »

The Immigration story of Robert Johnston Carson (Ireland)

“Honk!” The foghorns call fades as it slips through the ears, and feet clamber unsteadily up the swaying dock towards the ship waiting beyond. The weak wood, barely held together through the metal spikes impaling them, cries out as it’s stressed. The salty breeze stings the eyes and rips through the sails, whipping the air. The breath hitches in the ... Read More »

Journey to America (Netherlands)

Geert Dijkstra, born on November 16, 1911, spent his early years living in the Dutch countryside just outside Leeuwarden, a city in the province of Friesland. As a boy, Geert enjoyed a fairytale-like Dutch childhood, playing rugby, fishing in the dykes near his home, and frog-hunting in local meadows and bogs. At the age of 18, with his education completed, ... Read More »

Story of Mary Kathrin McDermott (Ireland)

Where in Ireland was Mary from? Having been there what did you think of the town? How does it compare to America? Mary was born in 1914 and was from a small town in Ireland called Leitrim. She was the oldest of 10 children in an extremely poor family who made their income by rolling and selling peat bog. Her ... Read More »

Skiing to the Dream (Norway)

Gunnar Rebne immigrated to the United States from Stor-Elvdal, Norway, a small town of nearly 1,000 where most parents started to teach their children to ski at the age of five. Rebne was a young man who wanted to see what the American Dream was all about, so at the age of 20 he decided to take a boat to ... Read More »

Story of Cecil Flora (Italy)

By 1920, almost two million Italians immigrated to the United States in search of the American Dream. My great-grandfather, Cecil and his family were five of the thousands coming from Southern Italy. To learn more about my family’s introduction to America, I went to my grandma, Tomasina Flora. She is Cecil’s oldest daughter and has always enjoyed telling all of ... Read More »

From Wola Ducka, Poland to New York: The Story of David Milliken

Lubelska to Trakt Lubelski to Słoneczna to Zdrojowa. Every day; Lubelska to Trakt Lubelski to Słoneczna to Zdrojowa. This was the path my great-grandfather took to the local grocery market in Wola Ducka, from his house. Clouds of dirt rose behind him as he cycled into town to get food for dinner. Three miles there, three miles back, every day ... Read More »

Guitarist (Germany)

Otto grew up in Germany and at a young age was enrolled with the Nazi youth. After leaving he joined the German Navy and fought in World War Two. He was captured by the British and put in a British camp until the end of the war. He got to go home after the war and got a job playing ... Read More »

True Courage (Poland)

As Atticus Finch said in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what”.  It was courage like ... Read More »

Lester Torok (Hungary)

My Grandma was a spoiled brat. When she graduated high school she demanded her father to buy her a fur coat. Lester Torok, my great grandfather- who I unfortunately never had the honor to meet- immigrated from Hungary when he was a young boy. He came with his mother and two siblings. My grandma told me his story to the ... Read More »

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