Joan Cordon of St. George shares a short story about how her family’s old world traditions have changed or evolved from living in America. Grandfather’s Will: My German born grandfather settled in Wisconsin and began a dairy farm where my mother and her brother were raised. My father was a hired man on their farm for several years. When anyone asked to take my mother out on a date my grandfather only allowed her to go if her brother accompanied them. My grandfather made an exception for the hired man who would eventually become my father.
They married and moved to Illinois where my father could find work at U.S. Steel Company. When my grandfather died in 1952, he left the entire farm to my mother’s brother as was the custom in old world German families. Mother never knew of her father’s will because her brother went to the bank and mortgaged the farm enough so that he could send his sister half of the value of the farm. It was many years later that my mother learned of her brother’s generosity. It may have been German tradition to leave all to the eldest son, but it was the eldest son’s love of his sister that changed tradition.
I (Lin) remember growing up in Southern California in the 1950’s; my best friend Mary Anne Schmitt’s father was from Germany and her mother was from Italy. Having different backgrounds religiously and culturally, this couple were quite successful at blending their cultures into a truly American lifestyle. The dad agreed to have the children raised in the Catholic faith while the mom learned to cook German dishes specializing in a lovely pork roast with sauerkraut as well as her traditional Italian spaghetti and pasta. I loved to eat at their house. Each spouse brought their specialties and unique traditions to blend into a totally new American household. Talented as a musician, the dad taught piano lessons and was in a private band that played at dances to bring in extra money while the mom stayed at home 24/7 dedicated to rearing their three children. Two sons and a daughter attended Catholic schools, college, married and raised blended families of their own with spouses of immigrants from other ethnic cultures. They lived the American dream. Tell us about your family briefly. I’ll help you edit. NEXT TIME: The American Dream.