Life as the Child of a European Immigrant

| October 14, 2017 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Life as the Child of a European Immigrant 01I am the daughter of two European immigrant.

I was born in 1954, Smack in the middle of the baby boomer years. I am a first generation American. I’m also an immigrant’s granddaughter. My mother and her parents arrived here from Vienna in 1939, and landed on Ellis Island and theirs was only the beginning of a struggle faced by all immigrants today.

Even though my grandmother was orphaned during World War I, she was lucky to have moved to Austria where she received a good education and learned English. So when she landed in Brooklyn with some cash given to her by her brother from money he earned in his haberdashery business, she was able to open up a dry goods store under the L train in Brooklyn. As immigrants their work was hard and the hours were long.

Life as the Child of a European Immigrant - writing for blissI really learned a lot about my grandmother’s struggles while studying her life and writing her story in my first memoir, Regina’s Closet:

Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal.

In her retrospective journal, which I discovered in her closet thirty years after her passing, she spoke of World War I breaking out on the streets of her childhood town and the battles she fought during her life in Poland and subsequent immigrations to Austria, France and finally to the United States.

Growing up in an immigrant home was different because there was waste was kept to a minimal. My parents always shopped for fresh food everyday and nothing was wasted. I got punished if I didn’t finish the food on my plate I had only a few outfits which I’d rotate a few times each week. During dinner conversations, my parents and grandparents shared their immigration stories of packing all their belongings into a small suitcase and crossing the Atlantic in a ship-full of immigrants. They spoke of the illnesses aboard the ships and how many people died. From the day they landed on American soil, they were thankful for every aspect of their life in their new homeland. They were what we’d call proud Americans, and my father was just that until the day he died in 1991.

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning author, poet, blogger and speaker and author of eight books. She speaks on writing for healing and transformation. Her book, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life, is due out in September 2017 by Loving Healing Press and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. More at dianaraab.com.

 

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