Day 6 – Roots

TODAY’S NUDGE: Write about your hometown, your roots, or where you come from.

I read today’s prompt in my email and immediately had a Rascal Flatts song pop into my head.

I’m from a little corner of Brooklyn, it’s been called the Garden Spot of the World. I and those who live(d) there call it Greenpoint.  Some call it Little Poland because so many Polish immigrants have settled there or come in work for at time and then return to Poland.  But it has a good mix of Polish, Italian, and Irish families.  On the “other side” of the neighborhood you have your Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.  But they all came here for the same purpose…..a better life, the American dream.

My late father was a Polish immigrant that came here at the age of 17.  My late mother was born in the apartment her parents lived in Greenpoint.  Her youngest sister is the only one to have been born in a hospital.  I was born 3 days before Halloween and my mother used to call me Pumpkin, even though I in no way resembled one.  When I was barely three weeks old, she left me with my grandparents so that she and my dad could celebrate Thanksgiving out of state.  A week later I was baptized in the same church they were married in.  The same church all my family was baptized in, married in, and eventually buried from.

My father lost his father at the age of 2.  In a three-month span, my Grandmother lost her husband, her infant daughter, and saw her uncle murder by a band of soldiers over his request to be allowed to keep a milk cow for the children.  Soon after their home was confiscated by the German army as a headquarters for their officers.  It took my grandmother 25 years to come back to the US.  She was born here, but her parents took her to Poland when she was 12 or 13 even though she didn’t want to go.

My maternal grandmother was also born in the US and her parents took her back to Poland when she was 6.  She came back, by herself, single and pregnant at the age of 18.  She raised my eldest aunt as a single parent for almost 3 years before she met and married my grandfather.  He was born in Poland, came to the states at the age of 11 and lived with his brother, at some point he worked in the coal mines of Pennsylvania before being called up to serve with Haller’s Army in World War I.  He came back to the states after and settled in Greenpoint.  He was a harsh man, a cruel man my aunts, uncles, and mother would say.

As I look back at the generations before me, my grandparents, my great grandparents I realize they were all dreamers.  My great grandparents came here with a dream, I’m sure of it. Whether they got to realize that dream I don’t know.  Maybe they came here to earn enough money to achieve their dreams back in their homeland.  As far as my paternal ones go, I think they did.  They had a house, a farm, an orchard, live stock.  I don’t know much about the maternal ones.

The thing I miss the most about my hometown after family….is the FOOD!  You can’t get food like that out here in Idaho.  But things are changing so much, when I see pictures I don’t recognize some places anymore.  It’s being gentrified left and right, yuppies are taking over, rents are astronomical.  There is no way I could ever afford to live there now.  But I miss things about it just the same.



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