One thing I remember about our arrival, after the USS General Langfiitt had finally maneuvered into the mooring at New York City’s Hudson River passenger terminal, were the varied colored armbands worn by the different groups of reception officials who came on board to greet us.Respresentatives of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) wore navy blue armbands and had Yiddish name badges.,,
Quotes from this chapter
Our steamer trunk was forwarded to the new address and we never had any further contact with NYANA after that. Even though we would have been eligible for assistance, we never took a penny after our first three weeks in the U.S.
We exited through the doors to the reception hall and found ourselves on the ground in the United States of America.
I remember I went to the Ripley’s menswear store on Pitkin Avenue to buy my first good suit of clothes. You could get a sharp-looking suit at Ripley’s for $35.
My friend Herbie had another bit of advice for me. “You can’t call yourself Munye here. You need an American name.”
Whatever challenges lay ahead—and there were bound to be many—I knew that I had overcome infinitely more difficult circumstances in the past.
I made $40 a week, enough to cover my rent and food and also put some money aside in my new bank account. Saving was important. I was starting at the bottom of the ladder in America but it was my goal to move up a few rungs.
What a wonderful break! We had not yet even met a vocational counselor and already, almost out of nowhere, Tateh was already set with a job.
That was the same day that I told Herbie and Sheila that I planned to marry Florence, although I didn’t say it to Florence for fear of scaring her off.
Once a week we would go to Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston Street, which was not yet as famous as it is today. We had never heard of foods like pastrami and corned beef in Skala. But, oh, was it good!
Jacob had worked for many years in the sheet metal trade in New York and was now the president of the United Hebrew Trades Sheet Metal Union.
Tough luck for him. He started it. I was satisfied that I had shown him, and others like him, that bullying Jews can be bad for your health—even if I had to lay low for a while afterwards.
Book excerpts about the people, places and events mentioned in the book
Brooklyn union leader originally from Skala helped Shulem Edelstein find employment
Friend from Eschwege and Brooklyn who advised Munye to change his name
The author's partner in life and business
Yiddish scholar who introduced Michael and Florence
Lower East Side roofer who was Michael's first employer
Widowed landlady who rented to the Edelsteins
The Edelsteins were processed as new Americans at the HIAS Building in New York
Shopping district in Brownsville area of Brooklyn
Site of "Guys and Dolls" social events for young singles
Brooklyn park where young singles congregated
Shulem finds employment during his first week in America
When Michael Met Florence at the David Marcus Club