Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I found Al Moncada’s column (“Are our children stats?”) in the August 19, 2016 Manteca Bulletin to be very interesting and helpful (because I agree with him).
My Norwegian grandmother came to the US at about age 16, leaving her remaining parent and sister back in Norway. She worked as a washer woman until she met a handsome Swede. They married and lived very well until he became an alcoholic, lost his job and died in the ‘workhouse’ of alcoholism. My grandma never spoke Norwegian to me. She insisted her children speak English because they were now Americans. She raised six children (when my grandfather died, she was pregnant with her 6th child) on a farm by herself without running water or electricity in Northern Minnesota.
All of them were educated either in college or with an ability to work at one profession or another. Her family went from being well-to-do to living in poverty. For example, my mother worked as a servant so she could get her education and become a country teacher. No help was taken from the government — my grandmother was able to adjust, get a job cooking at the school, farm her farm and raise her children (by the way, she had never farmed, she was raised in Bergen, Norway — a fairly large city and a major international port). All of them became productive and she was a proud citizen of the US all of her life.
She used to write to me in broken English but she wrote! For presents she would send pretty pictures cut out of a magazine or sew doll clothing and she was loved. She died when I was 6 so I have few memories of her but her indomitable spirit lived on in my mother and my aunts and uncles. My father’s mother had a similar experience as her husband was killed in an accident leaving her with 5 children but she had parents (immigrants) living in this country and had a little bit easier time of it; however, her children also had to work and had to know how to earn a living. They all spoke English, read English and their parents were very, very happy to be American citizens.
I do not think it helps anyone trying to live in a foreign country if that country tries to adapt to ‘them’ because it seems to keep them on an edge — not really one country or the other but a balancing act between countries. My relatives always spoke of the ‘old country’ but knew that they now were members of the new country and tried to adapt by the second generation, they were all adapted and felt no call to go back to the ‘old country’ except curiosity. I love to read about Norway and Sweden and am proud of my heritage, especially my very brave and loving grandparents, but I am American not Swedish-Norwegian-American but American of Swedish-Norwegian ancestry. My kids laugh and say they are ‘just Americans.’