Friday, July 17, 2009

Young boys in those days often turned to a trade because their families lacked the funds to provide them with a college education. They prepared early, and so Dad, somehow at around twelve years of age (in 1913), obtained a job in a music store and by age 16, he was on the road selling the latest records and also machines to play them, known as Victrolas, for a major company. These phonographs were hand wound and played records that were about 1/4" thick, using steel needles, which seemed to wear down rapidly and had to be changed regularly. At 16 he was considered mature enough to travel from Connecticut to Texas, to open up that new territory for Victor Talking Machine, a big responsibility for a young man. He became the manager of the music department in the largest department store in Ohio in his early twenties.

My uncle Harry, also at around 12 years of age, became an apprentice in an optical shop and learned how to grind lenses for glasses. later, he was able to get a job with Bausch & Lomb, in New York, the largest optical company in the country, having learned his profession well. This is an illustration of how people thought in those days, and then, eventually, he founded his own business and continued as an opticion for the rest of his life. Child Labor, can be as beneficial for some (or many) as it can, for others, seem detrimental.

There never is a lack of opportunity, but there is a decided lack of people who understand what opportunity is.

Both Howard and Harry, while in their early teens, were preparing for their future, not lolling around on the beach or sailing on Long Island Sound. They had developed a work ethic at an early age and neither one of them lost that edge during their lifetime. It persists in our family to this day, thank the Lord.

Dad was born in 1901, and uncle Harry in 1904. Their sister Helen, I believe, in 1907. They were raised as Catholics, and I still have Dad's Missal, with his name in gold letters on the cover; it is in German. Both of his parents were born in Germany, so they were German immigrants to this country and they not only had to learn the language, which they did fluently, but they had to fashion a life for themselves in a new country. Not only that, they had to live through World War I years, when German immigrants often felt the effects of discrimination, and when German accents, once detected, might cause problems as well.

My cousin relates how Grosvater (Grandfather in German) sold his farm when the Klu Klux Klan singled him out in the late 20s because of his German accent, and paraded past his farm home in New Jersy, white Klan outfits, torches and all. He moved to Philadelphia from there. The Klan operated in many states and they were not only white supremists, but held other grievances as well, such as an anti-immigrant attitude, Germans in one area, Irish in another, Polish in yet another. If you believe in Darwin's theory, Survival of the Fittest, then you should have some understanding of these attitudes, if only a smidgen.



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