Monday, August 20, 2007

An Immigration Story (Part I)

Dear All,

I often write posts on this site relating events in the news to abstract economic theories and technical empirical studies. This mountain of theory and evidence so often gets dismissed by skeptics of economic science as irrelevant to their own lives and families. Too often we struggle to see the human face of the opportunities free markets afford us. Jagdish Bhagwati also speaks of this need for a more human face for topics such as immigration, trade, and globalization.

The story begins in Nebraska in 1974 with an interview by my grandfather with his uncle, my great-great uncle.

Too often we neglect to keep account of family history until the source of such information is no longer available. For that reason I shall always be pleased that on Friday, February 15, 1974, I was fortunate enough to be able to have a visit about such things with my Uncle **** **** of Minden, Nebraska.

At that time Uncle **** was 88 years of age and had just returned home from the hospital. He had been hospitalized because of an ulcer and possible heart problems. However, on this date he was in good spirits and very able and willing to visit. He was best able to visit with one person at a time because his hearing was poor. He and I sat at the kitchen table while others present were in the living room.

This story of family history started when I asked Uncle **** if he remembered his mother’s spinning wheel. He said he sure did and wondered what had become of it. I told him that I had it and had started to restore it, that it was in pieces in a box, and that the wheel would need some repair parts which I planned to make. He told me to keep it as nearly like the original as possible and added that he would like to see it again. I assured him that I would bring it to Minden for him to see after I had completed the restoration job. He told me that the Danish name for a spinning wheel is “ruck.”

(This is not a part of our visit, but I believe should be of interest to those who might read this account. My dad, ******* ******, told me that when Uncle **** was a young man he used the wheel and pedal to drive the bellows on a forge that he built. The wheel could not stand the strain and broke up. Dad said he gathered up all of the parts and put them in a box which he placed on a shelf in the shop. Here they stayed until his parents **** and **** **** moved to town in 1917. At that time Dad asked his mother for the spinning wheel and she was pleased to give it to him. Dad always planned to restore it, but did not get it done.)

I will continue with the transcript tomorrow, and I will post it in 3 parts. It speaks to the history of my own family, but also to the history of this country as a Nation of Immigrants, in the words of President John F. Kennedy.

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