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The Irish in America (1867) by John Francis Maguire
Prejudices, strong prejudices, there are in the States, as in all countries in which
diversity of race and religion exists; and where this diversity comprehends race and
religion in the same individuals, these prejudices are certain to be the stronger and the
more deeply rooted. The Irish Catholic has to contend against this double prejudice,
which nevertheless is not powerful enough to interfere with the conviction, indeed
admission, as to the moral character of the women of that country and that faith. The
poor Irish emigrant girl may possibly be rude, undisciplined, awkwardÃ¢â‚¬â€just arrived in a
strange land, with all the rugged simplicity of her peasant’s training; but she is good and
honestÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ In domestic service her merit is fully recognized. Once satisfied of the
genuineness of her character, an American family will trust in her implicitly; and not only
is there no locking up against her, but everything is left in her charge. Occasionally she
may be hot tempered, difficult to be managed, perhaps a little ‘turbulent’Ã¢â‚¬â€especially
when her country is sneered at, or her faith is wantonly ridiculed; but she is cheerful and
laborious, virtuous and faithful.
An Instance of very legitimate ‘turbulence’ occurred not long since in one of the most
rising of the great Western cities. There lived, as a ‘help,’ in the house of a Protestant
family, an intelligent and high-spirited Irish girl, remarkable for her exemplary conduct,
and the zeal with which she discharged the duties of her positionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Kate, like many
other people in the world, had her special torment, and that special torment was a
playful-minded preacher who visited at the house, and who looked upon ‘Bridget’Ã¢â‚¬â€he
would call her BridgetÃ¢â‚¬â€as a fair butt for the exercise of his pleasant wit, of which he
was justly proud. It was Kate’s duty to attend table; and no sooner did she make her
appearance in the dining-room, than the playful preacher commenced his usual fun,
which would be somewhat in this fashion: ‘Well, Bridget, my girl! When did you pray
last to the Virgin Mary? Tell me, Bridget, when were you with Father Pat? What did
you give him, Bridget? What did the old fellow ask for the absolution this time? Now, I
guess it was ten cents for the small sins, and $1 for the thumpers! Come now, Bridget,
tell me what penance did that priest of yours give you?’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ On one memorable day,
however, his love of the humorous carried him just too far. A large company was
assembled round the hospitable table of the mistress of the house. The preacher was
present, and was brimming over with merriment. Kate entered the room, bearing a
large tureen of steaming soup in her hands. ‘Ho, ho, Bridget!Ã¢â‚¬â€how are you, Bridget?
Well, Bridget, what did you pay Father Pat for absolution this time? Come to me,
Bridget, and I will give you as many dollars as will set you all straight with the old fellow
for the next six months, and settle your account with purgatory too. Now, Bridget, tell us
how many cents for each sin?’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ It was Bridget’s turn to be playful. Stopping next to
his chair, and looking him steadily in his face, while she grasped the tureen of rich
green-pea soup more firmly in her hands, she said: ‘Now, sir, I often asked you to leave
me alone, and not mind me, and not to insult me or my religion, what no real gentleman
would do to a poor girl; and now, sir, as you want to know what I pay for absolution,
here’s my answer!’ And, suiting the action to the word, she flung the hot steaming liquid
over the face, neck, breastÃ¢â‚¬â€entire personÃ¢â‚¬â€of the playful preacher! Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ The
sentimentÃ¢â‚¬â€the generous American sentimentÃ¢â‚¬â€was in Kate’s favour, as she might have
perceived in the manner of the guests. For the poor preacher, it may be said that the
soup ‘spoiled his dinner’ for that day. He did not make his appearance again for some
time; but when he did, it was as an altered and much-improved gentleman, who
appeared to have lost all interest in the religious peculiarities of Kate, whom, strange to
say, he never more called by the name of Bridget. The warm bath, so vigorously
administered, had done him much serviceÃ¢â‚¬â€Kate said, ‘a power of good.’
No Irish Need Apply
Here is a famous song about a sign many Irish constantly faced.
I’m a decent boy just landed
From the town of Ballyfad;
I want a situation, yes,
And want it very bad.
I have seen employment advertised,
“It’s just the thing,” says I,
“But the dirty spalpeen ended with
‘No Irish Need Apply.’ ”
“Whoa,” says I, “that’s an insult,
But to get the place I’ll try,”
So I went to see the blackguard
With his “No Irish Need Apply.”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.
I started out to find the house,
I got it mighty soon;
There I found the old chap seated,
He was reading the Tribune.
I told him what I came for,
When he in a rage did fly,
“No!” he says, “You are a Paddy,
And no Irish need apply.”
Then I gets my dander rising
And I’d like to black his eye
To tell an Irish gentleman
“No Irish Need Apply.”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.
I couldn’t stand it longer
So a hold of him I took,
And gave him such a welting
As he’d get at Donnybrook.
He hollered, “Milia murther,”
And to get away did try,
And swore he’d never write again
“No Irish Need Apply.”
Well he made a big apology,
I told him then goodbye,
Saying, “When next you want a beating,
Write `No Irish Need Apply.’ ”
Some do count it a misfortune
To be christened Pat or Dan,
But to me it is an honor
To be born an Irishman.
A Chinese Immigrant Makes His Home in Turn-of-the-Century
I heard about the American foreign devils, that they were false, having made a treaty by
which it was agreed that they could freely come to China, and the Chinese as freely go
to their country. After this treaty was made China opened its doors to them and then
they broke the treaty that they had asked for by shutting the Chinese out of their
…I worked on my fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s farm till I was about sixteen years of age, when a man of our
tribe came back from America. …The man had gone away from our village a poor boy.
Now he returned with unlimited wealth, which he had obtained in the country of the
American wizards. After many amazing adventures he had become a merchant in a city
called Mott Street, so it was said.
…The wealth of this man filled my mind with the idea that I, too, would like to go to the
country of the wizards and gain some of their wealth, and after a long time my father
consented, and gave me his blessing, and my mother took leave of me with tears, while
my grandfather laid his hand upon my head and told me to remember and live up to the
admonitions of the Sages, to avoid gambling, bad women and men of evil minds, and so
to govern my conduct that when I died my ancestors might rejoice to welcome me as a
guest on high.
…When I got to San Francisco, which was before the passage of the Exclusion Act (in
1882, the Chinese were excluded from entering the United States), I was half starved,
because I was afraid to eat the provisions of the barbarians, but a few days’ living in the
Chinese quarter made me happy again. A man got me work as a house servant in an
American family, and my start was the same as that of almost all the Chinese in this
The Chinese laundryman does not learn his trade in China; there are no laundries in
China. The women there do the washing in tubs and have no washboards or flat irons.
All the Chinese laundrymen here were taught in the first place by American women just
as I was taught.
When I went to work for that American family I could not speak a word of English, and I
did not know anything about housework. The family consisted of husband, wife and two
children. They were very good to me and paid me $3.50 a week, of which I could save
It was twenty years ago when I came to this country, and I worked for two years as a
servant, getting at the last $35 a month. I sent money home to comfort my parents, but
tho(ugh) I dressed well and lived well and had pleasure, going quite often to the
Chinese theater and to dinner parties in Chinatown… So I had $410 at the end of two
years, and I was now ready to start in business.
When I first opened a laundry it was in company with a partner, who had been in the
business for some years. We went to a town about 500 miles inland, where a railroad
was building. We got a board shanty and worked for the men employed by the railroads.
…We had to put up with many insults and some frauds, as men would come in and
claim parcels that did not belong to them, saying they had lost their tickets, and would
fight if they did not get what they asked for.
…We were three years with the railroad, and then went to the mines, where we made
plenty of money in gold dust, but had a hard time, for many of the miners were wild men
who carried revolvers and after drinking would come into our place to shoot and steal
shirts, for which we had to pay… Luckily most of our money was in the hands of
Chinese bankers in San Francisco.
During his holidays the Chinaman gets a good deal of fun out of life. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good
deal of gambling and some opium smoking, but not so much as Americans imagine…
Accounts from Angel Island
At age 9, Beck H. Gee immigrated in 1931 with an older relative to the United States.
Gee was detained about a month at Angel Island. His relative was already a U.S. citizen
and was not detained. Gee eventually joined his grandparents in New Orleans. He
moved to Houston as an adult. Now 76, he is a retired illustrator.
“I actually had a really good time at Angel Island, maybe because I was too young to
understand the hardship… I made friends at the playground. The swing was broken but
somebody had tried to replace it by tying a knot in a rope so we could slip our feet into
the loophole and swing anyway… The inspectors’ questions took me away from
playtime. I was kind of mad at them for that.”
Few Chinese women immigrated to the United States in the first half of this century
because of the hardships on the Chinese immigant laborers and because of the
Chinese tradition of giving boys first opportunities for better lives in this country.
But at age 7, Helen Wong Hom immigrated in 1928 with her mother and brother to the
United States. She is unsure how long they were detained at Angel Island. They later
reunited with her merchant father in San Francisco and eventually settled in San
Antonio. They later moved to Houston. Now 76, she is a retired grocer and homemaker
“The inspectors undressed me because they couldn’t believe I was a girl. They thought I
was a boy. Mommy didn’t like that at all. Chinese are very modest about their bodies,
you know… I don’t remember much because I was so young. I was not interrogated
because I was young. Mommy and I were together. As long as I was with Mommy, it
was like everything was okay… I got enough to eat because I don’t remember being
hungry. Mommy worried about us getting out. Sometimes she couldn’t eat because she
was so worried. She would entertain me with games like pat-a-cake… Mommy was
strong for my sake.”
At age 16, Lester Tom Lee immigrated in 1935 by himself to the United States. He was
detained at least 2 months at Angel Island. He joined his father in San Francisco and
eventually moved to Houston, where he worked as a grocer, a wholesale meat vendor
and in real estate. Now 79, Lee is retired.
“We ate vegetables twice a day and some very rough rice, very hard to swallow. I was a
growing boy and hungry… There were birds outside the wire fence. My hands were
small enough I could grab their necks and kill them. We used rice to attract the birds to
us. We cleaned the birds in a toilet. Another boy had gotten some matches, somehow.
Someone else had a knife. We gathered branches and we got newspaper and rolled it
like wood to make a fire. We barbecued birds that way, when the guards weren’t
around. It was the only tasty thing we could get.”
“The main reason I was detained so long was that my father and I gave the inspectors
different dates about when I departed China. The Chinese lunar calendar is about a
month off from the American calendar! Ay! So my father hired a lawyer to get me out.
Sometimes I cried because I missed my family and my friends.”
“Two men killed themselves, hung themselves. I went to the bathroom one morning and
they were there. Maybe it was with a bedsheet. I screamed. I ran back to the barrack.
They were probably about to be deported. I think one was about 30 years old, the other
one 40… Sometimes I wondered why we all came over here for that kind of treatment.
Sometimes I just wanted to go home because they treated us like criminals. We were
At age 17, Henry S.H. Gee immigrated in 1940 with a cousin to the United States. He
was detained for more than a month at Angel Island. He and his father, who was waiting
in San Francisco, went to Mississippi but later moved to Houston to join other relatives.
“My cousin and I had spent at least a year practicing for the interrogation even before
we left for America. My father had written a book of questions and answers for me.
There were diagrams of our village, our house. It even had a drawing of my uncle’s
hand and description of his moles and marks… We studied about an hour a day. We
studied on the ship (across the Pacific Ocean) and we kept studying once we got to
Angel Island, too. I was nervous… The questions were tough. Not just how many
people were in my family, but where do they sleep? What picture is hanging on which
room of the house?… I met an older man in the barrack, he was in his 30s or 40s. He
seemed well- educated and articulate but he had gotten stuck at Angel Island because
he didn’t have the right papers. We called him “Number One” because he knew the
guards really well… All of us — all we wanted was to stay in this country.”
After returning from World War II naval service in 1946, Gee ran into “Number One” on
a San Francisco street. The man had been detained at least four years and was finally
released when war broke out. Now 74, Gee is a retired engineering supervisor in
Pablo Mares, a miner
In my youth I worked as a house servant, but as I grew older I wanted to be
independent. I was able through great efforts to start a little store in my town. But I had
to come to the United States, because it was impossible to live down there with so
many revolutions. Once even I was at the point of being killed by some revolutionistsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
(A)bout 1915Ã¢â‚¬Â¦I wentÃ¢â‚¬Â¦to Ciudad Juarez and from there to El Paso. There I put
myself under contract to go to work on the tracks. I stayed in that work in various
camps until I reached California. I was for a while in Los Angeles working in cement
work, which is very hard. From there I went to Kansas, and I was also in Oklahoma and
in Texas, always working on the railroads. But the climate in those states didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree
with me, so I beat it for Arizona. Some friends told me that I could find a good job here
in MiamiÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Here in the Miami mine I learned to work the drills and all the mining
machinery and I know how to do everything. The work is very heavy, but what is good
is that one lives in peace. There is no trouble with revolutions nor difficulties of any
kind. Here one is treated according to the way in which one behaves himself and one
earns more than in Mexico. I have gone back to Mexico twice. Once I went as far as
Chihuahua and another time to Torreon, but I have come back, for in addition to the fact
that work is very scarce there, the wages are too low. One can hardly earn enough to
eat. It is true that here is almost the same, but there are more comforts of life here.
One can buy many things cheaper and in payments. I think that as long as we have so
many wars, killing each other, we will not progress and we shall always be poor. That is
what these bolillos (nickname given to the Americans by the Mexicans) want. It is here
that the revolutions are made. It is over there that the fools kill each other. It is better
for the bolillos that we do that, for they want to wipe us out in order to make themselves
masters of all that we possess. It is a shame that we live the way we do and if we go
we shall never do anything. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care about political mattersÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I live from my work and
nothing else. If I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work I know that I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t eat and if I work I am sure at least that I
will eat. So that why should we poor people get mixed up in politics. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do us
any good. Let those who have offices, who get something out of it, get into it. But he
who has to work hard, let him live from his work alone. It is not, as I have already told
you, that I like it more here. No one is better off here than in his own country. But to
those of us who work, it is better to live here until the revolutions end. When everything
is peaceful and one can work as one likes, then it will be better to go back there to see if
one can do anythingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
A Bintel Brief, Abraham Cahan, editor
We are a small family who recently came to the “Golden Land.” My husband, my
boy and I are together, and our daughter lives in another city. I had opened a grocery
store here, but soon lost all my money. In Europe we were in business; we had people
working for us and paid them well. In short, there we made a good living but here we
are badly off.
My husband became a peddler. The “pleasure” of knocking on doors and ringing
bells cannot be known by anyone but a peddler. If anybody does buy anything “on
time,” a lot of the money is lost, because there are some people who never intend to
pay. In addition, my husband has trouble because he has a beard, and because of the
beard he gets beaten up by the hoodlumsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
I don’t know what to do. My husband argues that he doesn’t want to continue
peddling. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to shave off his beard, and it’s not fitting for such a man to
do so… What can I do? I beg you for a suggestion.
Your Constant reader, F. L.
Since her husband doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t earn a living anyway, it would be advisable for all three of
them (the couple plus the son) to move to the city where the daughter is living. As for
the beard, we feel that if the man is religious and the beard is dear to him because the
Jewish law does not allow him to shave it off, it’s up to him to decide. But if he is not
religious, and the beard interferes with his earnings, it should be sacrificed.
I was born in America and my parents gave me a good education. I studied
Yiddish and Hebrew, finished high school, completed a course in bookkeeping and got
a good job. I have many friends, and several boys have already proposed to me.
Recently I went to visit my parents’ home in Russian Poland. My mother’s family
in Europe had invited my parents to a wedding, but instead of going themselves, they
sent me. I stayed at my grandmother’s with an aunt and uncle and had a good time. Our
European family, like my parents, are quite well off and they treated me well. They
indulged me in everything and I stayed with them six months.
It was lively in the town. There were many organizations and clubs and they all
accepted me warmly, looked up to me-after all, I was a citizen of the free land, America.
Among the social leaders of the community was an intelligent young man, a friend of my
uncle’s, who took me to various gatherings and affairs.
He was very attentive, and after a short while he declared his love for me in a
long letter. I had noticed that he was not indifferent to me, and I liked him as well. I
looked up to him and respected him, as did all the townsfolk. My family became aware
of it, and when they spoke to me about him, I could see they thought it was a good
He was handsome, clever, educated, a good talker and charmed me, but I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
give him a definite answer. As my love for him grew, however, I wrote to my parents
about him, and then we became officially engaged.
A few months later we both went to my parents in the States and they received
him like their own son. My bridegroom immediately began to learn English and tried to
adjust to the new life. Yet when I introduced him to my friends they looked at him with
disappointment. “This ‘greenhorn’ is your fiance?” they asked. I told them what a big
role he played in his town, how everyone respected him, but they looked at me as if I
were crazy and scoffed at my words.
At first I thought, Let them laugh, when they get better acquainted with him theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll
talk differently. In time, though, I was affected by their talk and began to think, like
them, that he really was a “greenhorn” and acted like one.
In short, my love for him is cooling off gradually. I’m suffering terribly because
my feelings for him are changing. In Europe, where everyone admired him and all the
girls envied me, he looked different. But, here, I see before me another person.
I haven’t the courage to tell him, and I can’t even talk about it to my parents. He
still loves with all his heart, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to do. I choke it all up inside myself,
and I beg you to help me with advice in my desperate situation.
Respectfully, A Worried Reader
The writer would make a grave mistake if she were to separate from her bridegroom
now. She must not lose her common sense or be influenced by the foolish opinions of
her friends who divide the world into “greenhorns” and real Americans.
We can assure the writer that her bridegroom will learn English quickly. He will know
American history and literature as well as her friends do, and be a better American than
they. She should be proud of his love and laugh at those who call him “greenhorn.”
Since I do not want my conscience to bother me, I ask you to decide whether a
married woman has the right to go to school two evenings a week. My husband thinks I
have no right to do this.
I admit I cannot be satisfied to be just a wife and. mother. I am still young and I
want to learn and enjoy life. My children and my house are not neglected, but I go to
evening high school twice a week. My husband is not pleased and when I come home
at night and ring the bell, he lets me stand outside a long time intentionally, and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
hurry to open the door.
Now he has announced a new decision. Because I send out the laundry to be
done, it seems to him that I have too much time for myself, even enough to go to
school. So from now on he will count out every penny for anything I have to buy for the
house, so I will not be able to send out the laundry any more. And when I have to do
the work myself there wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be any time left for such “foolishness” as going to school. I
told him that I am willing to do my own washing but that I would still be able to find time
When I am alone with my thoughts, I feel I may not be right. Perhaps I should not
go to school. I want to say that my husband is an intelligent man and he wanted to
marry a woman who was educated. The fact that he is intelligent makes me more
annoyed with him. He is in favor of the emancipation of women, yet in real life he acts
contrary to his beliefs.
Awaiting your opinion on this, I remain,
Your reader, The Discontented Wife
Since this man is intelligent and an adherent of the women’s emancipation movement,
he is scolded severely in the answer for wanting to keep his wife so enslaved. Also the
opinion is expressed that the wife absolutely has the right to go school two evenings a
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Biography of a BootblackÃ¢â‚¬Â by Rocco Corresca
When I was a very small boy I lived in Italy in a large house with many other
small boys, who were all dressed alike and were taken care of by some nuns. It was a
good place, situated on the side of the mountain, where grapes were growing and
melons and oranges and plums.
They taught us our letters and how to pray and say the catechism, and we
worked in the fields during the middle of the day. We always had enough to eat and
good beds to sleep in a night, and sometimes there were feast days, when we marched
about wearing flowers.
Those were good times and they lasted till I was nearly eight years of age. Then
an old man came and said he was my grandfather. He showed some papers and cried
over me and said that the money had come at last and now he could take me to his
beautiful homeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦He kept talking about his beautiful house, but when we got there it was
a dark cellar that he lived in and I did not like it at allÃ¢â‚¬Â¦There were four other boys in the
cellar and the old man said they were all my brothers. All were larger than I and they
beat me at first till one day (one of the boys) FranciscoÃ¢â‚¬Â¦drew a knife and gave (Paulo,
the largest of all) a cut.
Each morning we boys all went out to begÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Then the old man said to me: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you
donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be a thief you can be a cripple. That is an easy life and they make a great
deal of money.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I was frightened then, and that night I heard him talking to one of the men that
came to see him. He asked how much he would charge to make me a good cripple like
those that crawl about the church. They had a dispute, but at last they agreed and the
man said that I should be made so that people would shudder and give me plenty of
I was much frightened, but I did not make a sound and in the morning I went out
to beg with Francisco. I said to him: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am going to run away. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe Ã¢â‚¬ËœTony is
my grandfatherÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be a cripple, no matter how much money the
people may give.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
So we ran away out of the city and begged from the country people as we went
along. We came to a village down by the sea and a long way from Naples and there we
found some fishermen and they took us aboard their boat. We were with them five
years, and tho it was a very hard life we liked it well because there was always plenty to
We grew large and strong with the fisherman and he told us that we were getting
too big for him, that he could not afford to pay us the money that we were worth. He
was a fine, honest man Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one in a thousand.
Now and then I had heard things about America Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that it was a far off country
where everybody was rich and that Italians went there and made plenty of money, so
that they could return to Italy and live in pleasure ever after. One day I met a young
man who pulled out a handful of gold and told me he had made that in America in a few
The young man took us to a big ship and got us work away down where the fires
areÃ¢â‚¬Â¦(They sailed across the Atlantic.)
We were all landed on an island and the bosses there said that Francisco and I
must go back because we had not enough money, but a man named Bartolo came up
and told them that we were brothers and he was our uncle and would take care of us.
He brought two other men who swore that they knew us in Italy and that Bartolo was our
uncle. I had never seen any of them before, but even then Bartolo might be my uncle,
so I did not say anything. The bosses of the island let us go out with Bartolo after he
had made the oath.
We came to Brooklyn to a wooden house in Adams Street that was full of Italians
from Naples. Bartolo had a room on the third floor and there were fifteen men in the
room, all boarding with BartoloÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
The next morning, early, Bartolo told us to go out and pick rags and get bottles.
He gave us bags and hooks and showed us the ash barrels. On the streets where the
fine houses are the people are very careless and put out good things, like mattresses
and umbrellas, clothes, hats and boots. We brought all these to Bartolo and he made
them new again and sold them on the sidewalk; but mostly we brought rags and
Bartolo was always saying that the rent of the room was so high that he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
make anything, but he was really making plenty. He was what they call a padrone and
is now a very rich man. The men that were living with him had just come to the country
and could not speak English. They had all been sent by the young man we met in Italy.
Bartolo told us all that we must work for him and that if we did not the police would
come and put us in prisonÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
We were with Bartolo nearly a year, but some of our countrymen who had been
in the place a long time said that Bartolo had no right to us and we could get work for a
dollar and a half a day, which, when you make it lire (the Italian currency) is very much.
So we went away one day to Newark and got work on the street. Bartolo came after us
and made a great noise, but the boss said that if he did not go away soon the police
would have him. Then he went, saying that there was no justice in this countryÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
When the Newark boss told us that there was no more work Francisco and I
talked about what we would do and we went back to Brooklyn to a saloon near Hamilton
Ferry, where we got a job cleaning it out and slept in a little room upstairs. There was a
bootblack named Michael on the corner and when I had time I helped him and learned
(They now have two shoe shine parlors.) I am nineteen years of age now and
have $700 saved. Francisco is twenty-one and has about $900. We shall open some
more parlors soon. I know an Italian who was a bootblack ten years ago and now
bosses bootblacks all over the city, who has so much money that if it was turned into
gold it would weigh() more than himselfÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Our Immigrants at Ellis Island “An Exercise Prepared for the Young People
and Descriptive of the Reception, Inspection, and Experiences of our Immigrants
in the Detention-Room and Railway Offices” by Mrs. Francis E. Clark, United Society
of Christian Endeavor, 1912
An Irishman Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Patrick O’Flaherty.
He is a little deaf and does not answer when spoken to. They think he does not
understand English, and therefore try different languages. He answers the questions in
some such manner as the following:
Quel nom avez-vous?
Patrick (with hand to his ear).
Insp. Comment t’appelle toi?
Insp. Wie heisst du?
Insp. (slowly, in a loud tone).
Was ist Ihre Name?
Insp. Come vi chiamate?
Pat. (shakes his head doubtfully).
Insp. (to himself). For goodness’ sake what language does he speak? I’ll try French
again. (He speaks in a very loud voice.) Quel nom avez-vous?
Pat. For the love of hivven is there none of yez here speak English?
Insp. Do you speak English? For goodness’ sake, why didn’t you say so?
Pat. Sure I do bees a little deaf, and I didn’t know whatever ye was drivin’ at wid all
that foreign lingo.
Insp. Well, then, wake up! What’s your name?
Pat. Jist Patrick O’Flaherty, yer honor.
Insp. How old are you?
Pat. Jist Patrick O’Flaherty, yer honor.
Insp. How old are you?
Pat. Sure I doesn’t be exactly knowing. I guess I might be forty, perhaps. Annyway,
I’m old enough to work.
Insp. Where did you come from?
Pat. Why, from ould Oirland! Phwat did yez think?
Insp. Don’t try to be funny. Just answer the questions.
Pat. Sure, that wasn’t funny. I did come from ould Oirland! I did, so.
Insp. Who paid your passage?
Pat. Faith, it was jist me boy Mike paid it; he do be working in Boston, an it’s the fine
job he has.
Insp. Where are you going?
Pat. Why, to Boston, of course, wid Mike. Where did yez think?
Insp. Have you a ticket?
Pat. (hunting in all his pockets, and finally producing it). Yis!
Insp. What’s your business?
Pat. O, anny kind of a job’ll do for me; Mike says he’ll soon find me one, I’m that
strong. He says the work is very easy in this country; I’ll only have to carry the bricks up
to the top of a tin-story house, an’ the man at the top does all the work.
Insp. How much money have you?
Pat. (taking pieces of money from various pockets, and counting it out laboriously).
Jist three shillings, tuppence, ha’-penny, yer honor. How much have you got?
Insp. Just answer the questions, and be quiet, please. Can you read and write?
Pat. Faith, an’ how can I answer the questions an’ be quiet too? Well, you see, yer
honor, I can’t not to say exactly read; but, if you was to give me a P-a-t, I could give you
back a Pat in change; and I can make my mark, Pat O’Flaherty, his mark, you know; an’
there’s a boy from Ballymore does be writing the letters for me.
Insp. Were you ever in a prison or an almshouse?
Pat. Well, did you ever hear the likes of that? What ‘ud I be after doing in a prison or
an almshouse? I’ll bet yerself has seen more of thim places than I have. The
imperence of ye?
Insp. Are you an anarchist or polygamist?
Pat. Niver a bit of it, yer honor, though I don’t rightly know what that first one is. But
polygamist! Well, I should say not! It would take more than one man to manage Norah,
let along having six or siven of them. No, thank you! One woman’ll do for Pat
Insp. Is any one coming to meet you?
Pat. Sure, Mike!
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