If you work hard, success will come

I received a letter from Washington on the impeachment of President Obama. They wrote in the letter “everything is for sale in Washington.” I couldn’t agree with them more. As far as I’m concerned, this goes for both parties. I see congressmen leaving the government and becoming lobbyists. I think they have to wait for two years and then they make millions. This should not be allowed. What happened to our representatives who are in there to serve the people? What’s happened to our people? Everything is “What’s in it for me?” The greed and the hunger for power is scary. If a person wins a seat, then it’s pay back time for the people who helped them in. It’s getting to the point you can’t run for office unless you’re rich or you’re indebted to rich people. For the first time in my life, I don’t know if I’m going to vote this year. Is it just me or do you feel that way, too?

I grew up in a home by the railroad tracks. We fed all the bums during the Depression and had a heart for the poor. Our mom baked 18 loaves of bread at a time. We always had bread and eggs. We don’t see bums anymore, but maybe that time will come back.

I’m thankful I grew up in a home where we always helped others. We never made anything of it. I never knew we were poor. There was always food on the table. I never had anything to compare it to, so I never knew the difference. As long as we had potatoes, I never complained. My nickname was “potato eater.” I still love them. And we always had lots of conversation at the table. It was an educational time.

We always had music and dancing in our house. We started out with a victrola, then a radio, and finally TV. I bet a lot of young people don’t know what a victrola was. It was before radio and we had to wind it up to get music. You missed it all!

Why do I tell you these things? The old folks will remember and reminisce. The younger people need a history lesson. I tell you because I love our history. It made us who we are today. I wouldn’t change our history for all the tea in China. When I think of the courage my parents had to leave their country with five young children and come to a place where they didn’t know the language no job that took guts! Of course their ace in the hole was the John Joy family including my father’s sister, Rose, who sponsored them.

Some people criticize me when I tell this story while others tell me they love these stories I tell. That’s OK either way. But I tell them because they give me joy. I always judge a story by the distance people have come and I’m not talking about the crossing of the ocean. I’m talking about what they did with their lives. Each of them did well. I’ll give you a rundown. For those of you who enjoy going to the Beaver Club, my father got the liquor license. He borrowed $200 at the bank and put the license in my brother-in-law’s name (Charlie Jeffrey.)

The other day someone asked me where the name “Beaver Club” came from. Here’s the story. The clerk asked for the name of the club, so Charlie asked my father what kind of a club it was, and my father said, “a bevari” which means to drink, a social club. The clerk heard beaver and named it that.

My mother was everything! The best! And a great storyteller.

My sister Louise Jeffrey taught citizenship classes.

My brother Russell (Roddy) was one of the three men who started the union at the steel plant.

My sister Rose owned Ricky’s Boutique.

My brother Tony was a principal at East Islip.

My sister Jo went to Comptometer (a mechanical calculator) School and worked in the Fredonia High School and the College. She was so good with kids. A lot of them still call her “ma.”

And I write.

Two of our sisters died. The first Rose died at the age of 4. Ten days later, my mother had another baby, and they named her Rose. My sister Grace, who wrote poetry, died at the age of 19. Jo and I were born in Fredonia.

So you see we were very visible. I hope our story will be encouraging to other immigrant families.

If you work hard, success will come!