JR Sr.

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Happy Father’s Day to all. The photo above is of my Dad with my sister and me. This photo was taken on a Sunday. How do I know? Dad always dressed up on Sunday to go to mass. He stayed dressed for the day. During the week, he wore blue work shirts and blue work pants. Most days he looked like he worked in a coal mine. He came to America from a small town in Hungary. His half-sister Anna and her husband sponsored him. He arrived at Ellis Island at age seventeen with but a few coins in his pocket. Somehow he found his way to Burnside in Chicago. There, he stayed at a local boarding house until my Great Uncle got him a job at the Illinois Central Rail shops on 95th and Cottage grove Avenue. His job involved doing repair on the brakes of rail cars. When he reached sixty-five years he retired from the same job.

Dad was a maniac for hard work. His idea of retirement fun was to cut tall grass with a scythe on his farm in Michigan. He created a park with a baseball field for his grandkids. We spent many weekends visiting and there was always a baseball tournament going on the entire weekend.

Dad was an excellent father and a superb role model for me, my brother, and Sis.

 

Tell Me . . .

Another one of my passions is a secure border. Why in the hell we allow the travesty of letting foreigners invade our country is a mystery. Most of the time, when foreigners cross a border illegally into another country it is because they are invading as in a war. Remember when Hitler crossed into France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary? I do. He had only one intention, that was to subjugate the people of those countries to his rule. He made them slaves to his goals. Today, we face a similar invasion of foreigners into the USA. What do we do about it? Watch this video to learn just what is going on in the southern border states. Tell me you don’t feel for our fellow citizens whose rights our so-called government trample upon. Tell me our dear beloved President did the right thing by going to Mexico to apologize for all the problems they have in their country. Tell me we have trampled upon Mexico the way they trample upon us. Tell me that it is okay to use the southern border as an open door for radical muslims to secretly enter the country? Tell me it is okay to check every phone call, Facebook entry, blogging keystroke in the name of security, while leaving the back door wide open for any towel head bent on destroying America.

As I write this, I hope my keystrokes go directly to the ass hole in charge of the USA. He will burn in hell for what he is doing to America.

Happy Birthday Grampa Jim

Today marks the one hundred and thirty-fifth anniversary of the birth of one Imre (James) Wigh. I call him Grandpa. He is the character I have

chronicled in a series of childhood memories under the category of Biography-Grandpa Jim.

       I am suffering through a period of melancholy the past few weeks, and today is no different. The fact that today is his birthday has nothing to do with my dilemma, but it adds to my sadness. The man was the only grandparent I knew. The father of my mother, he came to this country from Hungary to make a better life for himself. He landed a job in a coal mine in Southern Illinois near the town of West Frankfort. While mining coal, he was seriously injured and placed on disability. He received a pension of twenty-six dollars a month for the rest of his life; he managed to survive.

Grandpa Jim lived a solitary life on his farm in Michigan. As I have related before, he spent winters in Chicago by the command of my mother. She felt he needed to live a little easier than he did on the farm. When winter passed, and the weather got a bit warmer, Grandpa Jim disappeared. He found a way back to his humble little farm-house in Covert Township.

Happy Birthday Gramps!  Where ever you are.

Hot Date With a Hungarian Fiddle Player

Coat of arms of Hungary

Image via Wikipedia

I mentioned earlier that I had never dated a Hungarian girl.  I was wrong.  I remember a Hungarian girl named Hermena.  She was beautiful and blond.  I met her during my freshman year.  She lived in Burnside, west of Cottage Grove. I first noticed her hanging around 93rd Street near Our Lady of Hungary church  Perhaps she was visiting some one. Because she was so pretty, well-developed, and shapely the boys all swarmed around her.

Hermena played the violin and had to practice daily.  Her parents were very protective of her, and didn’t want her hanging around with guys. They wanted her to become a concert violinist.  I never heard her play, but the way she talked about it she must have liked it.

One day I got up enough nerve to ask her to go to the movies with me.  She accepted on one condition, she would meet me at the show. Later, I realized she did not ask her parents and lied to them about who she was with. We went to the theater on Cottage Grove. Ave.

We met in the lobby, I bought the tickets and popcorn and we watched the movie.  At one point I put my hand on her knee and promptly had it removed.  Shortly after our date, Hermena disappeared from the neighborhood just as mysteriously as she appeared.  I sometimes wonder if she ever made it as a professional musician.

The Real Grampa Joe

The Real Grampa Joe

My dad left Hungary when he was just seventeen years old. His father told him he had to go to America because he could no longer feed him.  I admired him for the courage it took to make a move like that. He never looked back. Once he arrived in the USA it became his new home, and he adapted quickly. His sponsor was my Aunt Anna and her husband John. Uncle John worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. It was Uncle John who got dad his first and only job in America.

Dad worked as a laborer at the Burnside shops. He became an expert at repairing brakes on rail cars. During his career as a laborer, he received several awards for money-saving suggestions for how to improve the efficiency of brake beam repair.

Dad met Mom in Burnside and that is where they married. They bought a house with one of the very first Savings and Loans mortgages. They lived in that house and raised three kids there. At age seventy, Dad bought Mom her dream house in Calumet Park. He took out a loan and paid it off before he died.

Dad was a staunch Democrat. He voted the way his boss told him to vote because he didn’t want to rock the boat with his job. Dad and Mom lived as conservatives. They would have died from shame had they accepted welfare. They didn’t have much, but they knew how to make it stretch and to work for them. They made today’s Green Movement look like a bunch of wasteful polluters. There wasn’t anything Dad or Mom wouldn’t reuse or recycle into something of value.  Sometime, I’ll tell the story of being sent out to the street to collect horse manure for Mom’s garden, or  going to the railroad tracks to collect coal from the roadbed, or about raising pigeons and chickens for Sunday meals, or about using old pieces of rubber to fix worn tires.

Dad taught me moodiness, and quiet. He also taught me honesty, love, and the value of hard work. He taught me love by example. He and my mother parted only by death after sixty-four years of marriage.

Dad retired at sixty-five from the very same job he got when he arrived from Hungary. He never complained, he just kept working hard, and kept on loving us the best he knew how. He remained independent until his last week on earth. When he realized his loss of independence, he left the same way he came, alone.

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