Growing up my Mother told me I was Irish. My mother’s parents came to America from Ireland in 1875. Unfortunately, they died before I was born so I never met them, but I knew I was Irish on this side of the family.
It has taken years to find out where my father’s ancestors came from. He was not much of a talker, he never said much to me other than go get me “blank” or get to bed. Thinking about it now, I actually do remember one thing he did say to me. I had won an award from my school and could not wait to get home and show my parents. Mom was all excited. However, dad said, “That and a nickel will get you on the Subway”. I do not think I was sure what that meant at that time since I was so young, but knew it was not praise. Therefore, since he did not share much with me, I never asked dad questions.
I was lucky enough to know my dad’s father, who we called Pop. He was such a character, depending on the day; he had a different story for me on where he came from. One day we might be Polish, then another he was from the Ukraine, the next day, Russian, you get my drift, he was a hoot!
Pop only finish fourth grade, however he could speak four or five languages! I always loved when he would take me to one of the local delis in Brooklyn. When we would go to the Polish deli, Pop would hold an entire conversation with the owner in Polish. Same when we went to the Greek restaurant, Pop would speak Greek with the owner who was from Greece, Storos. I never found out how he learned all these different languages; I suppose he picked it up working with immigrants.
Recently one a family member joined one of those ancestry sites to find out where Pops people came from. After searching, she found Pop’s ancestors are from Austria. They also found out Pop’s wife, who died before I was born, was also from Austria. They even found the name of the ship Pop’s father came to America on.
Crazy, I would have never imagined I am Austrian. I have even more trouble believing this especially since I can’t yodel. Nevertheless, now that I know, I am working hard and practicing my yodeling, but the sad facts are; I sound more like a cat in heat than a yodeling mountain climber.