Dave Simpson: These Immigrants Loved This Land

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "Here are two families with remarkable stories of hard work, love of country, and determination to succeed. Stories like this are everywhere in a country that from its inception has been the beacon of opportunity."

Dave Simpson

May 06, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The case of Rose and Charlie is an up-from-the-bootstraps story that is inspirational.

More inspirational, however, is the fact that their story of coming to America and realizing their dream was so common. Think of your ancestors, and you'll likely find stories just as inspirational as the success of Rose and Charlie.

We're pretty sure Charlie entered the United States through New York, sometime before 1915, and made his way to Pennsylvania. He was from Czechoslovakia, and followed immigration rules, with a sponsor (Uncle John), work, and a promise not to ask for public assistance.

He enlisted in the Army, in part because it would force him to perfect his English. Stationed in Galveston, Texas, a lantern exploded and blinded him in one eye, ending his military career.

In Galveston he met Rose, also from Czechoslovakia, who grew up in a house with dirt floors. They were “peasants,” my mother said. Rose and Charlie married and settled in Indiana.

Along with Uncle John, they started a commercial laundry in the small town of Attica. Later, they added dry cleaning. They had four kids – Mary, Chuck, Helen and Bob. My mother told of folding sheets in the shop growing up. Times were tough, success not guaranteed, and the kids knew the shop had a good year if there was an orange in their Christmas stocking.

Between the business and  farm land they bought later, they did well enough to put all four kids through Purdue University.

In the war, Chuck fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was taken prisoner. Bob fought in the South Pacific. Helen was a WAC, working as a dietitian.

And Mary – my mother – married a guy who tried repeatedly to enlist, but worked as an engineer for a heavy steel fabrication company. He was told if he joined the military, they'd just send him back to his office, in a uniform. They built LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank), and top-secret equipment in Hanford, Washington. When atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, my father said, “So that's what that was all about.”

Charlie died two days before the Kennedy Assassination, in his 60s. Rose died the next spring.

Their lives were testaments to the greatness of this land of opportunity. From a house with dirt floors to a successful business, rich Indiana farm land, and the ability to put four kids through a great university. What lives they lived.

Not in any way unique, however.

Sitting right across the breakfast table, my wife has a similar story of grandparents who immigrated from Italy, and opened a bar and store in the coal mining town of  Segundo, Colorado. Later, they owned a concrete block company in Trinidad, Colorado.

Her other grandfather was a postman in Trinidad, delivering mail early on with a horse and cart. They had a son, my wife's father, who flew 66 missions in the South Pacific as a B-24 pilot, then went on to become a renowned entomologist, the acknowledged authority on green bugs, and efforts to make crops resistant to them.

That's just two families, with stories of hard work, love of country, sacrifice in war, and determination to succeed. Stories like this are everywhere in a country that from its inception has been the beacon of opportunity.

Charlie was an Indiana Republican. I'm told they don't come any more Republican than that. Frugal. Hard working. No nonsense. Most of all, appreciative of this great country.

He and Rose did it by the book, immigrating legally and becoming citizens.

It was not like millions arrive here today, crashing our borders, in need of housing, something to eat, requiring benefits our country struggles to provide those already here.

Far from being appreciative, the first act of many of today's newcomers is to break our border laws, taking advantage of the crazy political football immigration has been for decades.

The situation has degraded to the point where “Death to America” was chanted recently in Michigan, by angry, demanding people who have made their way to our country.

Death to America? The country our grandparents loved, that made possible the stunning success of their lives?

Rose and Charlie would be appalled.

Dave Simpson can be reached at: DaveSimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.