It’s hard at times I’m sure to see the juxtaposition of a man who spends his days wielding a hammer and shingles, to the music of Tchaikovsky emanating from a handcrafted violin at the end of the day, and maybe in those regards, I am an entirely different kind of person. But to really get into the heart of the matter, we should probably start at the start, and end up at the intro line to provide a little more context. Perhaps there are those out there who have the same kind of story as I did, or perhaps I am alone in my world, but no matter how it turns out, I feel that it’s a story that deserves to be shared after all it had to endure to survive.
This tale begins long before I was born, in Riga, Latvia. My grandfather was a scared 13 year old boy living in the beginning stages of what would be the Nazi occupation, but one more in a long line of takeovers in the region dating back to my ancestors. I didn’t get to learn much about life in that time, or glean too many details about what the country was like at the start of the war, mostly because my Grandfather refused to talk about it, right up until his death about half a decade back. But eventually I heard stories of escaping on boats across the Baltic as planes were steadily trying to bomb them out of the water, so I guess I can see why he decided not to get too much into it.
My Grandfather and Great-Grandparents, like many immigrants at the time, wound up landing on Ellis island, and going through the process of trying to get into the US to start a new life. My Great-Grandfather came from some form of police service, and my Great-Grandmother was a seamstress. Somehow, they got fairly quick passage into the country, and quickly took to starting a new life in this new land. My Great-Grandfather wound up working in some position in the NYPD, and my Great-Grandmother worked in a shop making uniforms for soldiers overseas.
My Grandfather though, took a different route. After being sponsored by a family deeper in the country, he settled in Oklahoma and proceeded to go to school with his brother. That venture didn’t last long, and with having no schooling, barely speaking English, and no discernable skills, he wound up needing to look for work in what he could do. At this time, it meant mostly general labour, and he got his first job working for a construction company sanding gyprock. It wasn’t a glorious living, but he made enough money to get by, and learned some skills along the way, one of them being how to speak proper English. Though he still got ribbed by co-workers for his Latvian accent, his sense of humor quickly won him over with some friends, and he was a hard worker, which mattered most.