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  • My grandfather wanted more than anything else to be thought of as an American. Even though he grew up speaking Yiddish and could read Hebrew, he rarely used either of those languages in my presence. He spoke English with a perfect upper-class New York accent, although he was really a middle class guy who worked in the garment business.

    I produced this story as part of "What I Carried" a project created by Feet in 2 Worlds to explore immigration to the U.S. through objects that symbolize migration.

    This picture of my grandparents is the closest thing I have to such an object. My grandfather, Morris Kallman, was born in what is now Ukraine and came to America at the age of 5. All my other grandparents were born in the U.S., including my grandmother in the picture, Eva Cohn Kallman.

    Gramps died when I was a teenager, but I don’t recall him ever talking about his experience coming to the U.S. On the other hand, my grandmother had seemingly endless stories about her family’s odyssey from a little town in Lithuania to Chicago, where she was born and raised.
  • My grandfather grew up in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. But he raised his family on Long Island and spent his retirement years with my grandmother in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with a beautiful view of the Hudson River. His Brooklyn years, like his roots in the old country, were hard to discern. He would sometimes mention that he attended Boys High School in the same class as Emanuel Celler, who went on to become one of the longest-serving representatives in the history of the U.S. Congress. The other hint was his baseball allegiance. He must have been a Dodgers fan before the team left Brooklyn, because when I was 8 or 9 years old he and my father took me to the Polo Grounds to see a brand-new ball club, the New York Metropolitans. (I doubt he would have even considered going to a Yankees game.) I’ve been a Mets fan ever since.
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