In 1923, my Austrian great-great-grandparents boarded a boat called “The Amsterdam” in Holland, which would eventually make its way to New York. They wanted to come to America to see how great it really was. When they arrived, knowing their destination was Chicago, they began to make their way toward the Midwest.
Note: In doing some research I found a website where you can find the ship and passenger boarding information about your ancestors, what year they came, where they came from and possibly a picture of the ship as it was coming to America. My name is quite common in Austria so I wasn’t able to find anything. There are many versions of my last name. It could have adapted from something else. Very cool though. You can actually get your hands on those boarding documents. I’m assuming if I spent a few hours, I may come across something.
When they arrived in Chicago, they settled in a building around North Avenue and Pulaski. This building had a store on the first floor. My great-great-grandfather was a contractor and his son (my great-grandfather) was a bricklayer but they eventually opened a live poultry store on the first floor of their building.
My grandfather and his family went to St. Philomena Parish and elementary school on Kedvale and Courtland. After elementary school, he attended Austin High School. When my great-grandfather passed away, my grandfather took over the family business.
My grandmother and her sister came from Poland with her family. They settled down near Augusta and Ashland, otherwise known as Ukrainian Village. Her father worked in a factory and her mother stayed home.
After coming back from World War II, my grandfather met my grandmother. They had four children, Larry, Marilyn, Tom (my father) and Donna. My father attended St. Philomena for elementary school and Prosser for high school. He also eventually worked at the family store.
When my parents met, they moved to an apartment on Pulaski and Milwaukee.
When my grandfather turned 42, he sold the poultry store and became an insurance man. Twenty-three years later, he retired. He and my grandmother moved to where they still live in Jefferson Park.
After a few years, my parents moved to Carbondale in Southern Illinois, where my oldest brother was born. They moved back to Chicago by Kildare and Fullerton, then to a house by Lamon and Fullerton, where my other brother and I were born. They were there for 13 years until my father got a job offer on the other side of the city. So, in 1990 we moved again to the house we live in now by Harlem and Grand.
Chicago has not only been the place where I was born and raised, but it’s where my heart and soul is. As a little kid, I wasn’t sure If I would ever leave Chicago. As an adult, I know this is where I’ll stay.