Grandparents came to USA seeking better life

Published 9:25 pm Sunday, September 5, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

My grandparents on my mother’s side of the family immigrated from Poland in the late 1800s. They established their roots in southern Minnesota. My grandfather shoveled coal for the railroad. My grandmother received her naturalization papers in 1945.

I do not know why it took so long for her to receive her papers. She was 65 years old. Possibly it was because she could not speak English. I also do not know why she never learned the language.

Julie Seedorf

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However, to these two people were born children who became a cabinet maker, a carpenter, a locksmith, a farmer, a teacher, an airplane builder and with their hard work also became business owners.

The grandchildren of these two people became an accountant, a pediatrician, a cardiologist, two administrative assistants and a computer technician.

Their great-grandchildren continue the chain building careers in the food business, the entertainment industry, the tax industry, mechanic, military service, ministry, forestry and the list can go on.

All of this from two people who came to this country in the 1800s looking for a better life, without much money and willing to work hard to achieve this better life.

It is Labor Day.

Labor Day is a day set aside to pay tribute to the working men and women of our country. I wonder what my grandparents would say if they could see the opportunities and the different careers that did not exist when they made their journey to this country.

Looking at the different careers of just one side of my family fills me with awe. It would be fun to do a family tree of both sides of the family documenting the different careers that exist in my family tree.

I do not think when my ancestors came to America they imagined all the opportunities that they put forth for their future family because they came to America to seek a better life.

With that life came a life of hard work to provide a future for their children. Essentially that is part of the foundation of our country. That foundation is men and women working hard to change their lives and the future life of their families.

I do not imagine that the dreams of my grandfather, the railroad worker that shoveled coal to support his family, ever included that his family would consist of a doctor or an accountant. His dream was to be free and live in a country where there was freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

America is not just a melting pot of nationalities; it is a melting pot for many different jobs and opportunities for the worker.

Take some time this Labor Day to remember the many different jobs and careers that have shaped your family from your ancestors to those that will come after you. Imagine the many different opportunities that the future might hold in jobs that we cannot even imagine existing.

My grandparents in the early 1900s would never have imagined astronauts or computer programmers. They would not have imagined television producers or machines that milk the cows for you. But they would have imagined that any job would be hard work and one that is worth doing if it supported their family.

If you are laboring on this Labor Day or if you are having a final fun weekend before fall, take a moment and remember the past American workers that made this day happen.

“Without labor, nothing prospers.” — Sophocles

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”