Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saving The History Of Our Ancestors

You all know how I feel about history. Specifically family history and the immigration experience. And not just my own family’s. Although they will always have a special place in my heart. As they will always have a special place in the history of emigration to the new world.

My family research has provided me with tons of stories but I won’t bore you with all of them. I will share just a bit.

Many in my family would travel from their homeland to make a new life somewhere else. The Irish diaspora would scatter its seeds in many places. Mostly England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. They contributed, worked hard, fought discrimination and made an absolutely indelible mark in their adopted countries.

I am here today because my Granny came to work in New York City in the late 1920s. As luck would have it my Granda was also working in Manhattan. They were married at St. Ignatius Catholic Church (Park Ave & 84th) and were blessed with four children. Then they returned to Ireland where they would welcome three more children. It wouldn’t be until my Dad came back to the States and met my mom in the 1960s that would seal the deal for me. And my siblings.

My maternal grandparents were also immigrants. They also both came to America to work. Met, married and raised their family here.

I am sharing so you understand that my family worked, loved, worshipped, and my siblings.

My maternal grandparents were also immigrants. They also both came to America to work. Met, married and raised their family here.

I am sharing so you understand that my family worked, loved, worshipped, and created families in this wonderful country of ours. Just like many other immigrant populations. Cities and towns all across America are filled with neighborhoods that bear testament to this.

But a lot of it begins in New York City. For so many families from all around the world.

A month ago I received an email with a petition attached. The fellows that started it had hopes of preserving three buildings in Lower Manhattan that were once part of a neighborhood called “Little Syria.” One of the goals is to have these Washington Street buildings designated as landmarks.

I immediately fell in love with the project! One of the buildings was a church that also housed an Irish pub for many years. Another a community center. And a tenement. I scanned the old census reports. Living on this street were Irish, Italians, German, Austrians, and others.
But mostly this street was home to Syrians, Lebanese and Turks. They were cobblers, peddlers and bakers. Hardworking folks just trying to make a life in an unfamiliar new place. I could smell the baking. And hear the Arabic language. In my mind I envision how it was back then.

It was also a place of literary importance. The place where the first Arab American author, Ameen Rihani lived. And where Khalil Gibran lived for a while and where he died.

Due to massive construction the inhabitants all moved away. Most headed to Brooklyn. And other places. But they were there. These buildings are their footprint. Their indelible mark. The place is teeming with their rich history. But if these buildings are demolished or not preserved then there will be nothing left. No reminder of this.

If any of this strikes a chord with you then do me a favor and sign this petition. Then pass it along. Wherever you live. Whatever country. Because maybe you left your country. Or maybe someone in your family left home. Maybe your people even came through New York. Once upon a time.

Everyone has their place in the history of this country.Here is the link for the petition
http://savewashingtonstreet.org/


Thankyou to our guest writer Mary

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