An American in the Making: The Life Story of an Immigrant

By M. E. Ravage; Steven G. Kellman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The Gospel of New York

The very next day my father took me by the hand and marched me straight up to Great Headquarters. He had done some deep thinking all night and had apparently worked up an exceedingly clever scheme. At least I supposed it was clever until we reached our destination. I had been given only the broadest outline of it, but I gathered from that that it was essentially a plan to induce Couza to take me to America with him when he returned, details to be worked out later. When, however, we got within a block of Cousin Jacob’s store my heart sank and father turned very pale. Here was a line of similarly clever fathers with equally shamefaced sons and daughters, extending from Jacob’s store in the front, all the way around the little circular park which was in the center of the shopping district; and another shorter column in the rear, starting from the back door and ending a block away at the gate of the court-house. The total effect was of two opposing armies struggling for the capture of Jacob’s store and the great prize within. And every father and son there claimed relationship with Couza, and was ready, I suppose, to back it up with documentary evidence and a flourishing family tree. I had never realized that all of Vaslui belonged to my family.

It was just at this time that the notorious Itza Baer entered upon the scene in real earnest. To the shame of Vaslui be it confessed that he had succeeded in gathering about him a very considerable following, and, strangely enough, among men who had hitherto been held in high esteem for their integrity and shrewdness. It is at such stirring times as these that men go astray. When one or two of those whom Couza had felt obliged to discourage in their emigration plans chanced to speak of their disappointment, Itza Baer suggested that they might offer to share their first million with Couza in return for the passage across. He and his followers organized themselves into an anti-Couza committee, which made ridiculous claims of seeking to save Vaslui, and in the end they very nearly succeeded in ruining the hope of the town.

-20-

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An American in the Making: The Life Story of an Immigrant
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Chronology ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • A Note on the Text xxxiii
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • Part One - The Alien at Home 11
  • Chapter I - The Prophet from America 13
  • Chapter II - The Gospel of New York 20
  • Chapter III - The Exodus 27
  • Chapter IV - To America on Foot 31
  • Chapter V - Farewell Forever 38
  • Part Two - The Alien Abroad 45
  • Chapter VI - First Impressions 47
  • Chapter VII - The Immigrant’s America 53
  • Chapter VIII - "How Do You like America?" 58
  • Chapter IX - Ventures and Adventures 66
  • Chapter X - Purifications 78
  • Chapter XI - The Ethics of the Bar 86
  • Part Three - The Education of an American 93
  • Chapter XII - Shirts and Philosophy 95
  • Chapter XIII - The Soul of the Ghetto 104
  • Chapter XIV - The Tragedy of Readjustment 110
  • Chapter XV - The Trials of Scholarship 118
  • Chapter XVI - Off to College 126
  • Part Four - America of the Americans 133
  • Chapter XVII - In the Mold 135
  • Chapter XVIII - The American as He Is 143
  • Chapter XIX - The Fruits of Solitude 151
  • Chapter XX - Harvey 159
  • Chapter XXI - The Romance of Readjustment 168
  • Part Five - Postscript- Twenty Years Later 175
  • Chapter XXII - Jeanne’s Sentimental Pilgrimage 177
  • Chapter XXIII - And My Own 189
  • About the Editor 213
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