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

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

CHAPTER IV
To America on Foot

It must have been along toward the middle of May that the intelligence reached Vaslui of the strange new turn that the emigration craze had taken; and while I am about it I shall let no amount of civic pride prevent me from recording that it was out of the neighboring and rival town of Berlad that salvation came. It was to the effect that a band of young men had formed themselves into an organization for the purpose of walking to America. I remember how incredulous we were when we first heard of it. In the first place, we had learned entirely too much about America during and since Couza’s visit to swallow any such absurd notion as that it could be reached by walking. And besides that, the report was brought to us by a woman whom Vaslui credited with neither too much truthfulness nor complete sanity. The person was a neighbor of ours, whose husband had served a term at the prison of Dobrovetz, justly or unjustly, for arson, and she had built up a trade in convict’s work in beads and leather. She used to travel about to all the fairs, and often returned with a great assortment of wild tales. We little dreamed that before many weeks we were to have a To-Americaon-Foot Society in our own town.

Yet that is precisely what happened. We had hardly had time to make up our minds as to whether there could be anything in the strange story from Berlad, when a number of the boys in our own set held a meeting and announced that they had formed a walking group right in Vaslui. I do not wish to be immodest, but historical truth demands I should confess that I had the glory of being present at that meeting and becoming one of the charter members of the organization. We assembled, about twenty-five of us in all, in Monish Bachman’s grain-shed just outside the town gate. The place was well chosen, for that shed had already become sacred in our hearts by many tender associations. It had been the scene of a long series of theatrical performances in which the present organizers had been both actors and audience. And although we were now practical men and quite done with childish things, our instincts must have guided

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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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