BRINGING FAMILY VALUABLES TO AMERICA. The grandmother of a friend of mine migrated to America from the Russia/Poland border at about the time that Fiddler on the Roof is set. I met her about forty years ago. She was very tiny and quite old. Her father had emigrated some time before the rest of the family and had done well enough that now the oldest child could come over as well. She was about 14. When she was leaving, her mother strapped the family’s pots and pans to the girl’s back to bring to the new home. She traveled with a group of people who were also making the voyage to America. It was dangerous. Their group was attacked twice by Cossacks. The pots and pans were heavy and cumbersome She had to be rescued from drowning once when she slipped while crossing a river, and the pots and pans were pulling her down.

She made it. Her father was waiting for her on the dock in New York. They embraced. And then her father said, referring to the pots and pans: “But what is this? This is America.” They walked away and left the pots and pans on the dock.

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