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A glimpse of another life.

Let’s go back to the 60’s in a downtown, higher income suburbia.

Party one: An immigrant and his small family comes to the new land through Alaska as opposed to Ellis Island. They made their home in the Midwest.

Party two: a man down on his luck; he’s been long naturalized in the new world.

Immigrant to the new world breaks bread shares a home cooked meal sunday with a man down and out on his luck.

The immigrant has his own small business in the service field, a laundry business. He shares sleeping quarters way in the back (they had to exit the shop) in a little shed just big enough for two small “rooms” with a fully equipped bathroom as the separator in the middle.

The store front was not so big for the customer as maybe a 5×10 foyer (to drop off/pick up laundry), a counter and plenty of obvious space for ironing. Around and behind the foyer was maybe a 30×20 area where you could see also an old fashioned sewing machine off to the side and many cabinets with brown-paper wrapped bags of clean, pressed, folded shirts. A narrow space led to the back, also approximately the same size which was a rough lounge/living room/kitchen area for the small family. A small table for eating sat there off to the side.

He and his small family pretty much lived with the business – and business was downtown in a richer area. But it was still downtown, not a neighborhood of family homes.

The visitor is welcomed to the table one day, the immigrant taking consideration of his plight. His wife is an excellent cook. They may have shared dinner with this person more than once (usually on a sunday?), but those details elude me.

The business owner is not rich either, but he has learned to be  very very careful with his money, keeping his abacus handy (better than a new fangled calculator).

He escaped communism where just even having land of one’s own was a dangerous thing, even though it was farm land and he and his family were not rich.

One day, the beggar shows up, well dressed, with many children and a wife in tow, in front of the little laundry business. One of the family members, his teenage son who’d learned the native language in the local public school, told his business owner father who was waiting for him outside.

One of the other family members had to tell the former beggar in rough American English that the older man was not home. They left.

And that was that. No more shared meals.

 

 

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