Thoughts on Immigration

So many of us are second and third generation Americans whose ancestors came here in the great waves of immigration in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We’ve told ourselves a polite fiction that they came here with several things in mind:

  • They became citizens right away.
  • They learned English
  • They learned to read and write
  • They committed no crimes
  • They were welcomed as hard working

Check your history on census records

This is so easy on FamilySearch and similar services.  Here’s what I learned:

The Italians

  • Several of my Italian ancestors never became citizens.
  • The women, who were mostly tasked with raising children, never learned English
  • A whole branch, as my mother embarrassingly told me, stole from their relatives who didn’t go to the authorities for fear of deportation
  • They arrived between 1910 and 1914
      • By 1940 the purchased their first homes after years of apartments
      • By 1950 many were middle management training top management, but could advance no further because they had only high school at best educations. Again..THEY TRAINED the managers. No accommodation for life experience.
      • By 1960’s their children graduate from college


The Irish

    • Arrived between 1860 and 1880
    • None could read or write
    • Only one of these eventually learned to read or write. It took him twenty years to do this.


  • One died of tuberculosis leaving an illiterate widow and 5 children under 6
    • Within two years the illiterate widow died of alcoholic neurois orphaning her children
    • The children were raised in an orphanage. At 18 the girls left and each married a man significantly older. The boys all joined the armed forces.
    • In the 1930’s one of these boys was widowed and sent his kids to the same orphanage
    •  No family member stepped up to take in a single child
  • Another branch worked various low wage jobs moving every few years
    • The supplemented their income by making illegal alcohol and transporting it during prohibition
  • By the 1960’s over 100 years after they first arrived, there was a college graduate.

All were devout Catholics

Catholics were seen as ignorant, idol worshiping lowlifes.


The reality is that all of our history’s are marred. No one was perfect, but we made it to success because of the immigrants who dreamed. They fled lands of no opportunity where their children would face death or worse. Today’s immigrants are no different in their desire or the bigotry they face.

Why Hello Fresh Changed Our Lives

Pre-January 2017 we ordered in probably three times a week, and we were stuck in a rut cooking the other days.

Then we discovered Hello Fresh!

What they do: They deliver a box of fresh ingredients to you each week. They have vegetarian and carnivore plans. You then cook based on their easy to follow instructions.

Why we got it: It was too easy and expensive to order in. This is real food, with real portion control that lets you stay within what I’d call run-of-the-mill ingredients. In other words you can replicate 90% of recipes easily. the only exception are some Asian recipes that getting the fresh noodles (not dried) is a challenge.

The dud factor: over the past year there have only been three recipes that were total duds. Some obviously we liked better than others. In fact, I’m often amazed that what I think I won’t like, I do. (I’ve never been a pork lion fan and I like all their pork loin recipes. I also seriously dislike sweet potatoes, and I like about half of their sweet potato items, the other half I can deal with)

Leftovers: About 1/3 of the recipes we end up with a lunch portion left over.

Calories: run between 500 and 800 for dinner. This isn’t bad. You can also eliminate certain calorie items like breads, sour cream if you so desire to lighten the calorie load. For example, I choose not to make creamed spinach and I leave buns off burgers.

Te results: a year later we love it. We upped our daily meals to four a week from three. We eat healthier. We’ve saved money, learned new cooking techniques, and I now feel confident cooking outside the Italian-American style I learned growing up.

Ten Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to Philly

1. Long rolls of bread are called hoagies. I refuse to call them anything but heroes.

2. Eagles fans wear their game jerseys on game day and spontaneously sing the Eagle fight song.

3. Jimmies are sprinkles. Either way, get them at BIG GAY ICE CREAM. Yum!

4. There is a speakeasy in the Franklin Mortgage and Investment.

5. People constantly run up the Art Museum steps around the clock in Rocky imitations. Many of them faceplant.

6. The Phillies and 76ers seem to end every interview with, “Thanks for being our fans. Hope we didn’t crush all your hopes and reams, but thanks for coming out and supporting us.”

7. Reading Terminal Market…nuff said.

8. Cheese steaks aren’t as good as everyone claims.

9. Federal Donuts!

10. People are really friendly.