Friday, July 9, 2010

Light & Shadows: Excerpt IV

Chapter 4: Arnold and his family (without his mother, Nelly, who died prematurely in 1939) emigrate to the United States, settling in Baltimore, where they begin their life anew.

The extended Fleischmann family in Baltimore, c. 1940.
Arnold is in the front row on the left, sitting on his father, Ludwig’s, lap.

On March 4, we spotted land. Soon the outline of the Statue of Liberty came into view, and the passengers crowded to the side of the ship for a better look. I did not know much about the Statue of Liberty at that point, but I did know that it was a symbol of American freedom and, despite my regret about all I had left behind and my apprehension about what lay ahead, I was eager to start over in a new country.

We headed to Baltimore, where our relatives lived. After only a few weeks, it was time for me to start school. I was enrolled in the eighth grade at PS 49/69, which was some distance down Park Avenue from our apartment. Although people were kind and patient, many things remained confusing to me. At one point, my new friends were having a conversation about dates, and I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about. I pulled out my English/German dictionary and looked up the word, but when I discovered that the translation of date was dattel—a small piece of fruit—I only became more puzzled. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my friends were talking about fruit with such enthusiasm! A great many words and phrases didn’t make sense to me because they were American slang, and I could not find them in my dictionary.

No comments: