Justin’s Family Immigration from France
April 22nd, 2014 by Justin Chopin
All things considered, my family has not lived in the United States very long. My great grandfather immigrated to this country through New York around the turn of the century. He came from Pau, France, which is the northern edge of the Pyrenees, near Spain and the Atlantic. He was a young peasant working on a farm. He came to this country, not knowing how to speak a word of English, not knowing math, and with no money. He was indentured to work for his uncle in New Orleans at his dairy farm.
My great grand father (or “Papa” as he was known in my family) often explained that he learned his numbers by reading the street car numbers and signs in New Orleans. He spoke French and a Patois until the day he died in 1977. And, like any good Frenchman, he married a French woman, spoke only French in his home, made his own wine, and slaughtered his own pigs. However, the better story about Papa was his humble origin.
After years of working for his uncle, he saved some money and asked his uncle if he could buy a cow. His uncle’s generous response set into motion a series of events that undoubtedly shaped even my life. He said that Papa could buy a cow, and for any milk produced by his cow, he could keep all of the proceeds. Eventually, Papa owned his own dairy farm that he eventually sold when he retired—in his early to mid thirties!
Papa was not, by any means, an educated man; but, he was self made and very wise. He demanded that his daughter go to college in the 1930’s. He never put a penny in the bank (which during the great depression turned out to be a very wise, if not lucky, decision); and he believed that when someone invested they did so with family and land.
Some may say that he lived the “American Dream.” The saying seems trite and understated–like, saying Mozart played the piano. He came to this country from a small rural area in France with absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back and left a successful businessman and rich in family.
At Arguello, Hope, and Associates, we appreciate and support those individuals who want to come to this country as our forefathers did. After all, your story is the same as ours. If you or a loved on is having an immigration issue, call our office today. We might be able to help you.
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