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PART VI
SETTLEMENTS AND SETTLERS

THE IMMIGRANT MOTHER

"For all eternity America is indebted to the Immigrant Mother, whether she was an Italian, Jewish, Polish, Austrian, Hungarian, German, Russian, English, Slavic, Greek, Syrian, Bulgarian, Czech, or Irish . . . Born in the old country, she usually married at a young age . . . while her husband worked in the bitter cold of winter, or in the blistering heat of summer, in ditches laying sewers . . . she worked from early morning to late at night, cooking at a coal stove, washing her clothes with a washboard, and heating the water in a big copper tub on that same coal stove. At the same time, she took care of the children, preparing breakfast, making lunches, and sending them to school . . . her children must have an education so that they may be respected and amount to something someday . . . she is the unsung heroine and pioneer of America . . . may the people of America never forget what they owe to that sweet and blessed soul, the Immigrant Mother of us all.

.................. Anonymous

 


 

142

Chapter 14
THE WOMEN WHO GAVE

Although the early immigrants began to move out into the further west and east side neighborhoods within ten years of the earliest immigration, their first associations in the new country, like the immigrants from other countries, were within their own groups. Their American contacts were the business people, landlords, and school teachers within the immediate area.

Typical of these communities was the Bolivar Road settlement. Alva Bradley owned most of the tenements in this area, and Bradley Court became known as Il Babhour, the Boat, a continuation of the exodus from the mother­land into the new country. It was crowded, hot in summer, cold in winter, and full of all the trials and tribulations that accompanied the confined experiences of the immigrant community.

A bright and aggressive young married woman, herself an early immigrant, was Bradley's superintendent for the tenements. She collected the rents and responded to the tenant's problems, serving as a liaison and interpreter between the landlord and her countrymen. Her name was Deebe Sahley, and she and her husband operated a stand in the market for years. She was a courageous woman and she became a legend at the market and among her own people. It was said that she could work longer and harder than half a dozen men, and her strong figure and big voice, calling out to customers, bargaining over prices, became the trademark of her "stand." She was a shrewd business woman, level headed and straight forward and was much sought after for advice. Throughout her life, Deebe Sahley held a position of leadership, not only in the women's circles, but among the men as well.

As the reasons for the early immigrations were much the same for all people -- refuge from oppression, a chance to prosper, a search for adventure,

 


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