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Joe’s stories – old, new, mostly true
One more immigrant sponsored
About the time that Cousin Kurt came with Ruth, another cousin, Joe’s nephew, Adolph, expressed his interest in immigrating. He had completed his training in the masonry trade, so it was likely he would find employment here. The necessary papers were filed for his sponsorship and travel arrangements made for his arrival in March of 1957. The usual upstairs room, vacant for a year or so, was to be occupied again.
Adolph was able to work immediately with R. Brown Masonry Contractors where I was working at the time. Despite being the same trade he discovered that tools, materials and practices were somewhat different here. He also discovered that wages were much better if he joined the mason’s union, and he was more likely to do brick work, which he preferred. In the winter when work slowed here, he went back home to work on the two family house he had started building with intentions of settling there.
I benefited directly from his coming, because he was able to bring with him a new Hohner accordion I had sent him the money to purchase. It is still one of the best instruments available, providing you like accordion music. In return I spent time teaching him to drive, assisting with his tests for licensing and selecting a car he bought.
After a few years the house in Germany was complete and rented out because Adolph decided to stay here and became a citizen in 1963. He continued working in the mason’s union, but also did occasional side jobs when time permitted. One of them in 1966-68 was a lengthy freebee – helping me build our house. He and I did most of the work on the foundation and later the brickwork, with free beer, food, camaraderie and satisfaction as compensation.
At some point Adolph rented a room in a house on Driving Park Avenue, and when the place was for sale he bought it. Not being familiar with our banking/mortgage system he asked his Uncle Joe for a loan, which Joe agreed to but only after he checked the house out. Interest and loan payments were agreed upon and Adolph paid it all back. Adolph and a young lady he met were in what looked like a permanent relationship but it wasn’t to be. He subsequently sold the house on Driving Park Avenue.
In the late 1960s he met Betty, a teacher in Albion schools. They married in 1971 and Adolph considered being a trade school teacher. A masonry teacher was needed in the Oneida/Madison BOCES at Verona, NY. He took the job which also required that while teaching he attend college classes at SUNY Oswego. After two years he realized that teaching was not where he belonged, and that commuting wasn’t good for them.
For a while he also worked for VanValkenburg Builders and then heard of an opening in the Facilities Maintenance group at SUNY Brockport. He applied, was hired and retired after 20 years. “The best move I ever made” he said.
In 1972, he and Betty purchased an 80 acre farm with a brick colonial home on Ridge Road in the town of Albion. Adolph immediately set about planting a small orchard of various fruit trees and berries similar to what his family had in Germany. He also acquired his own bee hives to help pollination and produce honey. Most of the products were sold at their roadside stand, or taken to market.
Their marriage was blessed with a son they named Joseph who graduated from RIT with a master’s in mechanical engineering. They also, over several years, cared for six permanent foster children and several children placed on a temporary basis. In 1992 they adopted Alexandra, a 4 year old Russian orphan, who was the subject of articles in Westside News Inc. articles printed in 2011.
Always spiritual and very faithful to the Catholic Church, Adolph has found his retirement years to be a way to increase his activities by serving in several capacities in his parish of Holy Family (St. Joseph’s) such as being a Eucharistic minister, establishing prayer groups, special devotion sessions and also doing necessary masonry repairs. He accompanies the pastor on his weekly visit to a nursing home, assists at the service, then entertains the residents by playing his accordion for a while. Adolph’s readiness to assist in any capacity for the parish earned him the St. Joseph the Worker award in 2005. He noted that the opportunity for church involvement here is much greater than in Germany.
Conservative by nature, politics and religion, he readily, participates in protesting things that oppose his beliefs. A great believer in natural products and healing, he makes his own sauerkraut, wine, cider, maple syrup, Swedish bitters, etc. and now buys much of their other needed items from Amish and Mennonite families that have established themselves in the Orleans County area.
Adolph noted that his choice of coming here was as much an adventure to see and learn about the United States, its people and its way, as it was an intent to remain here for good. As time and circumstances evolved, he decided to stay. Now in his 80s he feels that financially his life here is as good, or better than had he remained in Germany. Benefits, especially in health and general welfare of the individual however are better there. He has visited his homeland many times over the years and his family accompanied him on some of the trips. There will likely be a few more.
Joe and Anna exhibited great faith in sponsoring immigrants and they certainly could be proud of what they contributed to the melting pot of this great country.