|Grandpa Mike shows style long before my existence|
Both entered the country at Laredo, Texas, and my maternal grandfather came with the understanding that a great American company had a job for him if he could get himself into the country.
WHICH IS HOW my grandfather, Michael Vargas, wound up working at the now-defunct Wisconsin Steel plant in the South Deering neighborhood for his entire adult life.
And before anybody asks, he died just before that tragic event when the steel mill closed, all its workers were laid off, their final paychecks bounced and some retirees lost pension benefits.
Whereas my other grandfather, Ignacio Tejeda, Sr., (my father is 'Junior') came with less of a plan – other than knowing there wasn’t much opportunity back home. He came to Texas, got caught up by recruiters who brought him north, and he worked jobs in Detroit and Gary, Ind., before he finally crossed over the Illinois state line into Blue Island, then Chicago where he worked at a variety of factory-type jobs throughout his life.
As things turned out, they both wound up settling in the South Chicago neighborhood just a couple of blocks from each other – which is how my parents met as children, grew up together and ultimately begat myself.
THAT’S THE QUICKIE version of my own life story – I’m here because of life-altering acts by my grandfathers who likely had no concept of my eventual existence. They were just looking for a better life, and were more than willing to work their nalgas off (or do you prefer to call it a kiester) in order to achieve it.
And in the process, I’m most likely much better off for it. A muchos gracias to my abuelos for having more ambition in life than most men.
Now what compelled me to feel the need to share this abbreviated tale?
|My grandpa Nacho, along with my father and uncles Arturo and Carlos|
WE’RE GOING TO be asked to do a massive share of our families’ life stories. It’s part of an effort to let people know that they’re welcome in Chicago, regardless of where they’re from.
And also that the people who have the tnativist hang-ups are the ones who’d be better off not setting foot in the Second City.
Now all of this debate over immigration is the product of our mental midget of a president, Donald Trump, who campaigned aggressively last year by appealing to those people who can’t handle the thought of anyone not exactly like themselves being allowed a place within our society.
|Part of Emanuel's response ...|
Every time Trump feels compelled to take another pot shot at Chicago, we’re likely to point to yet another of these immigrant stories that make up our fair city.
EVEN MAYOR RAHM Emanuel includes himself amongst these stories – using a weekend appearance touting the One Chicago initiative to let us know of his own grandfather, who came to Chicago at age 13 not speaking English.
|... to Trump's appeal to our worst nature|
It’s a part of what makes the fine character of this city, no matter how much Trump wants to play politics with the FBI’s crime statistics for Chicago to make us think Englewood and North Lawndale are typical of the whole city – while also ignoring the very serious problems that exist in those inner-city neighborhoods!
Which is the very serious point trying to be made behind what might come across as a touchy-feely initiative to share family stories.
Personally, I’m pleased to add my own grandfathers’ tales to an effort meant to extend a certain vulgar digit to those individuals for whom xenophobia is their preeminent sentiment toward life.