They came from the old country, Germany and Hungary,

With a detour to Rumania where they lived for a while,

and family folklore has it that

they bought–and kept–a house there;

Perhaps they never fully intended

to put down roots

in this country,

But they immigrated to the United States

and from Ellis Island they traveled to

Cincinnati, Ohio.

I don’t know why they chose Cincinnati,

but I remember that they had many friends

who spoke their language,

Immigrants themselves,

so perhaps they had friends who cajoled them

to join them in Cincinnati,

Where many of the residents of this city

by the Ohio River

Were also German and Hungarian,

Where you could find German meat markets

and there was a neighborhood called

Over the Rhine,

where displaced Germans and Hungarians

could drink beer

and talk about the old country.

My father was born in a part of downtown Cincinnati

in 1915 followed by a brother, two years later,

and a sister in 1920.

Whatever their original intentions

Along came World War II

and even though I have no memories

of anyone ostracizing us because

our grandparents were German and Hungarian,

I think the end result of World War II

was that they could never go back

to the old country again.

It was a subject my grandmother

preferred not to discuss—

and whatever she thought

or felt about the old country,

she took with her to the grave in 1959.


Originally posted June 21, 2010

Updated September 29, 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s