Friday, August 4, 2023

1952: Arthur's American Girl

I just found a copy of a 1960 letter my grandfather wrote to the editor of Reader's Digest, with a submission to the column Life in These United States. My grandfather described a sweetly off-color comment he made in the courtroom just before the federal judge entered to confer citizenship on the group of new Americans. 

Note: He'd been in the US for almost 13 years when he wrote it, and his English was quite fluent (I cannot tell from reading it, that it's not his native language).  However, I modernized some of his punctuation (he put his commas outside his quotation marks) and capitalization, and added a couple of paragraph breaks to make it flow a little better, but otherwise made no changes.

    We immigrated, my wife and myself with our two children, to the United States coming from France. After a few fully expected hardships, the usual American miracle worked its way and our life started following a quite successful course. My situation with a research department of a major oil company in a mid-western city quickly improved, the children loved their schools, we made a lot of friends. 

    Then came the great day when my wife and myself became citizens of this republic.  We were both sitting in a federal court room along with about 30 other prospective new Americans. Around us stood delegations of schools, civic organizations, Daughters of the American Revolution with flags, all waiting to see the forthcoming ceremony and greet all of us.  

    The bailiff asked us to rise. Silence spread over the solemn court room. The federal judge was about to enter. 

    Suddenly, for a reason I could not explain, I felt a compulsion to address myself to a friend standing with his wife in front of me, and who also were about to become citizens. "Lotar," I said in a very quiet whisper, "do you know what will happen to me tonight?" 

    "No," was his scarcely audible answer. 

    "Well," I said, "for the first time in my life I'll go to bed with an American girl."

    My poor wife beside me and my poor friends in front of me had to strive hard to overcome an irresistible urge to laugh. The judge entered. Then we all became genuinely solemn. 

252 words
From Arthur Lubinski
Tulsa, Oklahoma