I enjoyed Tim Forbes’s story about his grandfather Forbes (June/July). In the same way, I have always thought that a story about my father, also an immigrant, and his friends was interesting. My father was Norwegian, and in 1908 his father gave him a new suit, twenty-five dollars, and a boat ticket to New York City. He eventually got there and continued on to Detroit, where he went to the center of town (Grand Circus Park) and sat on a bench, contemplating his next move. Two men sat down next to him, both immigrants and also newly arrived in Detroit. One of the men was German, the other Irish. They decided to pool their small resources and rent a room for three. For several months they lived on very little—the Irishman ate mainly peanuts, the German sauerkraut, and the Norwegian fish. The Norwegian went to work on the assembly line at Midland-Ross, the German at Ford Motor Company, and the Irishman worked as a song-and-dance man. The German and Norwegian wanted to be engineers, so they bought a course from the International Correspondence School in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The very American punch line to this story is that my father, Einer Almdale, ended up as vice-president of MidlandRoss, with more than a hundred inventions to his credit; the German, Rudolph Herrklutz, became the master mechanic for the Ford Motor Company—second or third man to old Henry Ford; and the Irishman became a successful movie actor—Jack Oakie.