01 – Migration Chorus

“The streets of Gary were paved with gold. That’s what they heard as immigrants. And so, that’s where they went.”

 

This is part 1 of a 5-part series, Chorus of Voices: Retelling Northwest Indiana History. Several of the original interviews were recorded in partnership with StoryCorps: www.storycorps.org

Part 2: Neighborhood

Part 3: Flight Paths

Part 4: Impact

Part 5: Thinking Regionally

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Transcript for Migration Chorus.

You know, Gary, perhaps you didn’t know, for a long time, was the largest city in America founded in the 20th century.

My father was born in Greenwood, Mississippi; my mother was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi. My mother from New Orleans, and my father from Cotton Plant, Arkansas. They had come up to Gary, Indiana, from the deep, deep South. From Orange, Texas. Guthrie, Oklahoma.

All my grandparents came over from Greece. My parents both come from Germany. He was a dairyman from Czechoslovakia.

There was a Polish community,

              Polish,

there was an Italian community,

              Macedonian,

Hispanic community,

              Lithuanian,

Croatian and Serbian,

              Greek, German.

So every little area of the city had pockets of ethnicity. It was families that had, after the war, were looking for housing.

Gary was the place to be in the 40s. You know, it had the motto—I suppose it still does: “The City of the Century.” The streets of Gary were paved with gold. That’s what they heard as immigrants. And so, that’s where they went: they went to Gary.