Migrating at Nine
Family Migration Paper
October 4, 2013
It was 1956 in the town of Corbin, Kentucky. Three small girls, ages 11, 9, and 8 got into the car of their World War II Veteran, Uncle Charles Heathcott, accompanied by their 34 year old mother, Frances Heathcott Gallagher. They were headed west to San Jose, California. Their father, George W. Gallagher, joined his family later after he took care of closing out their affairs. The Gallagher family left their history of origin because of pressing economic issues. Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president this year and overall the economy was doing well. After World War II, George Gallagher was convinced by his mother, Ella, to move from Pennsylvania, where he had an offer of an administrative position, to return to his hometown to assist his father with the Gallagher Dry Cleaning business. He ironed the family’s clothing his entire life! My mother told me that she thought we would starve to death if the family had remained in Kentucky. This was the primary push factor.
The pull factor was mother’s sister, Jeannette, who had migrated from Dyersburg, Tennessee, to marry her World War II hero, Salvador Sunzeri. Aunt Jeanette letters persuaded my mother of the tremendous opportunity in the booming Western town of San Jose. In order to move, my parents sold a piece of property they had purchased, for $700.00. With that sum, they moved over 3,000 miles. What is significant and scary is my father had no guarantee of employment, shelter, or support, other than Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Sam. For most of my life, I totally admired my mother for uprooting her family to move to the land of opportunity. For example, when my father joined us several months later, he was able to find gainful employment at the start-up company, The IBM Corporation. He told me that his first job was moving furniture. Thirty-five years later, he was earning over $100,000 a year, without a college education....
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