My grandparents came to America a hundred or so years ago.
Grandma was a beautiful Polish actress who performed on New York City’s Yiddish stage, while my burly Russian grandfather was a butcher in a shop in Brooklyn.
They escaped the Pogroms to start a new life here, found each other, and together pursued the American dream.
Now Louis didn’t much like the attention Eva got from men while on stage and pressured her into leaving show business. Instead, she soon worked in a clothing factory where a sewing machine needle went straight through her hand, ending that career, too.
Grandpa had his own job woes. One day at work, he was robbed at gunpoint, and they tossed him in the meat freezer. He was freezing to death, but luckily a customer released him upon hearing his pitiful cries.
Like countless other immigrants, they paid their dues, had kids, lived their lives, and eventually retired to Florida.
They’re long gone now.
Over the years, one of my many jobs has been working in various NYC immigrant communities teaching English Second Language and Citizenship. And anybody who does the tired, “They don’t want to learn English” spiel best not say it to me. I’ve taught thousands who waited in long lines in the searing heat and freezing cold to register for our classes. So I’ll call you out on that xenophobic crap.
And I married a beautiful woman from Korea who, like many, has “one foot here, one foot there.” Her 92-year-old mom and two brothers live in South Korea, and yours truly and her sister are here.
She recently studied hard, got her American citizenship, and is ever so proud of the achievement. Oh, and after 14 years here, she still struggles with our complex language.
I recently discovered the Apple TV Plus series Little America, an anthology of true immigrant tales from a diverse team featuring a different cast in each episode.
It’s quickly become my favorite show on TV.
The premiere episode is exceedingly poignant and memorable. A 12-year-old boy’s parents are deported, and although devastated, he manages their run-down motel for years until they finally return. In the second, an undocumented and troubled teen’s squash coach profoundly changes her life. The next is about a lonely and homesick Nigerian immigrant coping with culture shock in 1981 Oklahoma and even has scenes in an ESL classroom that I could readily relate to. And so on. Each episode brings you a new tale and real-life struggle and often switches back and forth between English and the characters’ native language.
It’s a unique and very special show, and I’m so pleased that it has been renewed for a second season.
Little America is warm, rings true, and will touch your heart. I’ve even found myself wiping away a tear or two.
It comes with my highest recommendation.
Don’t miss it.
Evan Ginzburg is an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie “The Wrestler” and the acclaimed wrestling documentary “350 Days.” He is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. In addition, he’s a published author and a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran, and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at [email protected].