My father immigrated from Russia to the United States in 1921 when he was 10. His family lived on a potato farm in a Ukrainian village near Kiev. He was the youngest of eleven children and was accompanied on his journey by his mother and three siblings. His mother had sent two older groups of her children away in the years before. "Go to America," she said. Things were bad in Russia. In addition to the pogroms against Jews, the Russian Revolution and World War I (which Russia withdrew from to fight its own war) were raging.
My grandfather objected to immigrating and was furious that my grandmother had sent the older kids off while he was away, so she waited for him to die before posting a notice, via a traveling salesman from the United States, in a Jewish newspaper saying: "The family of Rifka Grossman wants to come to America." She hoped the message would somehow make its way to her children now living in Texas. It did. They raised money and sent my 21-year-old Uncle Simon to bring them out. Borders were sealed, so when he reached Poland, he hired an agent (my father described him as huge with one eye) to travel into Russia to escort them out. When the agent reached my grandmother's house in the middle of the night, he slipped a picture of my Uncle Simon under the door as proof of identity. My grandmother sold the farm that night to neighbors and she and my father left the next morning. They picked up the other siblings in Kiev before setting out on foot for Poland. Because of the war, they traveled 500 miles at night, through forests, bribing border guards along the way, to Warsaw, where their forged papers were stolen. This forced them to wait a year before sailing for the United States, landing at Ellis Island, and migrating, via Boston, to Corpus Christi, Texas, where they joined the rest of the family.