My grandfather, George Ubbinga, was born in Germany and came to America, the land of opportunity, with his parents in 1884. They first lived in McComb, Illinois. As soon as they arrived, 17-year-old George secured work in a brick factory in a small town near McComb. This was a Yankee settlement, and no one spoke or understood German. Grandpa felt insecure and spoke nothing more than an occasional word while he was at work, but he picked up words and phrases here and there. One night he left his jacket at work, and when he went to pick it up the next morning, rats had gotten into it and ruined it. Very angry, he exploded, "Damn the American rats!" The sudden outburst from this quiet boy so surprised and amused his fellow workers that it was never forgotten. His first sentence in English became a much quoted, good-humored byword among those he worked with as long as he was there.
Myrtle May Duin
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