Dateline” Cleveland, Ohio – 1955” A paper drive is underway and a trailer sits at the curb near East Clark Elementary School in Hough, a transitional neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. Neighbors are tying up bundles of newspapers to ‘donate’ to the paper drive and are placing them in the truck. A nine year old boy and his five year old brother are carting a bundle or two to add to the trailer. As the five year old slid the bundles to the front of the trailer to add to the stack, he sees a bundle of books and shows them to his brother. The nine year old loves books and learning. He and his brother take the stack of four books home to see what exciting knowledge might be revealed.


The books languished in a box or on a shelf for another half century; their significance, like unpolished gems, undiscovered.


  1. “The World and its Peoples Photographed and Described”, Rand McNally, 1910

  2. “The American Nations”, Wallace Atwood & Helen Thomas, Ginn, 1950

  3. “Building America”, Volume 1, National Education Association, 1941

  4. “Building America”, Volume 6, National Education Association, 1941


Rediscovered as they, like their young rescuers, reach retirement age or older, jewels of wisdom shine forth. There is no monetary value, no museum quality; no great wisdom imparted from these, primarily educational, tomes. Yet, in an almost metaphysical way, they show the almost futile struggle of our culture to move forward; forward to the almost same position they held a hundred, or fifty, years before.


Exhibit 1 – Just who are THOSE PEOPLE, anyway?


From Reference 4, page 26 and I quote!


“The idea that America has been a country of refuge is a myth. America once needed labor to develop our natural resources. The immigrant supplied it. America’s need became the immigrant’s opportunity to help himself. The time of need has passed, and opportunity exists no longer. Why then, should America take Europe’s unwanted people” The wanted ones are compelled by their own governments to remain at home”.


Oy veh ist mir! This Jingoist ultraconservative tripe (Sorry, that’s editorializing.) was published by The Department of Supervision and Curriculum Development of the National Education Association. [Wait. Those are the folks who teach our children. In this case, they taught us, or maybe your parents.]


Like the infomercials you watch on those sleepless nights: “Wait, there’s more.” Here are just a few highlights.


  • If comparatively few aliens now in this country are on relief, it may mean that they are getting the jobs Americans should have.

  • They would take too long to Americanize.

  • People without jobs do not contribute to our taxes, and we cannot bear the added burden of caring for a great flood of refugees now.

  • We should let Europe solve its problems while we work out our own.


When this stuff was published, the immigrant in question was German, Italian, French or Jewish fleeing the looming, or existing, cataclysm of World War. Today that immigrant is most likely, Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran or one of a dozen other Hispanic countries. The target changes. The tripe remains. When will we realize that America … that’s the United States of America … is made up of waves upon waves of immigrants, each changing the face of the landscape in a slow erosion of the preceding landscape? The immigrant tides will continue inexorably washing upon our shores. The face of America will change again and again; in the future as it has in the past. We have no control over the American landscape of tomorrow; nor can we stem the tide. We should welcome it as we welcome spring floods that bring fresh top soil to the land.


“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana


Thanks, George.

(Written in 2010)