Friday, 18 March 2011

His Mysterious Ways by Bob Robison

Jobs were hard to find in New York City in 1930. Just 19, I was fresh off the boat from Sweden and didnt speak any English.
When I'd boarded the train in my hometown of Karlskrona, Sweden, a woman next to me had asked, Where are you going?
America, I said. To make a new start.
My cousin Lars works in New York City, she informed me. At the Steinway piano factory. Look him up when you get there. She wrote on a piece of paper, handed it to me and said, God be with you.
It was a sweltering New York day when I set out in search of the factory. I had no idea where it was. I wandered the city for hours, showing people that scrap of paper, which bore four words: Lars Olsen-Steinway Piano. Nobody was able to help me.
I was disappointed, and so tired. When I saw a parked car I opened the door and slid into the front seat. Where I was from anyone could rest in someone elses wagon or cart. I hoped the same was true here.
I soon fell asleep, but was jolted awake by the blast of a whistle. Workmen streamed out of a nearby building. One of the yelled at me, in English. What is he so upset about? I answered instinctively in Swedish that I was sorry. Amazingly, he responded in Swedish, What are you doing in my car? I explained, then showed him that piece of paper. The man smiled. He said the whistle I had heard announced the end of the workday at Steinway & Sons. Then he walked me around the corner and introduced me to someone who got me a job as a painter.
By now youve probably guessed. The man who owned the car was Lars Olsen.

Author, A. Samuel Mattson, Cheshire, Connecticut


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