The Milk Truck
I have been busy planning my wedding these past six months. This process has included colors and flowers, and food tastings of course, but it has also included moments of reflection and tears for my family members who are no longer with us. It’s meant going through old photos of vows taken by my grandparents and parents and thinking of the lives they created that allowed their granddaughter to wind up working at Harvard University.
My dad’s parents got married in a function hall located under a viaduct in the Chinatown/Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago in November of 1939. My grandmother always said they served tiny beef sandwiches and had a “barrel of beer” for their friends. Their own parents had immigrated to the U.S. from Italy just a few decades before and spent time working in the mines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula prior to making their way to join other relatives in Chicago. My grandfather worked his way up to owning his own milk truck route in the 1950s and early 60s, providing milk to a large patchwork of homes and becoming a childhood memory for any number of neighborhood kids.
My own father went to barber school after serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He married my mom, coincidentally the cousin of his childhood best friend, a few years later and the rest is history as they say.
There was never a question that my older sister and I would attend college. Our parents did for us what countless of immigrant families do every year – they make sacrifices so their children can have more. And we did, we had more.
But in having more, we learned that we were unprepared and unsure and a little lost. Back then, I didn’t know what it meant to be “first-gen” and certainly didn’t have a community to lean on and learn from. But I did have the hopes and dreams of that couple who got married in 1939 under the viaduct. And that kept me going. I suspect it’s the same for many of you.
As my wedding day approaches, I am reminded every day of those vows and the sacrifices made. I miss those who are no longer here but am grateful for the path they laid for me to follow. Knowing that Harvard’s First Gen/Next Gen community has each other to lean on and learn from fills me with pride. My grandparents would have felt like we were expanding their milk route and pouring more from that barrel of beer. Because, you know, the more the merrier.