"I was the youngest, the youngest of nine."
     [Question:] "OK, cool."
     "My parents were both immigrants."
     [Question:] "Immigrants from?"
     [Question:] "Really? That's late immigration, in a sense."
     "Yes, it was. When, both my parents when they immigrated they did not know each other. They met in this country. I think my father was, he was about 16 when he came to this country. And that would have been about, just before the [first World War]. I'm guessing around 1914. My mother came to this country in 1923. They both died very young."
     [Question:] "Why did they come?"
     "I would say – I don't know the exact reason, but I would say relatives had come over here before. Particularly my father came for that reason. And I would say that's pretty much the same reason for my mother. And I apparently, life was a little tough in Germany, too. But they came both on their own. All by themself. My uncle that I have – different uncles brought them both at different times to this country."
     [Question:] "Okay. And what was that immigrant experience like for them? Did they tell you stories?"
     "Of course, being the youngest, the Second World War time was real tough, very tough, for obvious reasons. But we lived in the country, and our neighbors were just, they really were just terrific because there was some more urban people that – Both of my parents being German they spoke [German]. They learned the English language from their kids when their kids went to school."
     [Question:] "Really?"
     "That is correct."
     [Question:] "Now, did they immigrate directly to Iowa?"
     "They, yes both of them did. They settled, when they got married they lived in Mobile, Iowa. And then, I don't know exactly what year it was, but they moved to a little farm by Sheffield, Iowa, and Rockwell, Iowa, then Dougherty, Iowa."
     [Question:] "Interesting. And was he farming all that time?"
     "Yeah, farming. That's all my father ever did. He was killed in a car accident in 1953. And then Mom died the year I graduated from the University of Iowa. They were both quite young. They were both extremely hard workers, extremely hard workers."
     [Question:] "Interesting. A lot of communities in rural America now are experiencing new immigration influxes. A lot of times those are Hispanic people or other nationalities or immigration from other, not European countries. How has that changed? Do you see changes in that immigrant experience than what your parents went through?"
     "I would say I'm probably more supportive than a lot of my friends are because I know quite frankly that it's pretty close to home what happened in my particular case. And being in Arizona [for half the year], some of these Mexican people are just really wonderful people. Unfortunately, I'm sure you've spent time in Mexico. [It's] tough, tough! It's hard to support – When they can see if they get across that border and get a job, where does their money go? Back home to support people most of the time. Unfortunately the same as like happened in Cuba, you don't always get the best ones. That's too bad.
     "But, I guess I'm probably more lenient than some of the people around me as far as immigration. But the unfortunate thing, if you can control the immigration, like some things are trying to do I think you probably get a better mix of immigrants. I don't know if I'm right on that, but I think you would."
     [Question:] "What do you think about these proposals to make English the official language and to you know so that we have only one language that is being spoken in the country all the time?"
     "I 100 percent agree with that because I know even in our own case, my Mom and Dad, they wanted to learn the English language. Mom came over in 1923, and I was born in 1936. I never, ever heard anything but the English language talked in our house. And sure I had -- my oldest brother is only 12 years older than I am, so in a pretty short period of time 100 percent the English language. I feel bad about that. I wish I could talk German, but I can't because I wasn't around it."

Jim Ermer – His Immigrant Parents


Other Excerpts from Jim Ermer’s Interview:

The Bust of the 80s
Government Subsidies
Farm Equipment Brands
Tractor Technology
Planter Technology
Harvest Technology
Computers on the Farm
About David Wessels