What was the cost to come to the U.S. in 1956?

May 16, 2012 

In an election year, the subject of immigration will be touted in the news. This article reminds me of how much effort it takes to come to this country, and the hard work willing done by people who want to live here.

Scrubs floors five years for grandson

By Charles Lamb, Herald staff reporter
Published on June 6, 1956

PROSSER -- There were tears of happiness and a moral behind the reunion Sunday night of a gray-haired Prosser grandmother and her favorite grandson.

The happiness of Mrs. Kathie Koenig, Kite's Apartments, and her German-born grandson Bernd, were the reward of five long years of labor and prayer.

The reunion was made possible by spare pennies Mrs. Koenig has managed to save as a janitress for the Old National Bank in Prosser since she, herself, arrived from Germany five years ago. She bought her grandson's $246 airline ticket from Munich, Germany from money she has put aside scrubbing floors and baby-sitting since coming to Prosser.

"I have worked and saved to bring by little Bernd to America, and now I am happy," said Mrs. Koenig, whose speech still carries inflections of her native tongue.

Ten-year-old Bernd arrived at Yakima airport Sunday night to greet his grandmother who had been waiting for him since early morning. Unable to speak English, the red-haired lad came all the way from Munich by himself, only to get miss-routed on the last leg of his 6,000-mile air journey that began at 6:45 p.m. (German time) Friday.

At Spokane, airlines personnel mistakenly put Bernd on the Seattle bound airliner, and his arrival was delayed until 6 o'clock that night. Mrs. Koenig said Bernd had no trouble recognizing her when he stepped off the plane, although they hadn't seen each other since he was only five. "I hope we never have to leave each other again," said Mrs. Koenig, who plans to raise the boy as her own son in America.

"He's the only boy I have," she said, recalling that her only son (Bernd's uncle) was killed during World War II. Bernd's mother is remarried and plans to remain in Germany.

Mrs. Koenig has another daughter, Mrs. Bruno Webori in Hebron, N.D., and four other grand children. She said Mrs. Webori helped her get to America.

Tuesday, Mrs. Koenig's grandson spent his time eating, playing with a new electric train and watching television. His eyes shone like he'd just had a glimpse of fairyland.

Neighborhood children with whom Bernd has already made friends have given him his first English lesson. By the end of the summer, Mrs. Koenig is confident he will speak good enough English to enroll in the fifth grade.

"He's a good boy and he'll learn fast," said the little grandmother who herself has overcome the language barrier in only five years time.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service