1881: Chicago

4th of July, 1881

I was driven through festive decorated streets, where the northamerican star-spangled banner waved in countless flags in the wind, to the Turnhall [gym], where my brother Rudolf welcomed me – he had been working here since last September. The “Independence Day” was celebrated today, in rememberance of the Declaration of Independence of the United States on the 4th of July 1776. After a refreshing bath in the Lake Michigan, we visited Dr. Ruschhaupt, whom I brought greetings from his brother in law, Dr. Deubel from Barmen. Afterwards we made a small beerjourney [today one would probably say bar hopping], and I took a room in the same boardinghouse my brother stayed in.

The next day I used to visit several major leather factories to find work for some weeks, because I lacked some liquid funds for my big journey to the far west. In the afternoon I met a french man, Marius Giraud, wo had worked with my older brother Alex in Munich in 1868. He invited us friendly to stay with him in his simple apartment, where we talked animated on the flat roof of the house. On the 6th of July I got a job at the major upper leather factory from Grey Clark & Co. as a border and started my occupation at 1 o’clock for a weekly salary of 11 Dollar.

The next days we had to suffer from awful heat. Already at 7 o’clock at the start of my work the thermometer had risen to above 36°C, while at noon a heat of 40°C to 42°C prevailed. Several nights I spent on the floor of the hallway or in a rocking chair which I had put on the street. On Sunday, 10th of July, I visited the Lincoln Park with Rudolf at the shores of the Lake Michigan, a wonderful site of the city of Chicago. In the course of the next weeks, I met several fellow countrymen from home, Julius Tückmantel and his uncle Knecht, both from Solingen [city near Wuppertal-Barmen].

The labor conditions in the big factories were quite unsecure. When work stumbled due to a shortage in materials, which happened often, the workers simply had to leave work for one or several days, without any compensation of course; there was no period of notice.

During my stay of four weeks I had supplemented my travel funds and even had purchased a new pair of shoes. One day prior to my departure on August 2nd I purchased a number of various tanner’s tools, with whom I meant to run the to be established tannery in the far west.
I had spent exactly 4 weeks in the large trade and industry metropolis, four hot weeks, in which each day had squeezed countless beads of sweat out of me. The continuous heat had distressed me strongly. Gladly, I turned my back on the giant city.

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