After arriving in America in mid afternoon, (August 23rd, 1955,) we stayed overnight in San Francisco; the very next day we boarded a transcontinental train towards Springfield, Ohio, our new dream home. Spring field, the words themselves evoked prominent expectations!
On the train we asked Dad, ‘‘what do Americans eat for breakfast?’’ He took us to the diner car and we were shown the menu. Of course, we could only see the pictures, and not understand much else. In my meager English vocabulary, I noticed the words ‘Hot Cakes’ and asked if I could have hot cakes. Dad said yes to me and we all ended up ordering ‘hot cakes.’ I was imagining to myself, ‘here in America, for breakfast, people eat cakes, and heated, truly heaven on earth!!’
Our piping hot cakes arrived, stacked three high. Dad taught us to spread butter on them, so I liberally spread butter on each side of all three pieces. Then Dad said to pour on the syrup, thus again, I eagerly poured on my stack of hot cakes a very generous amount. Then we stopped to give thanks, each of us spoke from our hearts out loud. Finally, Dad said that we may eat. By now, the pancakes were cold and soggy, and the melted butter had recongealed, becoming greasy. With the first bite the taste was not like anything I had anticipated or expected. In fact I choked! (To this day, I avoid pancakes.)
So we asked again at lunch, ‘‘what do Americans eat for lunch?’’ We returned to the diner and Dad said, “Americans eat salad for lunch.” We ordered 3 salads to be shared. It came simply as a half a head of lettuce, unadorned, but accompanied with a variety of dressings. We poured the dressings on as a mixture and again were disappointed because we were not familiar with the sourness of the dressing or the raw taste of uncooked vegetable. I told my brothers that maybe we had to accept that American food is not for us, but I assured them we will survive. (I still prefer my vegetables cooked than raw.)
After three days on the cross-country train, we made it to Springfield in late August 1955. Meeting us at the station were Dr. and Mrs. Flack from the Hamma Divinity School and a few of the members of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. They took us for dinner at a cafeteria. Walking into this place we smelled the sweet aroma of fresh baking. Standing in line, we noticed that there were at least 50 halves of chicken hung on racks, to be ordered as ½’s or ¼’s. That was more cooked chicken in one place at one time that I have ever seen! We all had chicken that night. And it was very tasty. We began to feel that perhaps there was some hope for American food after all.