There was nothing sweet or gentle about Glasgow. As Peggy stood out in front of her mother’s house, she shivered in the bitter cold. She wasn’t allowed in the house– her mother’s orders. Even though she could no longer live with her mother or her younger siblings, she understood. Factory work was hard at age fourteen, but manual labor was much easier for Peggy and her younger sister, Betty, to bear than the fear of their new stepfather in the middle of the night. Her mother had many mouths to feed, but she had to protect her girls somehow. Reality could be as harsh as a Glasgow winter.
This day, two years after Peggy had been forced to live apart from her family, her mother ran outside with the news that they all had longed for: Auntie Taggart had sent passage for Peggy and Betty! They were to board the ship Columbia for the Promised Land, America. As they hugged and laughed, they had tears running down their cheeks. Her mother had accomplished her dearest wish for her oldest girls, but now she might never see them again.
We don’t know what my grandmother’s life was like, living in Rhode Island with her aunt and her family, but she probably never went to school again. She’d been a hard worker her entire life, and she was expected to earn her keep at her aunt’s house. One day, though, when she was leaving the neighborhood grocery store, it started to rain, and a miracle happened. Handsome Archie Boucher stepped forward and offered to walk her home under his umbrella. She, Peggy the foreigner, with her thick brogue and pug nose, was walking home with Archie. The stars never fell from her eyes.