Welcome Visitor
Tue, Jul 14, 2020
202 members currently online.

Kicsi a világ: Once Upon a Time in Staten Island

In 1960, my mother began working at a surveying company in Staten Island called North, Allison & Ettlinger.  A Hungarian friend, de Benedicty Fruzsina, originally told her about the available job.  Fruzsina’s husband, George, may have been the first Hungarian to work there, but he was far from the last.  After George and Fruzsina left, my mother continued on till the present day, bringing in many more Hungarians along the way.  Since its founding in 1913, the company has changed its name a couple of times and today only a few people are left, but my mother still goes in 3 days a week in her 59th year of employment with the Ettlinger family.  I believe the other partners, or their descendants, were already gone before she got there.

The company was never too large; at its peak it may have had about 30 to 40 employees.  My mother drew maps along with at least one and at times 2 or 3 other Hungarians.  One day about 30 years or so ago, a customer came into the office to pick up a property map.  He was talking to my mother’s boss, Todd Ettlinger, toward the back of the office, while my mother and her colleagues were working at their drafting tables toward the front of the office; and of course they were all speaking Hungarian.

The customer heard their conversation and, while looking over toward them, he asked the boss: “Are they all foreigners?”  I guess the boss was so used to having them there, he responded: “Oh no!  They aren’t foreigners, they're Hungarians.”

Printer-friendly format