Fire Rages Through Chicago!

by Tali Gleiser

I came here from Ireland about a week before the fire; my brother found me a factory job working an assembly line at the meat packing company he worked for. When I first arrived and saw the statue, I still expected to see gold paved streets beneath Lady Liberty. New York was still hardly what I expected but I was still hopeful on my train ride to Chicago. I walked down a narrow street with my brother, the little alleyway his apartment building sat in was hardly a street built by dreams like I’d been told. It was close quarters in my brother’s house. Our cousin, his wife, and two children all stayed in one room while my brother slept in a room with his wife and young daughters. I shared the couch with my nephew; he was only nine and didn’t take up much space though. When I started work at the factory it didn’t exactly seem like a place that would help me achieve my dream of becoming a pub owner, but it was money, and I needed that. One night I woke up to my young cousin staring out the window and the smell of smoke. I looked outside of our tiny, dirty window to see what looked like half the city engulfed in flames. At this point, America looked more like Hell than a golden land of prosperity to me. We didn't leave the apartment all three days of the fire. My cousin’s wife said it was the apocalypse and walked around mumbling passages from the Bible because “judgment day had come.”

When the flames finally stopped raging, three hundred people were dead and the meat packing company had been reduced to a pile of ash, apparently because of some vow kicking a lantern.

It was when we began to rebuild that U began to see that golden shimmer all immigrants come here for. I got money for losing my job at the factory and opened a pub with my brother and cousin. We now live in a nice house and all have our own rooms. The fire was a tragedy, but here we are four short years later, and for me, the streets have been replaced with gold.

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