Rackauskas immigration

George Rackauskas, husband of Helen Sitki Rackauskas, was quoted in the July 22, 1990 Catholic Times about how his father Mike immigrated from Lithuania at the turn of the Twentieth Century.
George told the Times that his uncle had been forced into a Russian slave labor camp for two years. Seeing his brother’s broken health, George’s father Mike, at the age of 18, decided to immigrate first to England.
After working in English sugar mills for a few years, Mike earned enough money for passage to America by ship. However, when he arrived at Ellis Island, he had a small growth on his eye, so they sent him back. A doctor in England said the growth wasn’t harmful, so Mike went back to work, earned enough money to buy another passage to America, and returned.
“(This time) when the boat docked (in New York) and they let down the gangplank, (trying to avoid the health examiners), my father didn’t even take his bag with him. He ran down the gangplank and whistles were blowing and everybody was hollering,” George said.
“There was a group of people down at the end (of the gangplank) wating for their friends and relatives. My father ran right into the middle of them. They opened and closed up (hiding him in their midst).” And that’s how the elder Rackauskas made it into the U.S. without papers. Some years later when Mike applied for U.S. citizenship in Springfield, he had to declare that he was here illegally. He had to have people sign affidavits saying he was a good citizen and of good character.
In Springfield, he couldn’t stand the mines anymore, so he went to work at Pillsbury Mills.”
While still a miner, Mike was the first in his northside neighborhod to buy U.S. Savings Bonds during the World War, picking up the nickname, “U.S. Mike.” According to Helen Sitki Rackauskas, “the other miners started buying bonds, too, saying, ‘If it’s good enough for Mike, it’s good enough for us.'”


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