My father Pedro [that’s how he wanted to be called in the US] emigrated during the war to Argentina from Austria; he had a doctor in medicine degree, but could not use it since Argentinian law required five years of college. He needed to eat, so he carried cement bags on his back [eating sausages and milk] as they were constructing Ave. General Paz. He later worked his way to be part owner of a company. My mother Mary, was born in Chile with an English father and a Chilean mother and came to Argentina, when her father passed away, at an early age with her mother and two aunts. My parents met in a tennis court. They got married and had me after five years. In 1951, we lived in a little house on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Ciudad Jardin Lomas del Palomar [yes, I am a porteno, the worst type of Argentinians].
At 12 we moved to the city and by that time life was much better. We were middle class, belonged to a tennis club, went on vacations for three months to the sea side [Mar del Plata].
Governments were elected, and did not last, all South American countries had the armed forces taking over governments, some had elections, some stayed for too long, and Argentina was no exception. Domingo Peron was deposed in 1955 and then after many governments, Peronism was allowed to present a party in or about 1971. My parents were, by then, members of a tennis club and a Bridge/Chess club, had many, many friends and a wonderful society to live in, a very nice life. I of course without knowing it, enjoyed a great life, too.
Then, when it was evident Peronism was coming back, with my father admiring the US as he had for so many years, he obtained an offer from Celanese Plastics to come and live in the US as an agents manager for Latin America. He convinced my mother and off they went to the States not knowing a person at 60 years old. Oh, how my mother suffered, not knowing anybody, and so many new and different habits, all with a life made and in no need of new friends, different values. But through Bridge clubs and tennis constructed, they once again an atmosphere they could live in. They left me behind in Argentina in my own apartment, with my car and barely 22 years old…oh what a life! After four years at University, I came to live here at my parent’s apartment making my mother start to understand life here with my enthusiasm. I was accepted at Stevens Institute of Technology where I earned my Masters in Polymer Chemistry. I worked hard to make American friends, learned about football, baseball.
Well, I got married to my college sweetheart, had a baby girl Michelle, but… my ex hated the USA, left me and went back with her parents to Buenos Aires. I sold the house in Connecticut, resigned my job and went back but, she did not love me anymore. After four years I came back to the US to live again with my parents. I met my wife for life, Deb, 32 years ago on a blind date, an American, and together we adopted two Colombian children.
Today our friends are American. I have just one Latino friend. My son Peter speaks but does not practice Spanish; I enjoy very much my work, since it allows me to travel to South America. I enjoy speaking while there, our habits, food and music. But when in the States, I do not miss my Latin background, but rather enjoy the American way, “see you later,” “have a nice day!”
— Roberto Gollmann