This is the story of an adventure. After all, what could be a greater adventure than picking up all you own and moving to a land 3,000 miles away – a land you’ve never seen and can’t begin to imagine – a place about which there are only rumors and fantastic stories – streets paved with gold, everybody rich, liberty, democracy, freedom! And so they came … One quarter of the entire Jewish population of Eastern Europe. They stepped onto the shore, having survived the 14-day trip crammed into steerage, eager to breathe the air of freedom and they heard, “All right you god-damn greenhorns – move your asses
Yossel had been a tailor in Russia. In his tiny shop, in his tiny home, with his very own sewing machine, he had made fine women’s shirtwaists and dresses. He had also invented, and almost perfected a self-winding triple bobbin, which would allow him to sew better and faster than before. But here in America – in America he is a worker in a sweatshop, along with thousands of others. (Oh, also, he has a new name. Due to the accidental use of a Yiddish word, an immigration official has given him a new American moniker – Ferguson!)
However, Yossel is a lucky man, a kind man, and a man of principal. It is his kindness that brings him his first stroke of luck. He befriends an old Gypsy woman at Ellis Island – Mama Lenka – who offers him a place to stay, in her home on Rivington Street. Albeit it is two rooms, which he shares with his wife, his wife’s young widowed cousin and her baby, still he is a lot more fortunate than most. Yossel and Leah work in a sweatshop, while Sadie stays home, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Leah’s baby. Yossel is also a man of principal, and when union organizers come to the sweatshop, he sees nothing wrong with joining them in their fight for equality. In fact he convinces all of his co-workers to do the same. After all – THIS IS AMERICA!!
Yossel makes a new friend, a union organizer named Michael Francis Patrick Dooley. (He thinks Yossel is Irish) The two men are kindred spirits, and their friendship is fast and firm. But the owner of the sweatshop doesn’t take kindly to unions, and everyone in the shop gets fired. Yossel feels terrible about this, but vows to start his own business.
Now a transformation begins. Yossel the tailor becomes Ferguson the businessman, reaching for his American dream – a big new store selling ladies dresses.
There are battles to be won – a banker who won’t lend him money, a loan shark who will, and a union demanding he hire more workers than he can afford, but Ferguson insists he can succeed and become a “real” American.
Please join Ferguson and his brood in their heartwarming and often comical adventures on the road to success in America.