Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Nathan Weiselman - January 1, 1985

Early Years in America

How long did you work for the Popular?

I worked only one year in the, at the Popular Dry Goods. And after I decided to change my job for a, because when I came the first day to El Paso, I have a very remarkable experience that, from the first day I said to my wife, "I'm not going to work for nobody. As soon I'm getting to know the language, I'm going to open my own business." The reason, what inspired me this to say, I went to, in El Paso, in the business section of clothing, and I went in, in this store and I picked up a shirt. ??? And I see the shirt is priced six dollars. I ??? very naive at that time of course now I've had more experience, I wouldn't even ask this. But since he know that I was just a refugee, came a here ten days, and didn't have means of uh, financial ability to organize a company, I said, "How much it cost you for this shirt?" He said, "That shirt cost me three dollars. And you gave me six dollars." I asked him question, "Is this freedom? In America? When it cost you three dollars and you take six?" They don't ask? What a great country; anybody has the right to price whatever he wants. I said, "My father used to be in clothing business. He had a tailor shop in the home, which we did at one time, people in only three rooms, and he got the machines in the home and he make for himself the suits and he went on the market place because we lived in an apartment house, so the finer people couldn't-didn't know about that, so we went every day in a different village in a small town, put up a tent, of course. Eighteen-owned all these suits by himself with some help and the government allowed him to make only seventeen, eighteen percent profit. And they did go even around on the market, secret service men, who ??? all day, coat or a topcoat, they ask him to show them, they check what category make, it was one, two, three categories. And then was cotton and rayon and wool, half wool. And they got their prizes for each category, how much is it across the table. And if they find out that the merchant took more than he's supposed to take, they could, they arr...they could arrest him or they give away his license or they give him a fine. So, when I come home and I talked to my wife about, my, my experience, I told her, "You know Leah, if I were have to take all of my belonging to a pawn shop and get my money to open a business, I will do it. But I cannot do it now because I don't know even, I didn't know what it means yes or no. So, as soon as I learn a little bit, uh, English, I open my own tailor shop."

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