Turn Verein Hall, Lawrence, MA
Yesterday I profiled Nashville's ProEnglish advisory board member Eddie V. Garcia, who testified last Tuesday against Tennessee's translations of the written drivers license exam. He did this even though his father had to get around Lawrence, Massachusetts for at least a year before learning English (the Garcias arrived in the U.S. when Eddie was three years old, and Eddie was still translating for his Dad at four).
Eddie, you weren't driving your Dad to the bank at four, were you?
Lawrence, Mass., where Garcia grew up, sounds a lot like Nashville's historic Germantown (the kind we learn about at Oktoberfest) and also like the Nolensville Road that ProEnglish and their allies complain about, what with the sizable immigrant influx and foreign language signs (see above) and all. Lawrence even had Italian- and Spanish-speaking communities, in which Eddie Garcia's family freely socialized in their native tongues.
Lawrence's official web site boasts of the city's immigrant identity:
Known as the "Immigrant City", Lawrence has always been a multi-ethnic and multicultural gateway city with a high percentage of foreign-born residents. The successive waves of immigrants coming to Lawrence to work in the mills began with the Irish, followed by the French Canadians, Englishmen, and Germans in the late 1800s. Around the turn of the century and early 1900s, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Syrians began arriving. The wave of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans started in the mid to late 1900s, and the newest arrivals have originated from Vietnam and Cambodia. The current population of roughly 70,000 is largely Hispanic and has given a Latino slant to the local economy and culture.Lawrence sounds like a great place, but the problem for Eddie is that most of his allies in these language wars use towns like Lawrence and neighborhoods like Nolensville Road as Exhibit A in what is wrong with America.
See related story: Eddie V. Garcia: the Hispanic Nashvillian who writes and fights for ProEnglish