My great grandparents on both sides were immigrants in the early 20th century. My mother's family from Russia/Ukraine and my father's family from Spain and Italy. While they were from different regions of Europe and had very different cultural beliefs (Jewish and Catholic) they all came to America (through Ellis Island) with one common hope, that their lives here would be better here and that their children would have opportunities and a quality of life that would be impossible if they didn't immigrate.
My grandmother's family started out right on Orchard Street and eventually were successful enough to move to a better neighborhood in Brooklyn. There her brother, an NYC firefighter, introduced her to his friend, my eventual grandfather, Howie. He was older than her, smart, handsome and considered the neighborhood "catch".
As a token of his affection, he gave her the cigarette case above. On the back, is engraved "Norma love Howie." It has a mirror, room for cigarettes, and makeup. It was considered a very fine gift and a status symbol among my Grandma Norma's friends. More than that, it was a symbol of prosperity and a promise of the future. A future that would have to wait until his military service was complete and World War II was over.
They eventually married, had three children and moved to Long Island. My great grandmother could not be persuaded to leave Brooklyn but was so proud that she had a daughter who was living the American Dream.
– Michele Streck