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- Rebecca Rubin
- Louis Rubin
- Mama Rubin
- Benny Rubin
- Victor Rubin
- Sadie and Sophie Rubin
- Max Shepard
- Leonardo Rossi
- Leo Berg
- Jacob Rubin
- Fannie Rubin
- Ana Rubin
- Michael Rubin
- Josef Rubin
- Rose Krensky
- Miss Maloney
- Sarah Goldstein
- Lucy Valenti
- Gertie Lowenstein
Only in Rebecca and Ana
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Welcome to America
Rebecca squints through the fog, barely seeing the brick immigration building on Ellis island. Her Papa was there, meeting Uncle Jacob and his family. Rebecca was worried about her cousin Ana arriving safely ever since her Uncle sent a telegram a week ago saying they escaped Russia with great difficulty. Rebecca wonders if her cousin's illness was the 'great difficulty' her uncle mentioned. Rebecca felt sure that if Ana arrived safely, the two of them would be like sisters.
The wind scattered the fog away and Rebecca notices a small ferry boat heading for the docks. She asks her family, who were also waiting for Uncle Jacob's family, if they think Ana's on the ferry since they've been waiting for hours. Mama reminds Rebecca it takes a while to get through immigration and Grandpa shakes his head as he remembers when he had to go through immigration. He mentions praying that nobody thought he and his family looked sick and Sadie comments she thinks everyone would have looked sick after a two-week trip on a boat. Sophie sympathizes with her grandparents and they, along with Mama, tell the family about getting sent back if the officials thought one couldn't work. Rebecca recalls the stories she heard from Rose and her classmates and hopes Ana was well enough to climb the stairs at Ellis Island.Max paces around the walkway when he gets an idea to sing a song for when the family arrived. He suggests the song 'You're a Grand Old Flag' and Rebecca mentions she knows some of the words after hearing it at the candy store's phonograph. Victor teases Rebecca she buys one drink but stays at the shop for an hour to soak up the music. Max, Rebecca, and the twins start to sing and Rebecca hums to the tune when she doesn't know the words. She admired how Max made the song sound more exciting and gave it more rhythm by emphasizing certain words.
A loud horn blast whistles in the air and when the ferry pulls into the dock, Rebecca looks for the family. Rebecca spots her Papa, who went to the island to prove Uncle Jacob and his family had someone to help them settle, and Max signals everyone to sing. Rebecca sings with all her might, wondering if the immigration office would send Ana back to Russia by herself. Mama spots the rest of the family and Rebecca thinks how she would recognize her Uncle from anywhere as he looked like an older Papa. Rebecca sees her Aunt Fanya, her cousin Michael, and finally sees Ana. Rebecca thinks how her cousin looked nothing like she imagined with Ana's dirty, thin face.
Rebecca looks around for Joseph as Mama hugs Aunt Fanya. When Mama asks where Joseph was, Aunt Fanya cries in Yiddish that 'they' had taken away Joseph and she begins to sob. Uncle Jacob puts his arm around his wife and Ana cries into her mother's arm. Papa explains that Joseph fell on the ship on the way over and hurt his leg badly. Since he was limping through the inspection point the officials tagged him 'L' for 'Lame' and separated him from his family. Rebecca is surprised that after worrying so much about Ana, she didn't imagine anyone else in the family getting sick.
Papa, trying to sound hopeful, assures his brother that the Ellis Island doctors could treat Joseph and he would get better soon. Aunt Fanya begs Papa not to have the officials send Joseph back, and Papa assures them he'll go to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for help. Rebecca gives her cousin a handkerchief and assures her that Papa would help, though she knew it would be difficult to get Joseph through immigration.As the two families walk back home, they discuss with each other. Papa tells Jacob about horseless trolleys, Mama explains cooking on a gas stove to Fanya, Victor explains baseball to Michael, and the twins talk among themselves. Usually Rebecca was annoyed when her sisters left her out of the conversation, but now she had Ana. She tells Ana about the movies, and Rebecca thinks how happy she was to see her cousin arrived safely. Since now Ana had access to fresh foods, Ana would grow stronger.
When they arrive at Rebecca's apartment, they run into Mrs. Rossi's pet cat. Rebecca tells her cousin in English his name is Pasta and he preferred spaghetti over mice, but Ana tells her cousin she doesn't know all of the words. Before Rebecca could explain what she said, Mama announces everyone had to take a bath. As she prepares the water, Aunt Fanya is surprised to see hot water right from the faucet in the kitchen. The rest of the family go to a different room to have tea, but Rebecca decides to spend some time with Ana and offers to help with the baths. Ana unties her scarf and Rebecca is pleased to see her cousin had the same hair color as Rebecca did, the two already looking like twins.
As Ana strips all the way down to her slip, Ana explains in halting English they wore all of their clothes to have more packing room. Rebecca compliments Ana's English and asks where she learnt the language. Ana explains how in Russia she had a boarder who taught them and she proudly adds she learnt the language quickly. Mama looked at the pile of Russian peasant clothes doubtfully and Rebecca knew Ana's old clothes would mark her as a 'green horn', an insulting term for new immigrants.
Mama suggests that Fanya should replace all of their old clothes with American clothes. Aunt Fanya is horrified at the thought of throwing all her clothes away, but Mama explains the ship was probably riddled with lice. Rebecca says she has dresses for Ana since her twin sisters left Rebecca with twice the hand-me-downs, and adds she and Ana could dress like twins. Mama also explains to Fanya that she was an American and thus Fanya had to start by dressing like one. Ana begins to clean herself in the bucket of water and jokes the water in her tub was Ana soup. Rebecca laughs at her cousin's joke, impressed with her English.
She turns to her Aunt and tells her she will need an American name. Rebecca suggests the name Fannie and her Aunt enjoys her new American name. Aunt Fannie says she'll dress and speak American if she stayed, and tells Mama her plan that if Joseph couldn't make it into the States, then they would all go back to Russia together. Ana begins to cry and tells her mother they couldn't go back home as it was too far, Papa wouldn't find work, and Michael and Joseph would have to hide from the Tsar's soldiers. Aunt Fannie begins to cry as well and Mama tells her she's afraid there was no turning back for them. Rebecca gets a cold feeling in her stomach and wonders if Russia wasn't safe, how would Joseph survive if he was sent back alone?
Chapter Two: A Yiddish Mistake
Rebecca opens her eyes in bed and sees Ana sleeping next to her with Rebecca's nesting doll, Beckie, lying in between them. Rebecca tells her cousin to wake up as they had to go to school As Ana woke up, Rebecca tells her they could dress up alike as she pulled out matching skirts and sweaters. Rebecca assures her cousin that she would stay with her the whole time during school and tells her not to be nervous as she brushes her cousin's hair.
When the girls enter the kitchen, Mama comments they look like twins and Rebecca beams as Ana smiled shyly. The family prepares for breakfast and Mama comments they would set out another feather bed on the floor when Joseph would arrive and Rebecca thinks "If he comes." Aunt Fannie looks at the rolls and coffee and asks where the tea and soup was. Rebecca giggles as she explains to her aunt they didn't eat soup for breakfast and drank coffee instead of tea in America. Rebecca gives Ana a warm glass of coffee milk with sugar and Ana tries a sip. Ana smiles and tells her mother "America is land of milk and honey!"
As the family ate, someone knocked on the door and Papa opened it to find Mr. Rossi scowling. He tells Mr. Rubin he knew it was against the rules to take in boarders and Mr. Rubin calmly explains his brother's family was staying only until they could settle in on their own. Mr. Rossi grumbles he would give them a few days before reporting to the landlord and he leaves. Aunt Fannie asks where will they go and Uncle Jacob says he would start looking for a job so as to not cause trouble for his brother. Papa tells him to stay as long as necessary, saying he would talk to the landlord if the time comes. Rebecca calls Mr. Rossi a grouch under her breath, recalling how he would even gripe about Pasta not catching enough mice. She was a bit worried that Mr. Rossi could make Ana and her family leave again, and she didn't want to lose her new twin.
Mama gives the kids their lunch boxes as she tells Aunt Fannie she would go to the school with her to help register her kids, and she reminds her to bring their immigration papers. Uncle Jacob pats his son's head and beamed as he said the best thing in America was public schools everyone could attend. He hopes that Michael could go to school instead of working and when Papa pointed out Michael needed to be 14 to work, he explains Michael would have to if Joseph couldn't.
Papa reminds Mama not to let the school put Ana and Michael in a lower grade due to their English and Rebecca pleads with her mom to make sure Ana went to the same class as her. "Ana and I are going to be like a new pair of shoes - always together!" As they walk to school, Rebecca noticed her friend Rose walking by and she runs up to her to introduce Ana. Rose asks if Ana had ever gone to school and Ana explains her Papa taught her reading and figure numbers and she knew English. Rose tells Ana she would give her a piece of advice and tells her not to speak a single word of Yiddish at school. Ana is confused and asks what she meant by 'piece of advice'. Rose laughs and tells Rebecca she was going to have her hands full.
When they arrive at the school, Ana is impressed with the size of the school. Rebecca shows Ana where they put their stuff and she shares her hook with her. Mama and Aunt Fannie waited as the girls lined up in front of their teacher Miss Maloney. The teacher asks the girls to be quiet and when Rebecca puts her finger to her lips, Ana understands the message right away. Rebecca thought that Ana was smart and she would quickly catch on to the school routine.
Miss Maloney puts her hand on Ana's shoulder and asks who she is. Rebecca introduces Ana and tells her teacher she could help Ana if she stayed with her. Miss Maloney looked uncertain as she told Ana her parents had to register her at the office and she might need to go to a class for immigrants who didn't know English. Mama stepped forward as she introduced herself and Fannie, then explains they expected Ana to do fine in a regular class as long as Rebecca was close by to help. Ana declares to her teacher her name and assures her she could write in English. Miss Malony thinks for a moment before deciding she would give Ana a chance. But if it didn't work out, she would change classes. She tells Rebecca there mustn't be any unnecessary talking and she could only speak English to Ana or else she wouldn't learn. Rebecca promised to take care of Ana at school.Rebecca bubbled with excitement as she showed Ana where to put her lunch box, thinking how she would spend every day with Ana. After Miss Maloney checked if the student's hands, faces, and handkerchiefs were clean, she says they'll do arithmetic teaser to wake up their brains. Leo Berg passes out the blank paper and as he walked passed Ana, he smirked and called her Greenie. Rebecca fumed at Leo as Ana asked what a teaser was. Rebecca explains to Ana, but she still looked puzzled.
Miss Maloney begun the exercise and everyone was writing except for Ana. Rebecca tries to ignore Ana's questioning tap until she got stuck on a problem. She repeats to Ana what to do and when Ana still didn't understand, she decides to tell her in Yiddish. Rebecca only whispered three words before getting called on by the teacher. Rebecca tries to explain why she talked in Yiddish, but Miss Maloney told Rebecca only English was allowed as she put the dunce cap on her. Rebecca sits on the high stool in the corner, her face burning in shame. Leo snickers and soon the whole class was laughing. When Rebecca looked up, she saw Ana giggling and pointing at her cap and her heart sank. Only Rose looked at her with sympathy.
During lunch, Rebecca could hardly eat, still sad her cousin laughed at her. When Ana started to complain the food Mama packed, saying in Russia they ate bagels when someone died, Rebecca runs out of patience and tells Ana not to be superstitious. She considers that Ana thought it was bad luck to eat a bagel when Joseph was sick, but Rebecca was too angry to care. Ana didn't understand what superstitious meant, so she ate her bagel in silence.
Leo and his friends walk by, calling Ana a Yiddish talking Greenie. Rebecca teases them back, but Rose tells Rebecca to ignore them if she didn't want to get into any more trouble. Rebecca mutters to Rose that Ana laughed at her when she spoke Yiddish to help her. Rose explains to Rebecca that Ana didn't know what a dunce cap was. Ana asks what the thing she didn’t know was and Rose explains how the dunce cap was punishment for Rebecca for speaking Yiddish. Ana's eyes grow wide as she apologizes to Rebecca, explaining she didn't know about the cap. Rebecca forced a smile. She did want to be as close as twins with Ana, but she now realized it wasn't always going to be easy.
Ana sighs that school was difficult as she wasn't good at English. Rose tells Ana not to worry as when she first arrived, she didn't even know the alphabet and now English came as easily as Yiddish to her. Rose also adds that Miss Maloney didn't make Ana change her name. As the girls walked back to the classroom, Ana asked if they got different names at school. Rose explains how she was Rifka in Russia but on her first day of school, everyone called her Rose. Rose recalls how she was too afraid to tell her parents about her new name and they found out when they got a note from school using the name Rose. Rose's mother got very mad at her new name and now at home she was Rifka while at school she was Rose. Ana shook her head and commented she would not like to have two names. As the girls take their seats, Rebecca wondered if it was wrong to give someone an American name. She thought about Aunt Fannie, Grandpa, and Max all going by American names, and decides that the names were only wrong when it wasn't the person's choice.
Miss Maloney gets the class' attention and announces their class was chosen to present the morning assembly on Friday. They would be reciting poems as a celebration for their new flag. She asks why there was a new flag and a student answers that Arizona and New Mexico became a state in 1912 and now there were 48 stars on the flag. Miss Maloney tells the class she would assign them a poem about the flag and she expected them to memorize it by Thursday.
A student asks if they could sing a song, but the teacher said there was no time to teach one. The class groaned as a few begged for a song. Miss Maloney thought for a moment before deciding a song would be a good ending for their program. She tells the class if they found a good patriotic song, she would consider it. She tells them she would hold an audition tomorrow to choose one singer. Rebecca found it exciting to sing on stage in front of the entire school and for the rest of the afternoon, she wondered what she would sing. She decided to learn more about the song Max sand when Ana's family arrived.
When school ended, the girls gathered together and discussed what they would sing. A girl mentions he would sing Yankee Doodle Dandy as it was very patriotic and Ana asks what they meant by patriotic. One girl explains "It means you love your country and would do anything to defend it." Ana looked confused as she explained she loved Russia, but never loved the Tsar and how her brothers won't fight in the Russian army. Rebecca says that Ana now loves America, but Ana says maybe someday if America would let her brother stay.
Ana asks how could immigration possibly send Joseph back to Russia just because of his leg and comments it wasn't right. Rebecca had to agree, thinking how there wouldn't have been a problem if he hurt his leg after landing in New York. However, Ana was here to stay in New York and Rebecca hoped that taking part in the assembly would help Ana fell more American.
Chapter Three: Music For A Song
The girls leave school together, but Rebecca kept walking straight when they passed the corner for home. Rebecca announces to Ana she was going shopping and Ana asks if she had the money. Rebecca jingles the four pennies she had in her sweater pocket, the money that she originally meant to use to treat Ana to a seltzer. But Rebecca figured as long as Mr. Rossi didn't cause any trouble, Ana would be with her for a long time.
Rebecca explains that she had to find the words and music for the song she wanted to sing for her audition. She tells Ana about Orchard Street and how she could buy anything there. The girls walk to the street arm in arm when they pass by Mr. Goldberg's candy shop Rebecca points out the shop to Ana and tells her he had the best egg creams and the best music. When Ana asks what was an egg cream, Rebecca explains it was a chocolate soda that didn't really have eggs or cream in it and she offers to buy one for Ana when she got her next allowance. She says egg creams were smooth and Ana repeats the word, confused about what she meant. Rebecca smiled, thinking how often her older sisters used the word, as she explained that smooth meant modern and wonderful all at once. Ana observes that America had a strange way of speaking and the two giggle.
They walked up to the tenement buildings in the Lower East Side. Ana stood still as she said "Is dark here. Not smooth." Rebecca tells her not to worry, but Ana isn't convinced. Horse-drawn carriages and horse droppings were in the streets, boys jostled each other and laughed loudly, and the girls had to squeeze past large crowds. Ana grips Rebecca's arm as a train on an elevated track roared by, and Ana asked if people really lived here. Rebecca explains how her Mama, Bubbie, and Grandpa lived here when they first arrived to America as the rent was cheap. She points out the window of the room where her Mama and Papa lived when they got married and had the twins and Victor. Rebecca thinks how happy she was that her family now lived blocks away from Lower East Side in their row house. Rebecca assures her cousin she wasn't going to live here, only shop here.As they reached Orchard Street, the two hear peddlers and shoppers bargaining and arguing. Ana lights up with pleasure when she hears Yiddish and Rebecca laughs as she explains practically everyone here spoke Yiddish. Ana asks what were the yellow things on a cart and Rebecca explains they were bananas. She asks if Ana ever had one and Ana shakes her head no, though Rebecca didn't stop to explain as she saw the music sheet peddler.
She asks the peddler for the song 'You're a Grand Old Flag' and he pulls out the sheet. He tells her it was her lucky day as he was selling it for ten cents. Rebecca gulps, but she knew that on one paid the asking price on Orchard Street and she recalls how her Bubbie bargained. Rebecca yells that a robber was trying to trick a little girl and he tells her he would bump the price down to seven cents. Rebecca asks if he thought she was a millionaire, trying to stall for time as she thought how she could get him to bump the price lower.
Ana asks Rebecca how much money she had and Rebecca whispers that she didn't have much. The peddler hears her every word and says for a talented singer he would give it away for a nickel. Rebecca looks at the music and says she would only pay two cents as there was a tear on the back cover.The peddler acts dramatic, asking her if she wanted his kids to starve, and Rebecca decides to act dramatic too.
Rebecca pulls out her handkerchief and sniffles into it, whimpering she could only spend three pennies. She hands the music back to the peddler and tells him she didn't have to sing at her assembly. She looks at him with sad eyes and starts to walk away, Ana patting her shoulder sympathetically. Rebecca winks at Ana as the peddler says he would give it to them for three cents, commenting he wouldn't eat this week. Rebecca beams and quickly paid the peddler as she grabbed the music.
She takes Ana to the banana peddler and tells him her friend has never eaten a banana before. She asks what they could get for a penny and he gives her two ripe bananas. Ana says "That's all? Only two for a whole penny?" in an insulted voice and Rebecca was amazed how quickly her cousin caught on. The peddler gives her two extra green bananas.
Rebecca pays the peddler and gives Ana a banana. Ana bit directly into the skin and Rebecca shows her cousin how to peel it. Ana takes a bite of the fruit and says it was wonderful and she got four bananas for the price of two. Rebecca grins and tells her the first rule of living in New York was to never pay the asking price. Ana laughs and says "We play game with peddlers. We are smooth!"
Chapter Four: Two Songbirds
Rebecca spent most of Monday night memorizing the words of the song, not wanting to forget the words during her audition. The next day, Rebecca was eager to go to school and she dressed quickly. She puts her doll Beckie into her pocket and whispers to it to give her luck. As Rebecca waited for a chance to sit on a chair at the breakfast table, her Pap and Uncle Jacob were talking to each other in rapid Yiddish. Jacob tells Papa he was having difficulty finding a job as no one wanted a cabinet maker or wanted to hire a new immigrant. He mentions a man told him he could try the garment factories as cutting a board was like cutting a cloth. Papa tells him he wouldn't want to work in a sweatshop as it wasn't healthy and the pay was terrible. Papa wishes his shoe store had more business so he could hire him, but Jacob tells his brother he had done enough for him and he was willing to take any job for a start.
Rebecca puts her music sheet inside her coat as she goes off to school with Ana. Ana tells Rebecca her Papa was looking for a job again today and Rebecca's Papa was going to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Ana's face grows pale as she says she was afraid her brother's infected leg wouldn't heal. Rebecca couldn't think of anything to say, but she knew her cousin was right; it didn't make sense that a hurt leg could keep a boy out of the country. Rebecca wonders if Joseph was too sick to enter America, how could he go back to Russia alone? Trying to take her mind off of Joseph, Rebecca thought about the audition; if just one person sang better than her, then she wouldn't get to sing in the assembly.
At school, after the class had recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Miss Maloney asks who would like to audition. Five students, including Rebecca, raise their hands. Two boys sing first and while they sung well, their song had nothing to do with the flag or America. Rebecca was next, and she ignored Leo when he stuck out his tongue at her. Rebecca pats her doll in her pocket for luck and begins to sing with a smile. She imitated how Max kept the rhythm of the song and the class started clapping along with her singing. Rebecca finished her song with a salute, but Miss Maloney simply thanks Rebecca and calls up Sarah to perform. Sarah sings 'Star Spangled Banner', but was off key on her ending, while Lucy sung 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'.
Rebecca's heart beat faster as Miss Maloney explained that the class seemed to vote who to sing with their clapping. She says that she liked the enthusiasm they had for Rebecca's song, so she decides Rebecca would sing the song as the grand finale. Miss Maloney picks up a stack of papers and explains that since there were forty-two students in the class, each poem would be recited by two students together. Rebecca squeezed her doll as she thought happily that she was going to sing for the school. She daydreams about her performance when Miss Maloney tells Rebecca to pay attention. She repeats to Rebecca that the poems were too hard for Ana and she didn't want to risk the chance of anybody messing up at the assembly, so she decided that Ana would sing with Rebecca.
Rebecca was speechless. She had worked hard to get a solo, yet now she would have to share it with her cousin. Rebecca immediately feels shame for her selfish thoughts, but Ana murmurs "You're a grend old fleg" as she reads the sheet music. Rebecca realizes that Ana could hardly pronounce the words and she thinks that if Ana would make a mistake during the performance, it would be so embarrassing. When Miss Maloney turned to write on the blackboard, Lucy passes Rebecca a note. Rebecca notices Lucy looked as if she was about to cry as she read "No fair! Ana doesn't even know the song. She shouldn't get to sing." Rebecca felt sorry for her friend and hoped she didn't blame her as she hid the note.
After some classwork, Miss Maloney takes the class up to the roof to exercise. As they reach the roof, the girls surround Rebecca and Ana. Rose tells Ana she was lucky as she had only been in school for two days yet was already going to sing at the assembly. Ana clasped her hands together nervously as she says she hoped she could learn 'fastly'. But she explains she wasn't worried as she knew Rebecca would teach her, and she gives her cousin a warm smile.
Ana goes off to try jump roping as Rebecca approached Lucy and Sarah. Rebecca explains it wasn't her fault Miss Maloney chose Ana to sing, but Lucy says it still wasn't fair as Ana could barely speak English. Sarah adds that the whole school would laugh at them if the performance was ruined by Ana and if Rebecca didn't do a good job of teaching Ana, it would be her fault.Rebecca was quiet on the way back home as Ana bubbled with excitement. Before they entire the apartment, Rebecca notices the curtains on Mr. Rossi's windows flap closed and wonders if she was spying to see if Ana's family had moved out yet. Ana races to Rebecca's flat and tells her Mama in Yiddish about the assembly. Aunt Fannie congratulates her, saying she was glad that Ana was happy in her new school. Rebecca tells Ana they should practice the song and tells her she was going to take her to the best place in the building.
Rebecca takes Ana to the roof and Ana is surprised to see pigeon cages. Rebecca explains they belonged to Mr. Rossi, but she enjoyed going up to the roof to see them. Rebecca feeds a pigeon and strokes him as she comments it was hard to believe that a grouchy guy like Mr. Rossi owned birds. Ana nods in agreement and takes the music sheet from Rebecca. She tells her cousin she was happy they were singing together and comments they would be like two song birds. Ana starts to sing and Rebecca thinks that Ana's singing sounded pretty. She thinks that if Ana could only learn how to pronounce the words, she would make a good singing partner. Rebecca tries to teach her cousin how to pronounce the words, but Ana couldn't remember it from one verse to the next. Whenever they sang the verses, Ana would either forget the words or mispronounce them. Rebecca thinks that if Ana couldn't sing the song properly, she and her class would get humiliated.
Michael opens the roof door and tells the two Mama wanted them to set the table. Ana asks her brother in Yiddish what he had heard about Joseph. Michael tells her their brother was still sick with a fever from his infected leg and the doctors were unsure if his leg would heal. He puts his hand on Ana's shoulder and Rebecca notices it was shaking. Rebecca asks angrily why did it matter if someone had an injured leg and Michael says that his Papa said every immigrant had to be able to work. Rebecca says that was ridiculous as Joseph was only 15 and could be taken care of by his family and in the future, he could get a desk job like a lawyer or a bank clerk. Michael shrugs and says it was the law and Rebecca declares it was a bad law.
Michael then tells them some good news: Uncle Jacob got a job cutting cloth for coats. Rebecca is shocked he was working at a sweatshop and Michael says it was only until a better job came along. He stood a bit straighter as he added that his Papa told the company he was 14 and he was going to get a job moving milk cans from the delivery cart to the warehouse. Rebecca asks what about his school, and Michael explains that since Joseph wasn't here, he had to help earn the money. He looks doubtful as he mentions he could go to school at nigh if he wasn't too tired. Rebecca asks herself mentally why were things going so wrong. Joseph still faced the possibility of being sent to Russia, Uncle Jacob would work in a sweatshop, and Michael was leaving school.
Mr. Rossi enters the roof with a bucket of birdseed and tells the kids to shoo. When he realizes Ana and Michael were still here, he tells them they were here for too long and he was going to tell the landlord about them. Victor appears behind Mr. Rossi and tells him that Uncle Jacob had just rented a tenement on Orchard Street and would be moving out next week. Fear fills Ana's eyes as she remembers Orchard Street and she turns to Rebecca. She cries to her that she didn't want to leave her as Rebecca was like a sister to her. Rebecca tries to hug her cousin, but she ran from the rooftop. Mr. Rossi tells the rest of them to get off the roof and they do so.
Chapter Five : A New Flag Waves
Rebecca tried to comfort Ana that night, but Ana cried herself to sleep. Rebecca tossed and turned in bed as she thought about Ana moving. She would have to go to a new school next week, and Rebecca remembered the fun they had being twins. Or at least it was fun until Miss Maloney wanted Ana to sing with her. Rebecca's stomach twisted at the thought of the performance.
The next day, Rebecca was too tired to talk and Ana still looked like she might cry again at any moment. Rebecca remained silent in school when the class headed into the auditorium for rehearsal. Miss Maloney reminds the class the performance was only two days away and they should all have their poems memorized by tomorrow. She adds that she expected everyone to recite their poems perfectly and with great feeling in respect for the flag. The rehearsal begun and as the others recited their poems, Rebecca fidgeted. She knew the song perfectly, but she could only hope that Ana wouldn't make any mistakes. When everyone had read their poems, Rebecca and Ana walked up to the stage as Miss Maloney begun to play on the piano. The girls sang and Rebecca tried to ignore her cousin's accent. When Rebecca boomed out the last two lines, she realized she was the only one singing. Ana had forgotten the words, and she gave Rebecca a look of panic before running off stage. The class groaned and Miss Maloney scolds them, saying the two were still learning the song. Rebecca felt angry, thinking she knew the song perfectly. It was just Ana that was ruining it.
After rehearsal, Rebecca found Ana alone in the classroom. Ana murmured that she would try harder and asks if Rebecca would help her. Rebecca couldn't answer, so she instead took her pencil to the pencil sharpener. She felt her classmates eyes on her and when she reached the sharpener, Sarah cornered her. She complains that Ana couldn't say the words correctly and Rebecca tells her to whisper unless she wanted Ana to hear. She states that she couldn't do anything as she wasn't making the mistakes. Sarah asks Rebecca not to let Ana ruin the assembly or else their class would be the laughing stock of the school. She suggests just telling Ana she couldn't sing with her. Gertie chimes in, saying that it would solve the entire problem. Miss Maloney would probably agree with the decision as she wanted the show to be perfect. Rebecca walked back to her desk, thinking how it would be her fault if the assembly was ruined. She wonders if she should tell Ana not to sing, but then gets an idea. Ana may not want to sing anymore after today's rehearsal. Maybe she would even be relieved not to have to worry about singing perfectly. As the class was dismissed for lunch though, Ana was hunched over the sheet music and Rebecca could hear her practicing the words.
Rebecca grabbed her lunch box and as she looked for Rose, she ran into Otto. He teased Rebecca, imitating Ana's accent. Rebecca fumed as she sat with Rose. Rebecca shares her worries and Rose points out that Ana was bound to make mistakes due to just learning the language. Rebecca feared that if the assembly was ruined because of Ana, everyone would be disappointed and never let her forget it. Rose looked doubtful, asking how long she thought people would remember the assembly. Rebecca guessed forever, recalling her embarrassment with the dunce cap. At that moment, she realized everyone, including herself, had forgotten that incident long ago. Rebecca tells Rose about Sarah's suggestion and asks her opinion. Rose asks how Rebecca would feel if she was Ana, and Rebecca states she wouldn't want to be embarrassed in front of the whole school. But for the rest of the day, Rebecca kept ton thinking about Rose's question. She already knew how she felt if Ana made mistakes, but how would Ana feel if told not to sing at the assembly?
As soon as Rebecca woke up on Friday, she felt nervous. Thursday's rehearsal had gone no better than before. Rebecca couldn't bear letting down her class. If she was going to tell Ana not to sing, she had to do it now. Ana had already left for breakfast, and Rebecca started to get dressed. She recalled Rose's question "How would you feel if you were Ana?" Curious, Rebecca looked into the mirror and imagined Ana telling her didn't sing well and she didn't want her to sing. Rebecca sat on the bed as a sudden wave of negative feelings washed over her. The hurt and humiliation felt much worse than her embarrassment when Ana messed up on stage. She knew if she was Ana, sh would never forget it if she was pushed out of the assembly.
At the breakfast table, Mama beamed over the two's matching outfits, but Ana didn't smile. Aunt Fannie gave the two a small American flag, explaining they were from Immigration when they first arrived, and they might bring luck to their singing. Rebecca thanked her Aunt and gave the flag a limp wave while Ana simply dropped it into her pocket. Grandpa stuck his head into the room, telling Papa he would managed the store today. Papa, Aunt Fannie, and Uncle Jacob were going to Ellis Island again. Joseph's fever had broken and the three were going to discuss with the immigration officials. Aunt Fannie suddenly sank into the chair, asking what if the immigration still wouldn't let Joseph in. Rebecca was certain it was wrong not to let Joseph in America just because his leg wasn't perfect, and now she realized it would be wrong not to let Ana sing just because her English wasn't perfect. Rebecca ran into her room and put her doll Beckie into her pocket, asking her to bring her good luck.As Rebecca and Ana walked to school, Ana faces Rebecca and tells her not to worry as she wouldn't sing and ruin the assembly. Rebecca stopped still and asked what Ana meant. She felt a shiver of shame and wondered how Ana knew. Ana says she heard Rebecca, Sarah, and Lucky talking on Wednesday. Rebecca admits she was worried, but now she really wanted Ana to sing with her. But Ana states it was too late and while she tried hard, things weren't always fair, like with Joseph. She then rushed ahead, leaving Rebecca alone. At school, Rebecca tried to remind Ana that they were like two songbirds, but Ana ignored her. As the class filed into the Auditorium, Sarah pulled Rebecca aside and asked if she told Ana. When Rebecca shook her head no, Sarah mouthed the words "Oh no!" Rebecca felt miserable. Everyone was unhappy with her and the show was ruined even before it started. Miss Maloney asked the class to form a line and Rebecca noticed Ana hadn't join the line to go on stage. She walked up to her cousin and ave her Beckie, explaining she brought her luck at the auditions, and now she would bring both of them good luck at the show. Ana held the doll closely, asking if she should sing. Rebecca says yes, adding Ana had the prettiest voice in class, and she leads her back to the line.
The class entered the stage and watched the auditorium fill up. As the class recited the poems, Rebecca wondered if the audience would hear every mistake they make and grows nervous. Soon it was time for the girls to sing and the two step forward. Rebecca tried to concentrate on her own singing. She barely noticed her cousin's accent and hoped the audience didn't notice it either. Ana's strong voice lifted Rebecca's and Rebecca's clear words carried Ana's. As they reached the last verse, the audience clapped in rhythm and the assembly felt alive with enthusiasm. As the piano struck the final chord, Ana pulled out her little American flag and waved it high. Surprised, Rebecca did the same and the audience cheered and applauded. The light s then dimmed and focused on the new flag. As everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Rebecca could still hear the sound of applause.
She and Ana had done it; they sung in front of the whole school and everything turned out fine. Rebecca thought she saw tears in Ana's eyes, but her face was lit with happiness. Rebecca held Ana's hand and asked why she waved her flag. Ana said she felt patriotic as she pointed to the back of the audience. Rebecca saw that at the back, Mama, Papa, Aunt Fannie, and Uncle Jacob were standing together. Along with them was a tall, lanky boy with a bandaged leg and a crutch. Rebecca waved her flag in his direction and Joseph pulled out an identical flag and waved in response.
Looking Back: School in 1914
Discusses the education and schooling of immigrants during the 1910s. Topics covered:
- The high regards immigrant parents gave to American schools and teachers, as many came from countries where education wasn't as easily obtainable.
- Immigrant children having to take special classes for the first four to five months before they were integrated into regular classrooms, often with those below their grade and age.
- The daily hygiene inspection, in which teachers would inspect their students to prevent the spread of illnesses, and how a child's head lice would be treated.
- The physical and breathing exercises children would partake in at school, most times in their classrooms or sometimes they would go outdoors.
- Ways teachers punished their students for misbehaving, such as hitting them or using dunce caps to shame them in front of their peers.
- Lessons immigrant children received from their teachers, whose jobs were to educate the students and turn them into Americans.
- The children that were sent to work in order to help their families, and the girls that stayed home to look after their younger siblings while their parents worked.
- Landlords that divided their row houses into flats in order to accommodate the newer immigrants, and the living conditions of tenement buildings.
- The changes in jobs and living conditions immigrants received over the years, and the appreciation many children had for their American teachers.