Ellyn Weiss

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My grandfather, Abraham Miller, came to this country from Romania in the early years of the 20th century. He bought a building in downtown Philadelphia to accommodate his wholesale china business. The building was in the historic part of Philadelphia, around the corner from Betsy Ross's house, but the whole area was pretty shabby in those days. It had two rough stone basements, one below the other, with a big lazy Susan running up to the main floor, perfect for his inventory. Abraham and my grandmother, Fanny, raised 5 children and gave shelter to many new immigrants between the wars. They called them the Greenies, which I thought was the name of some huge extended family until I learned years later that "greenie" was short for greenhorn. When my grandfather died in the 1960's, my family invited the Philadelphia Historical Society to view the building and they determined that it had been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the time before the Civil War. Many runaway slaves had come through those basements. I think that is a perfect American story.