When Gerardo Gallegos was 18, he said he left Mexico looking for a more open, diverse society.
Everyone in his family advised him not to come to the U.S.
GERARDO: (But) coming to Chicago was tantamount to my life dream. A big city in America, are you kidding? The recent movement of the 1960’s - the explosion of freedoms for minorities, for everybody - it was an overwhelming wave of joy and freedom.
His dream was to learn a trade. He worked a lot of different jobs, starting as a busboy at the Hilton, and then working construction.
StoryCorps’s mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.
GERARDO: I had my little VW full of tools, running around Chicago going to different sites and asking people to give me the opportunity to learn a trade.
Eventually, he became a carpenter, and his work as a carpenter led him to June Finfer.
GERARDO: One of the first things that you told me when you opened up the door, you said, ‘Listen, my husband is very sick, and I would like to make things as easy as possible for him. I have a list of things I need you to do, and you’re going to listen to me, not to him.’
Gerardo became friends with the couple. To find out how that friendship later turned to love after Finfer’s husband died, listen to the audio above.