My question was prompted by the repeat of the Roots miniseries. Here's some of what Mom wrote about her mother, Hermina Farkas Schwartz:
"I remember Mom telling us that some relative 'did her a favor' for $2.50 a week; she became a finisher on fine ties and worked about 12 hrs. a day and between her and her father [Moritz Farkas] they couldn't earn enough for the family; but she always said she had a good relationship with her father, which was a comfort to her all her life. She became a citizen on his papers (common then, not permitted now) and went to night school for awhile to learn to read and write [English]. She still figured in Hungarian, all her life, though.
"Mom wasn't permitted to do dishes or laundry when she worked because her hands would become too rough for the fine materials she handled; but there was a sewing machine and she did her share at home by sewing for the household. And after she was married she had the girls [her younger sisters] come one at a time to visit (and take care of my brother Fred after he was born) so she could make clothes for them to enable them to go to school here. She never forgot; but I don't ever remember anyone of her sisters mentioning this. I know her 2 bachelor brothers, Julius and Peter, had hard times and she always poured money into their hands when they needed things. Of course, when she and Pop [my grandfather, Theodore Schwartz] needed to open a new store, they gave generously also, I'll say that, too."