from the Foreword | from
by Christine G.H. Franck
According to the American Dream, this nation offers opportunity
and success to anyone willing to work hard, regardless of
that person's birthplace or birth station. The story of José
"Joe" Allegue belongs in the annals of American
Dreams Fulfilled. In fact, it exceeds most accounts of personal
achievement. In realizing success in his adopted country as
an exceptional builder of fine homes, Allegue left a legacy
on the landscape, places where the dreams of succeeding generations
Between 1928 and 1968 Allegue worked in southwestern Long
Island building custom homes at a rate of about one home per
year. Allegue preferred to build a carefully designed and
crafted personalized home for a particular client rather than
churn out stock houses for anonymous clients. His is a story
of ascendancy from immigrant to a builder respected and beloved
by his clients. José Maria Allegue was born on a farm
in 1901 in the coastal Spanish village of La Coruņa, located
in the agricultural region of Galicia in northwest Spain.
The youngest son of a prominent family that included a mayor
of the village, Allegue was a creative and musical child who
played the piano and cornet in a local band. No doubt, he
developed a facility for working with his hands and a familiarity
with tools from spending his childhood on a farm.
At seventeen, as a youngest son seeking his own way in the
world, Allegue boarded the Bordeaux Nais and sailed for Cuba,
embarking on the first chapter of a long journey. Upon arriving
in Havana, Allegue joined a brother who allegedly had the
good fortune to have married a woman of the Feria family,
owners of a department store and the famous National Hotel.
Despite having a wealthy sister-in-law, Allegue took a job
in a local sugar mill.
While working at a sugar mill he fell ill when he contracted
malaria. He had tuberculosis as a child, and the effects of
it never left him: he was sickly throughout his life. To make
matters worse, while recovering, from his malaria in an Havana
hospital, Allegue was robbed of all of the money he had saved
from his work in the mill - money probably meant for passage
to America. Fortunately, he was able to borrow money for the
journey from his brother, and he booked passage on the Moro
Castle to New York, despite the lingering effects of the malaria.
In 1919, like so many other immigrants, Allegue sailed past
Liberty's torch and landed at Ellis Island. Still sickly,
he was denied entry in the cursory medical examination meant
to weed out the sick, weak, and unemployable. But fortune
smiled on Allegue again when a cousin who had been sent to
retrieve the new arrival recognized him, despite his infirmity,
and assured the authorities that he would care for him. Finally
cleared through Ellis Island into the land of opportunity,
Allegue opened the next chapter of his American Dream...
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