I just got off our ship from Russia. I am Vaslov Nijinsky, and I decided to come to America when I was fired from my job at a famous bakery. When we landed, the first and second class passengers got to leave, but the steerage passengers had to go to Ellis Island. At Ellis Island we were checked for illness; luckily I was healthy. They also checked to see if we had enough money to get to our destination and to see if we were a threat to the U.S. After many inspections I made it through and got to leave Ellis Island. When I entered New York, I went to the train station, which was very crowded, and tried to figure out where I was going. Since I only spoke Russian, I had no idea what to do. Luckily, an official from the train station noticed how confused I was and took me to the train headed for New Jersey. When we reached New Jersey, I had a job lined out.
|"New York, here I come," I said to myself as I boarded the ship to the land of entire happiness. My name, Wilhelm Skoda, was written on a piece of paper with numbers attached to my clothes. I couldn't believe it; I was finally going to the great rich land of America. Me, a young male only nineteen years old, going alone. This would be my last chance to see my family in Austria. I left because I had a contract to work as a laborer for six months at $15 per month.
Finally, the big moment came, and other immigrants and I left for America. It took 11 days to arrive in New York. I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw the great lady of freedom. As 5,000 other immigrants and I left the boat, we grabbed our provisions and climbed many stairs leading to a building, where we would be asked questions and take exams for any kind of disease. I was afraid that I would not make it into America, since two out of ten would be deported to their homeland. I went into several rooms to be asked questions and be examined. It took several days for the federal regulators to go through everyone. At last I was allowed into America!
|I am waiting in line with my sister Heidi. We are in Altdorf, Switzerland. We are headed to the United States.
"Volkmar and Heidi Andreae, you're up next!"
As we got on the ship, I noticed the first class accommodations. How nice it would be to stay there.
"Keep moving! Third class stairs that way."
Eleven days later: "Oh, Volkmar! Do you hear the excitement?"
"Yes, Heidi, I do. I can't wait to get off this nasty, rat infested boat, " I said.
After the first and second class were off the boat, we were sent to Ellis Island. Nine hundred people left the boat and stepped on dry land. That was the first time I saw daylight in eleven days. Once I saw New York harbor, I instantly had no remorse for leaving Altdorf. The buildings reached as high as the sky! We were then led into a huge mansion size building. Thousands of people were gathered inside. We sat down and waited five hours. We were checked by people with cold metal objects. My sister was scared. We could not understand much English. Just then a man came up to us and gve us a banana each. I thought it was some kind of weapon, but he told us to eat it. Another man walked up with a letter from our father saying that I was to be a farmer, and Heidi a servant. I was so excited! We were free!