Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From the New York Islands: For Better or For Wurst

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty sits on Liberty Island and that, together with Ellis Island, the two comprise one national park? They are just a ferry ride apart. Provided you have sea legs and iron clad innards, it's really a lovely ride.

Oh, I think I made too much of my very mild motion sickness in my last post. I really was fine.  The water was calm and the sun was shining and no middle schooler or their parents were complaining about a thing, so all was peachy-keen.  (Anyone remember that phrase from the 80's?) 

Upon reaching Ellis Island, we sort of moved as a herd with the masses through the museum . Rather symbolic, huh?

First stop: the bathroom.  Would you imagine that a place that once registered all those immigrants at the rate of up to 10,000 people a day might have a ladies' room with more than two stalls in it? 

Me too. 

Two stalls. Twenty ladies in the queue out the door. You do the math. This was after breakfast, a 3.5 hour car ride from home, some coffee, a hearty bag lunch,some water, and a long walk to the ferry. And then the ferry ride itself.

A mighty short venture compared to the one all our ancestors endured from other continents. But still, when you're a woman of my age, having birthed quads (not all at  once, but might as well have), you stay on the lookout for signs that feature a silhouette wearing a dress.

Anyway, enough about continents and incontinence;  shall I show a few pictures? Some of you actually asked to see more.

Really?  You want to see more of someone else's "vacation" pictures? Well, okay, then.

The inside of Ellis Island was much prettier than I'd expected.  Arched windows, grand chandeliers, lots of marble.  Somewhat museum-a-fied over the years, but the original "good bones" are there.

My son was "registering"  by answering questions about his health, age, mental acuity, work skills, gender and marital status, and willingness to work.  He correctly checked that he was healthy, of sound mind (debatable at times), able to build railroads (I'm just making that up), willing to work, and single. Unfortunately, he had accidentally checked that he was a 12 year old GIRL, so was immediately rejected for both employment and housing without a parent.

Had he checked that he was male over 18 and married, he might not have been deported.

Had he checked that he was single over 18, meeting a girlfriend here, he would have been required to marry her before leaving the island.

Depending on the girlfriend options, he might have chosen deportation.

Who knows how many couples got hitched here without getting to know each other better--or first?
Desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say.

He says he's glad he didn't have to worry about any of that. Being in a foreign country, jobless, homeless, and quickly saying "I do" in exchange for liberty was an idea he'd never had to entertain before.

Oh, the freedoms we all take for granted.

Sample menu: we told him with his Polish-German heritage, he would probably have chosen kielbasa
or wurst.

Faces upon seeing loved ones again for the first time in a very long time. Look at the little boy saluting on the front row.

Beauty now...

Not the same experience then...

We had to push through crowds. Couldn't stop too long at any one place. Acutely aware of the many languages I heard being spoken around me, though unable to understand any.  Hot. Hungry. Trying to keep an eye on the leader. Afraid of getting lost in the shuffle.

Again, mighty symbolic experience.

Next up: Statue of Liberty ...


Lea said...

I've been to Ellis Island and it was such a neat experience for sure. What a special treat for these kiddos (and their chaperones). So glad you made the ferry ride okay. Motion sickness is the WORST!!!

Terri D. said...

Loved the post and the photos! I would have opted for a little help from Depends!! Oh my, I hate those long lines at the ladies restroom when you really, really, really have to go!!

Preeti Harris said...

I could say Kielbasa or Wurst. Still laughing :-)