View Full Version : An emigrant's story

June Pelo
01-12-05, 22:00
Although this man was a Polish emigrant, I think his experience could have happened to anyone. He emigrated in 1920 and was with his father when they landed at Ellis Island; he said:

"We landed at Ellis Island and we came off and we were cued up again and going through some process. And my father, while he was on the ship, had shaved himself with a straight razor and evidently cut his face. He had a tiny scar. It was just drying up, perhaps, and as he was in this line they put a white chalk mark on his lapel. We didn't know what the meaning of it was. He did see some people brush it off, wiping it off, but he didn't know what it was and he didn't want to do the wrong thing, so he didn't do anything. And as the line progressed at one point they pulled him out of the line without any explanation. And my mother started to plead and cry...they were only talking in English... until someone came by and spoke to us in Yiddish.. and said, 'It's all right. They've just taken him to have a health examination and he'll be all right.. You're safe here.' And so they put him in the hospital. He said he had a ball. He had the best foot they gave him and he didn't care whether it was kosher or non-kosher. He ate it because he was starved. And everything was fine."