"Many immigrants had brought on board balls of yarn, leaving one end of the line with someone on land. As the ship slowly cleared the dock, the balls unwound amid the farewell shouts of women, and the fluttering of the handkerchiefs, and the infants held high. After the yarn ran out, the long strips remained airborne, sustained by the wind, long after those on land and those at sea had lost sight of each other. - Luciano De Crescenzo, "The Ball of Yarn"
"Oh God, I was sick. Everybody was sick. I don't even want to remember anything about that old boat. One night I prayed to God that it would go down because the waves were washing over it. I was that sick, I didn't care if it went down or not. And everybody else was the same way."- Bertha Devlin, an Irish immigrant in 1923
Step Two Seeing the Statue of Liberty The New Colossus Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 1886
"At Ellis Island there was nothing to do. You just had to sit around. You could walk up and down among the crowds and wait for the man to come with chewing gum or an apple, but you couldn' go anyplace…. Even prisoners go out into the yard. But we were kept in a place that was all enclosed. I could walk up and down, back and forth, and up and down, and back and forth. That was the extent of my exercise." Ettie Glaser, English, at Ellis Island in 1923, age 18
"They asked us questions. 'How much is two and one? How much is two and two?' But the next young girl, also from our city, went and they asked her, 'How do you wash stairs, from the top or from the bottom?' She says, 'I don't come to America to wash stairs.' -Pauline Notkoff, a Polish Jewish immigrant in1917
"The doctors and everybody else that were supposed to interrogate us were dressed in uniforms. That had terrible effect on me. We were scared of uniforms. I took us back to the Russian uniforms that we were running away from." -Katherine Beychok, a Russian Jewish immigrant in 1910
"My sister developed warts on the back of her hand so they put a chalk 'X' on the back of her coat. The Xs were put aside to see whether they had to be reexamined or deported. If they deported my sister we couldn't let her go. Where would she go if they deported her? Some kind man, I don't know who he was, told my sister to turn her coat around. She had a nice plush coat with a silk lining, and they turned her coat around. -Victoria Saifatti Fernández immigrant in 1916
"The nurses were there. 'Ladies in White' we used to call them. They were very nice. I mean, they talked to the children. They stroked their hair. And they touched their cheeks and held our hands. When they gave us milk, sometimes,maybe if there was a pretty child, some nurses would kiss the child on the cheek. They were really very nice. -Elizabeth Martin, a Hungarian immigrant in 1920 No one left Ellis Island if they were sick! (unless they were being deported back home)
"So when I came to Ellis Island, my gosh, there was something I'll never forget. The first impression - all kinds of nationalities. And the first meal we got - fish and milk, big pitchers of milk and white bread, the first time I saw white bread and butter. There was so much milk, and I drank it because we didn't have enough milk in my country. And I said, 'My God, we're going to have a good time here. We're going to have plenty to eat.'" -Marta Forman, Czechoslovakian, at Ellis Island in 1922 Deportation Will these guys get to stay?
"I saw this man coming forward and he was beautiful. I didn't know he was my father. Later on I realized why he looked so familiar to me. He looked exactly like I did. But that's when I met him for the first time. And I fell in love with him and he with me." Katherine Beychok, a Russian Jewish immigrant in 1910