Chapter V - America !
When land appeared on the sixteenth day after leaving the port of Naples, it was so fascinating to me that I wanted to shout for joy because now I was coming to the beautiful America. After a couple of hours we began to see the outline of the American shore and buildings. The Statue of Liberty with the light high in her hand was inviting us to come over.
On arriving in New York harbor a commission would board the ship to inspect the logs and to check on any mishaps or stowaways aboard the ship. As it happened, even with all the precautions taken by the officers of the ship, three cases of cholera occurred during the passage. I recall that the passengers had been asked to go to the back of the ship and three burlap bags containing the bodies were thrown into the sea from the front.
Consequently, the ship did not pass the inspection. The passengers were taken to Hoffman Island by boats and quarantined. Conditions at the island were deplorable. We were given one blanket and a pillow. The berths were without mattresses and the building was poorly heated. The links of the berth were poking into our bodies. Breakfast consisted of a cup of black coffee, one cold boiled egg and a piece of bread. Lunch was a bowl of soup. At night, every night, we had boiled spaghetti without any gravy. Every morning we had to be in line for a medical inspection.
On the fifth day the immigrants formed a commission to deliver a message to the authorities. The message stated that the passengers should be released or sent back to their country. The decision was effective for boats came to the island to bring the immigrants to Ellis Island, the point of disembarkation. There we had to pass another physical.
My brother did not pass the questioning because there were six people in the family and only one supporter. We were retained overnight so we could appear in court the next day.
That night we slept in the battery at Ellis Island. The food was excellent and in abundance. The dormitory was warm and the berths were of canvas and comfortable. That night I slept comfortably.
The courtroom was in the same building. After breakfast we were told to go sit in the courtroom and wait for our call. All this was very strange to me. I began to look around. I saw a very black woman with three small children. I had never seen a black person before. I was fascinated. The whole group seemed very beautiful. The lady seemed very refined and the children well behaved.
When my brother's name was called, he approached the judge's bench. He was asked how he intended to support his family. My brother told the judge in his own words since he could speak a little broken English. He said his sisters would not become a public charge because he could support them at first. Later they would be able to get jobs. Since Guiseppe (Joe) had lived and worked in America he had some proof for the judge. He handed the judge his excellent work record, a letter of reference from the Harvester farm equipment company and some pay envelopes showing good wages. This was evidence enough and we received the judge's approval.
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