A Story by Will Jones
Standing in the Reception Room in the big brick building on Ellis Island where millions of immigrants first arrived in America, it was easy to visualize the wooden benches lined with hopeful people of every age and nationality, and to hear the din of a dozen languages echoing off the plaster walls and tile ceiling. In 1926, my mother, then six years old, her mother and three siblings were among those hopefuls.
After a long trip in steerage, they arrived from Scotland on the USS California to join my grandfather who had come to the states in 1923 to work on the railroad in Philadelphia until he sent enough money home for his family to follow him. My grandmother, already thirty-seven and desperately seasick for the entire trip, bore two more children and lived to be one-hundred-and-four.
My wife and I visited Liberty Island and Ellis Island on a recent trip to New York to see some Broadway shows and visit with family. The Big Apple was kind to us, especially gracing us with spectacular spring weather which led to lazy strolls in Central Park under full sunshine and an amazing canopy of new green leaves. And, biggest miracle of all, no humidity!
From New York we traveled to Boston to visit our son and daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, Saskia, our first grandchild. For a full five days we were enchanted by her beauty and her emerging personality. I think I learned more about love from watching her and interacting with her in those five days than I’ll ever be able to teach her.
I looked for traces of her great grandmother and her great great grandmother, who made that perilous and courageous journey eighty-six years ago, and I think I saw them in Saskia’s eyes, those windows to the soul that told me this baby, who neither of them will ever see, was worthy of their sacrifice. God bless America. God bless Saskia and her wonderful parents, Devin and Sarah. God bless us all.
photo by will jones