Arriving at Ellis Island, Esther’s grandparents were two amongst the throngs that swelled to 5000 newcomers a day. Ellis Island was their Plymouth Rock. The immigrants carried linens, embroidery, hand-forged scissors, sacred ornaments and religious objects, and sometimes they carried musical instruments.
Their strong faces staring forward, they waited in long lines to be examined by officials and doctors, and if they answered the questions correctly and vowed to take up arms to defend the United States constitution then they were given meals that contained strange and wonderful foods. White bread was to them a marvel; many had never seen a banana. They told each other stories: of what they had left behind, of their persecutions and their poverty. As they contemplated the conditions that compelled them to leave, those who believed in a God said that God’s great promise had been fulfilled. They imagined the unbelievable freedoms they hoped to find in America: land of the free, home of the brave. [(c) 2015 Sheridan Hill ]