My Grandfather’s Ship
My grandfather often talked about arriving in America with five dollars in his pocket. I pictured the scene in my mind, the young Luigi standing on the deck of a ship pulling in to New York Harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty and taking a deep breath, removing the old wool cap from his head in respect. I could see the chaotic scene at Ellis Island, crowds of immigrants from many different countries, mothers whispering soft words in Italian, Polish, Swedish and a hundred other languages to soothe their frightened children. A lot of paperwork and then they all burst out into the streets of New York, ready to begin their new lives in America. I could see this scene like a movie in my mind, and it was so vivid to me then that it feels like a memory now, as if I were really there.
A few months ago, I went on the Ellis Island website and found the record of my grandfather’s arrival. Our family name was transcribed incorrectly, but the search engine’s “sounds like” option brought up the right record. It was quite thrilling to see my grandfather’s name and information in the ship manifest, to know the date of his arrival, and to know the name of the ship, the Duca degli Abruzzi, and to see a picture of the ship. I loved the picture so much, I ordered copies for my daughters and sister and nieces for Christmas. There were two different versions of picture, so I ordered both. I hope they will all keep their copies, and that children in future generations of the family will come across these, and look at the picture, and want to know a little more about their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, where we all came from and their family’s story.
My grandmother came from the same region of Italy as my grandfather, but she didn’t come through Ellis Island. She took a ship from Naples to Boston. I was able to find her records as well, and learn the name of her ship, the Canopic. Here’s a postcard from Cardcow.com showing that ship: