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Coming to America

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BC: Bibliography Ellis Island Photographs." Photograph. New York Public Library. Web. 12 Oct 2011. . Vintage postcard of Greenville, Pennsylvania -1914." Photograph. Swain Deborah. Web. 12 Oct 2011. . Washington's Headquarters, Morristown, N. J.." Photograph. Nichols Martin. Web. 12 Oct 2011. .

FC: Coming to America

1: The historical fiction of Elena Bianchetti and Nunzio Mele

3: April 1, 1914 I just bought a ticket for my journey to America. I will be departing for Ellis Island on May 1, 1914 at six in the morning. The ticket cost me close to 50 lire to stay on the middle deck. And although I will never tell my family, I was a little nervous because the man said the trip would take two weeks. I do not wish to be on a boat for that long with so many other people. It is silly because I am a twenty-one year old man and I should not be afraid or worried but it is a little intimidating moving across the world. However I cannot wait to visit my brother in the state called New Jersey, It has been too long since I have seen Michael. I am not sure of his occupation yet but in his letters he has told me that he has some ideas of where I can work so that I may earn my stay with him. I have to start packing all my things that I will bring to America with me. I cannot believe this day will be here so soon. Nunzio

5: April 2, 1914 My parents are telling me and my brothers that we are going to America. They are saying we are leaving in a month for a new life. Even though I was born in America and came to Italy when I was very young, I still consider myself Italian. I do not remember the United States at all because I lived there for such a short time. I grew up here and love it, but now my parents are telling me I am going back. I do not exactly know why but I am sad but also excited. I overheard my parents arguing about money problems. Maybe that is why we are going; to make more money in America. It sounds great and all but a 13 year old girl needs time to grow and mature where she was raised and this whole America thing is not helping. What about my friends? I am going to have to say goodbye forever. The boat leaves May 1, at 6 o’clock in the morning. I am nervous but happy. I have mixed feelings. I will be writing home on the boat. Elena

7: May 8, 1914 The captain said that today marks the middle of our trip and we should be there in another week. Now I am feeling very anxious, I am not sure if I will make it through the interview process. With my nerves aside, I am very excited to arrive in this new country. My hopes are still high even though the trip is very rigorous. It is always cold and wet and the boat smells bad because there are what seems to be over one thousand people also making this journey. It is so crowded and there is no privacy for when I would like to be alone. Everyone around me hopes that the boat just sink and end their pain, however I think of reuniting with my brother and that overcomes my misery. Sometimes the ship is not so bad. For example today I met this very nice family,I was making my way to the front of the boat when this little girl became separated from her mother. She started crying out and I looked around for someone that resembled her. She was becoming very upset and started crying in Italian. I looked around and realized I was the only one surrounding her that spoke Italian also. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she got lost from her mother. I learned her name is Elena Bianchetti and she was only thirteen years old making the trip with her parents. I took her to the front of the boat with me and it was not long before we found her parents. They were very kind people and they thanked me over and over for helping their daughter. They were so grateful. They give me hope that I will have a family of my own soon. I am very happy to be arriving in America in just a week. Nunzio

9: May 8, 1914 The boat is scary. My family and I have been on the boat for a week. I hate it! It is so crowded and cramped. There are so many people and I cannot stand it. And it smells horrible. The food is terrible and it rocks a lot so everyone is getting sea sick. It is a tough journey but everyone says it is going to be worth it. I really hope so. The worst was when I was walking along with my family and was holding my mother’s hand. All of a sudden our hands got separated and I got lost. I began to cry and panic. I was shouting "Mama" in Italian but nobody cared. I walked around trying to look for my family but it was no use. There were too many people and I was rather short for my age. As I was wondering around a big, Italian man came up to me and kneeled down. He talked to me and comforted me, then offered to help me find my family. I told him what they looked like and we searched the boat for about 30 minutes, finally we found them on the front of the boat looking for me. I hugged my mom and introduced the man I just met, Nunzio Mele. He was a very nice man. If it was not for him I would still be lost. My parents thanked him and they talked for a while and decided to treat him to dinner when we get to New York City. He accepted and he went his own way and we went ours. I am glad I have a new friend on the boat. Elena

11: May 16, 1914 Dear Mama, Two nights ago we approached America an it was the most beautiful sight I ever saw. We saw this big building made with lots of stone and the famous Statue of Liberty. She looked amazing after this long trip. Seeing her reassured me that I had made the right choice of coming to America, I knew that this country would be good for me and that I would become a successful young man here. New York City is so wonderful during the day but it looked spectacular that night we docked. I was so happy to be on land again, I have to admit I was getting very sick of all the rocking from the waves. I was nervous for the questions they were going to ask me because Michael had wrote me after he came to America and told me they were difficult interviews. They were pretty hard but I made it through! They asked me bizarre questions like how much money I had brought with me, if I am deformed, and if I have been to prison. They did ask me about Michael though. The men asked if I had any relatives here already and I told them that I was to live with my brother in New Jersey. They were interested about it and asked if I already had a job and I told them no, even though Michael had wrote me and told me that he thinks he knows of something that I can do to earn money. After the interview process a nice family I had met on the boat invited me to have dinner with them. A week prior to docking in America I had found their daughter and returned her to them after she became lost on the ship. We will be dining next week. Meeting this family makes me think of the family I hope to start in this great country. It also makes me think of the family I left at home. I miss all of you very much and I wish you all the best. I will continue to send all of you updates. Love you all, Nunzio

13: May 16, 1914 Dear Grandma, Two days ago we arrived in America. It was an amazing feeling for so many reasons. First, getting of that boat was the best feeling. Second, I am actually kind of excited to see how this experience will turn out. I hope it pays off like the people on the boat said it will. The first sight of land was a lifting feeling, but as we entered the harbor, the most recognized sight of my people was in front of me. It was the statue of liberty which gave me a feeling of peace to be in this new country. She was standing tall and lit up so brightly just like I imagined her to be. We docked on Ellis Island and got off the boat. Still crowded but solid ground felt good on my body. We waited in a huge room with everyone from the boat. We waited for hours as they called people to ask questions. When my parents were called I followed them and waited and listened what they were asking. They asked pretty general questions and they even asked about you. On the boat we met a really nice man named Nunzio. He is from Naples too. He helped me find momma after losing her on the boat. I was so scared but he was there for me. We are taking him out to dinner after this long process on this island. So far it is an alright move, but it could get better. I miss you grandma by the way. I hope you do not miss us too much and always write me and the family. Tell everyone I miss them and will be writing them too. Write you soon. Bye Grandma! Love, Elena

15: May 30, 1914 Dear Antonio, It has been two weeks since I have come to America and I like it here very much. I am now living Michael in some place called Morristown in the state of New Jersey. It is very nice here. The town is a nice place to live, much better than New York City. I share a house with my brother and I help him pay the rent because I have a job now. I work as a gardener, making lawns look nice. It is hard work, I am awake early in the morning and I do not come home until it is dark. I try not to complain though because it could be much; I could work in a sweatshop or factory operating dangerous machines for a low wage. I have some new friends now. On the boat coming to America I met this very nice family when I helped this little girl find her mother and father. They invited me to dinner last week for helping their daughter. Everyone in America seems kind, not at all what I had thought. Before arriving in America, I thought all the people I would meet would be very rude and harsh towards me because I would be new but everyone here is quite the opposite. The landscape is a lot more extravagant than I expected as well. Hopefully you can come visit one day and experience it all for yourself. Until then write to me about all that happens back home because I miss the family very much. Send my love to your parents and siblings. Love your cousin, Nunzio

17: May 28, 1914 Dear Natale, I miss you so much and everyone else at school, but you the most. You are always going to be my best friend and hopefully I will see you eventually in the future. This trip was something I was skeptical about and you remember how sad I was when I told you. It was a horrible boat ride that was crowded and smelly. Food was bad and everyone was sea sick. Waiting in Ellis Island was also terrible because it was just as crowded as the boat and still smelled bad. The only good thing so far was meeting a man named Nunzio Mele that helped me on the boat. I was lost and he helped me find Momma and Papa. We were so grateful so we bought him dinner here in the states. Now were living in a state called Pennsylvania. It is nice, but so much different than Italy. We are living in a tiny apartment above a pharmacy. It is cramped but cozy. It is in a nice little town near a lake with plenty of kids to talk to. My dad recently found a job at a job at a factory that makes furniture. He enjoys it and its good money considering what we were making in Italy. My mom is also involved in our town with some occasional work in a fabric store and volunteering. It is a steady life style and I am happy. I have met some kids at my new school but none of them are as good as you. I miss you Natale and I will write you every day. Love Your Best Friend, Elena

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  • By: Danielle N.
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  • Title: Coming to America
  • History Project
  • Tags: #history project #ellis island
  • Published: about 5 years ago

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