Join us as we journey across this great nation over the next year, attempting to delve into cultures and experience more than just the standard tourist. We will be renting homes via Airbnb and staying for extended periods of time; learning what it is about each city that makes it unique and sets it apart from others.
Friday, May 30, 2014
We played tourist big time in New York City, but does it
really count as being a tourist when you’re researching for family member names
on the walls at Ellis Island? Or does that make it more of a research mission?
I’m going with research mission, because I really dislike looking like a
tourist, especially when it means I feel like the cattle in a round up, being herded
through crowds of people, the pushing and shoving because they want to be one
person ahead of you. The boat was tough, the mass of tourists a little harder
to handle and I don’t know if it was because I have my New York hustle on already
or if I really just don’t like large groups of people, I’m going with hustle,
my New York hustle, this city really gets my need for speed walking, tourists,
not so much.
Taking the boat to Ellis Island was one of our “must do’s”
while here in NYC and a win-win because it also meant we got to throw in Lady
Liberty as well while out to sea. Lack
of planning on our part and not knowing that we needed to reserve crown view
tickets three months in advance only allowed us access to climb the stairs to the
pedestal, but still the views of the New York skyline were spectacular.
Looking out from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty
really doesn't do her justice. She looks small, it isn't until you are there,
clouded by her majestic shadow that you get the true experience and ambiance of
what she represents; Lady Liberty casts spirit and hope into those that set
eyes upon her. She is iconic Americana and I can only imagine what she meant to
those immigrating to America as she came into view from their ship decks,
after months at sea. The excitement and nerves bursting at the surface and then seeing her, having Lady Liberty as their anchor, a symbol of freedom and a new
beginning to life; she possess such iconic symbolism, so much greatness.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty was just the prelude to
exploring Ellis Island, experiencing a fraction of elation that the immigrants
must have felt before touching ground on Ellis Island, their first steps as
Americans. Today, 40% of Americans can trace an ancestors back to Ellis Island,
somebody that stepped foot here on this country before them, enduring the medical
and legal inspections before being sent on their way to their new beginning.
Tom’s great grandfather Salvatore Compagno came over from
Sicily on one of these boats with his family, including his grandfather Anthony Joseph Compagno as a young child; both of these men have their names engraved
on the walls of Ellis Island and searching them out was such a thrill. I only
wish I could have known these men, heard their stories and the experiences of
their great journey and their new start as Americans. It is something I wish
they would have written down, to read what they felt and endured to experience it
through their eyes would be such a great family history to carry down for
generations. If only they could have had blogs back then, sigh!
Salvatore Compagno, Tom's Great Grandfather
Anthony Joseph Compagno, Tom's Grandfather
Watching Tom search out names, taking pictures and looking
out over the wall was such a treat; I loved seeing him so excited to search out
these men’s names, to document them for his parents and siblings, it was so
worth the cattle round up and something I would happily do again, just to see
that smile of his!