My daughter’s 5th-grade class went on a field trip to Ellis Island today. My daughter insisted that I chaperone, so I was given the responsibility for seven girls (including my daughter).
We, of course, started our trip on the New Jersey side. I carpooled with another parent. Despite leaving 15 minutes before the school bus, we arrived too late to catch the 9 AM ferry. We got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on I-78 that caused our 90 minutes trip to take 150 minutes. We arrived just at the plank was pulled from the dock. We were in good company though since a lot of other parents were stuck in the same traffic.
I find it odd that we had to go through a security check very similar to the one you see at airports around the country. I even had to take my belt off. At least I got to keep my shoes on.
The girls were given an assignment sheet to complete, so we walked around looking for the information they needed before breaking for lunch. It’s fascinating the sort of questioning, and physical examination immigrants had to endure to gain entry to the United States. Things that we would not tolerate today. There were tests for mental health, financial status (so much about give me your poor), and physical disability. Fail the test, and the person was placed back on the next ship leaving for their homeland. Yikes! Imagine selling all your possessions, travelling weeks and months inside the no-windows cabin of a ship only to be told that you must go back. Some people,e could not bear it, and some jumped into the waters of the Hudson to their death.
I didn’t learn much, though. I was too distracted, making sure I didn’t lose my wondering flock. I think I'll have to make another trip back with the family.