Although 2010 had many low points for me, I am happy to report that I have settled into my new home in downtown Manhattan -- in a lovely apartment building steps from the Hudson River Promenade. From my "front lawn", I have a sweeping view of New York Harbor, including a view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I snapped the photo, above, at dusk.
When life throws you a curve ball, it is easy to get caught up in sorrow, anger and regret. And truth be told, I have been felt my share of these emotions over the last few month. But as the dust settles, I mostly feel safe and secure. It has taken a terrible loss to remind me that I am self reliant, and I will be just fine.
As I peered at Ellis Island today, I was aware that another very self reliant woman, my great grandmother Condelia Cervone, departed from Naples 105 years ago today. Condelia, and her youngest son, Raphael, arrived in the Port of NY on Sunday, January 14th, 1906 aboard the SS Brasile. (The ship was owned and operated by the La Veloce Line. Click here for more information about the ship.) Ironically, her ship sailed past my "front lawn" as it made its way to Pier 64 on 34th Street, where the first and second class passengers disembarked. From there, Condelia and the other third class passengers were put on a ferry and brought to Ellis Island.
Once inside the complex, she and Raphael were directed to the registration unit in the Great Room. It was there that they were questioned by government officials, who determined they were eligible to land.
They subsequently underwent a medical examine, to determine if they were physically and mentally fit to stay. I have read that the entire process typically took 5 hours.
For some, the ordeal ended there. Condelia and Raphael were not so lucky. They were detained for another day until Gaetano Cervone (Condelia's oldest son) came to get them.
Neither Condelia, nor Raphael, are here to describe what the trip across the Atlantic (in January, in steerage) was like for them. I shutter to think, but there is no sense going there. Condelia's life was never easy, and at least this time, she was going to be reunited with her husband, who she had not seen in ten years.
I do wonder, though, what she was thinking as the ferry approached Ellis Island? Did she imagine that one day, her great granddaughter would have a view of the island from her front yard? Or that her great great grandson would celebrate his fourth birthday mesmerized by the barges on the river, and the tourist helicopters circling over the island?
Who knows? But one thing is for sure: Condelia did not come to New York for the boat ride. Clearly, she had far loftier intentions in mind.
Happy New Year Everyone and Happy Birthday Dillon!
According to The New York Tribune, it was raining in NYC on January 14, 1906. The forcast for Monday, the 15th of January, called for partly cloudy skies and brisk, north easterly winds. I wonder if Condelia and Raphael had winter coats?
I also found an adertisement in the paper (bottom of column 6) for the La Veloce Line, which indicated that SS Brasile would be departing for Naples and Genoa on January 20th. Cabins cost "$55 up". It took my great grandfather 10 years to save up enough money to buy 2 third class tickets for his wife and son.