ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Politics and Social Issues»
  • North America Political & Social Issues

Imagine That Life - An Early Immigrant Family

Updated on March 6, 2017
Imagine seeing this site for the first time coming out of the fog.
Imagine seeing this site for the first time coming out of the fog.

Go back in time.

Imagine That Life

I have tried to imagine what it must be like to live in an area where you have almost no contact with the living world. With TV and the Internet as popular as it is today, it is really hard to imagine that there are places like that. But, in reality, there are places like that even today. If you go back 100+ years there was a time when the only thing you knew about other places, countries or territories was what you heard through word of mouth. Most people, when traveling, could only expect what they had heard. The following is a little of what I imagined it would be like.

I know my dad was raised in the country and hated having to deal with the cities. When I got married in 1964 he actually flew from Colorado to California for the wedding. I have always cherished the fact that he did that for me. I realize that it was a very hard thing for him to do. Ever since that time I have wondered what it must have been like for my ancestors when they came over to this country, not having any idea what they were actually coming to and what life would be like when they arrived. Then when I read Slusterbubble’s hub and watched the video, I had to write about how I imagined how it could have been. I am writing about a medium scenario. I know there were some that had it a lot harder and some that even had it easier. I am assuming that this is about how it may have gone for my ancestors.

But, what I am going to talk about is back around 1900 and before. I was reading a hub about Ellis Island by Slusterbubble. He told about the history of Oyster Island, which later became Ellis Island. Then the video showed and explained even more. You need to check out the hub.

What this made me do is imagine what it must have been like back then.

Can you imagine living in the desolate country in France or Italy or any European country back in those times, around the 1900’s? This is a time when there was famine, factories closing and so many people out of work that even if you were a farmer, no one could even afford to buy the food you grew. You have no idea of what it’s like to be grouped together with probably more than 10 people at one time. Chances are that you have never seen a building more than two stories tall, except maybe a church or cathedral. You probably have never seen an ocean or a boat bigger than your row boat that you use to go fishing in a nearby lake.

Now you and your family decide that things are just getting to hard to exist, let alone survive, where you live. You pack up a few precious belongings that you need and something to always remind you of the home you are leaving behind and head off to a world that you have only heard stories about. You are going there to start a new life and hopefully more than just an existence. You have been told that where you are going is the land where dreams come true, The Land of Promise, The Land of Milk and Honey. These all sound so good and give you a reason to dream again. The place you are leaving has been so bad that you have even forgotten what dreams are. But now, with this new land in your head, there is a faint dream again.

You take the few things and your family and start heading for the port where you are going to book passage for the new land, America. As you walk along the dirt road you turn around and take one last look at the only place you have ever known as home. The place where some of your family members still live, that deep down, you know you will never see again. This all lies very heavy on your heart, but nothing is more important than getting you and your family to this new land, and taking your son away from a place where he could be taken away and forced as young as 14 years of age to go away in the military probably never to be seen again.

Just booking the passage for your family is going to take almost half of your life savings and the rest you have to protect with your life.

Then, when you get to the port, you see buildings that you could have never even imagined. Your eyes almost pop out of your head when you see all of those big, no they're huge, ships sitting there in the harbor. And you think that you must be in someone else’s nightmare when you see all of the strange looking machines and things in the streets. There weren’t very many at that time, but they were there, things you have never seen before.

You ask directions to wherever it is that you have to go in order to purchase your passage. You find what you need and you are directed to the ship that is going to be the home of your family for the next few days. The trip could last for anywhere from a week to a month.

Once on the ship you are directed to a small room several levels below deck where you find out that the four of you in your family are sharing this small room with a family of five. It’s going to be very crowded for the next few days but it will be worth it in order to get to this new land, The Land of Promise, Milk and Honey and all of those amazing things that you can only hope are really there. Actually, almost anything would be better than what you were leaving behind. But, at least it isn’t as bad as some of the stories you have heard about where some people were practically sleeping on top of each other because the shipping company would sell as many passages for the money as possible not caring about the passengers' welfare or safety.

Now, you’re on this ship that is definitely not a luxury liner, for several days. You and your family have met a lot of people and made some friends. You have exchanged stories about the new land and there are a lot of them, good and bad.

One day, early in the morning, you wake up and there is an announcement that the ship is just a few hours from the port of New York. The excitement starts to build and during those few hours you start pacing the three feet of space you have for your own. Maybe a little more than that, but after all this time, it seems like that was all the room you had the entire trip. It seemed to get smaller as time went by. More and more people start showing up on the deck as the ship gets closer to port.

It happens to be foggy this morning. Off to the sides of the ship there are signs of land but it can’t be seen very well due to the fog. Finally someone sees that first sight of the new land that is so welcoming and heartwarming that they have all heard so much about. A voice rings out that everyone can hear even over the excited chatter of the people and noise of the ship as that person yells, “There she is, The Statue of Liberty. What a beautiful lady”. As you look around, there isn’t a dry eye around, including yours. You can see so many dreams coming true along with yours. Then as she becomes clearer and clearer, then just beyond the beautiful lady was their final destination, Ellis Island.

As the ship continues on past The Statue of Liberty toward Ellis Island you see across the channel buildings that actually look like mountains with windows to you. As the ship pulled into port even FortGibson on Ellis Island was an awesome sight. To you, this looks like a city in itself because you have never seen one building so massive.

The ship gradually unloads and your family and you along with the friends that you have made on the trip gradually move along the deck like snails. You have to constantly check and make sure the family is still together. If anyone gets separated at this point, who knows how hard it will be to find them again, if at all. You all make it to the gang plank as a group. It’s amazing how anxious you all were to get here and now you are realizing brand new fears. There are fears and insecurities that you have never felt in your entire life.

There are people speaking languages you have never heard. And, it seems that the little bit of English that you spent so much time learning isn’t doing you a lot of good right now.

When you get down the gang plank you are directed to go to your right and to take your family with you. At this time you have no idea what is going to happen or what is going to be asked of you. You are directed to enter the big gathering hall with hundreds, possibly thousands, of others. This process could take a day, maybe two.

You try to be brave even though you are scared like you have never been before. You can see the fear in the faces of others and deep down hope no one can see your fear. Most of the new people have a fear of the officials and anyone in uniform because of the things they had to deal with and endure in their homelands.

There are some people that are being turned away for diseases and other reasons. You really don’t understand what these other reasons are and pray that none of them will cause your family to be separated. You had to convince the officials that you are there for your family and to make a home in the new land. You also have to show that you have at least $25.00 dollars for each member of the family. Luckily you have been able to hold on to the balance of your life savings and there was enough left to cover the requirements.

Now, you and your family are free to go. You catch a ferry that takes you across the channel to the city of NY. As you walk to the end of the docks and enter the streets of The Land of Hope. This has to be one of those moments that is not only breath taking, but one of the more important ones that "takes your breath away".

Now, here you stand with your family, having no idea where you are headed and there are a lot of signs with names of cities that you don’t even know how to say. But you are here and were able to make it with your family to this land that is going to be your home, somewhere, for the rest of your life.


Please feel free to comment and/or click feedbacks so that I have an idea of how I am doing.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 5 years ago from Corona, California.

      Thank you Lady. I was also touched when he did that. It was totally unexpected and as far as I know that was the only time he went that far this way. Greg

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 5 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for such an interesting story. It does take courage to immigrate to a different country and not know what lies ahead. I was particularly touched about the part of your father flying from Colorado to California to attend your wedding, even if going so far was beyond his comfort zone. Such love! Thank you again.

    • profile image

      Jane Holmes 5 years ago

      What a great hub! I've often tried to imagine what it must have been like for immigrants like the Pilgrims, etc, to sail away from their homeland toward a new life that they could only dream about. How difficult it must have been spending weeks or months on the open say, having no idea where they were really headed. It took a bushel of courage to even attempt such a feat! Great article!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 5 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Annie, I haven't traced my familie's history to Ellis Island, I have been working on a family tree that my late sister had started. However, my family came from Germany and I tried finding the town that my dad told me they came from in Germany. I found out that the town no longer exists, since WW2. I did take a trip to Europe a few years ago and drove through Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Western Germany. Even though the town my ancestors came from was in far Eastern Germany, I could feel something strange. Probably just my mind. It's amazing how many scars there are still showing on the landscape and buildings from the war. I can imagine the scars still in the minds of the people. I have also looked at the prison camps in the US for German citizens during WW2, similar to the ones for the Japanese. As far as I have found out, none of my family was ever detained. I am planning to write a hub about thet period. Greg

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 5 years ago from Spain

      Morgen Gregas - ganz ganz gut. Lovely story. Have you ever traced your family through the Ellis island archives? We have found both my family and my husband's family through the Ellis island archives. It was really amazing, and so touching. It really made me realize we are all part of history and we all shape the world we live in. My husband's US family visited us in Egypt two years ago, and they did not know their Egyptian family history at all. I just loved watching them wonder around getting lost in history, and there were many tears and amazing moments. They are coming back this year in September and we can't wait.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Ginger, Thank you. My grandparents from both sides came over from Germany around the time of my story. I just wish I would have been able to hear some of the srories from them. Greg

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 6 years ago

      I know my relatives did it; thank you for opening my eyes on what an accomplishment it really was!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Parks, Thank you. This story put my immagination to work. Even though my grandparents on both sides came here from Germany, I had never heard any of my family talk about it. I wish I could have heard some of their stories. Greg

    • Parks McCants profile image

      Parks McCants 6 years ago from Eugene Oregon U.S.A.

      Thank you Gregas for sharing the journey of immigration to America.

      My family? England,Ireland,Norway,Russia.

      They sacrificed all for the opportunity of a new life in a foriegn land. Some with means and $, others... Banished from their homeland with little more than personal belongings and the will for a beter life.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Wetnose, Thank you for the visit and comment. I don't know if I would have been able to do that either. I had a hard time immagining what I did for this story. But, actually, I believe if we thought it would be better for our families, we would have taken the same chances. Greg

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 6 years ago from Alabama

      Terrific Hub. Brave, brave people back then. I doubt I'd be so brave. But people do what they gotta do. Glad I found this hub.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      HI Shanaya, I thank you for the visit and the comment, especially after reading some of your hubs. Greg

    • shanaya profile image

      shanaya 6 years ago from Living in my Own Dreams:)

      Hello Sir Greg! I must say it's such a Beautiful Imaginary World of your's. Very Well Written by You. Thanks for sharing.:)


      With lots of Respect

      From SHANAYA:)

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Amy, Thank you for the comment. I sure there are a lot of people that are glad your parents made the painful but important decision to make that move. Otherwise you may not be here to share your love, kindness and feelings with others. Thank you. Greg

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      This is a great hub and very well written. I can relate. My parents are Italian immigrants and they never talked much about the old country because the memories of leaving everything behind is too painful. I've always had so much respect for my parents for their courage and strength. Thans for sharing. Voted up :)

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Francisid, Thank you again. I am working on more. These kind of stories take a little longer than the poems and I am in the process of relocating from Calif. to Colo. There will be more. I have found that I really enjoy writing and the hubs have given be the oppertunity to share. Greg

    • profile image

      francisid 6 years ago

      i am really hoping for more hubs from you.i really liked's very open and real.keep it up!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Francisid, thank you for the comment. I'm glad it made you feel that way. That was the intent, to try and give the reader a feeling they were back in that time. I know I could feel it when I was writing the article. Again, thank you. Greg

    • profile image

      francisid 6 years ago

      i don't know how to feel while and after reading your did transport me somewhere else!

      great job!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Gypsy, Thank you so much for your comment and joining as a follower. Since joining the hubs I have found that I have more of an imagination than I ever thought. But, with this hub, it felt more real to me than my imagination. I am glad that your family made it safely, otherwise we may not have you and your outlook on life in your hubs. Again, thank you. Greg

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      I love this hub. It really hits home. My parents had to escape from their homeland Latvia just around WWII and wound up in exile in DP (displaced persons) camps in Germany. This was the fate of many Latvians and later they had their choice of which way to head. So in 1951 they arrived in N.Y. harbor and life started all over again for them in a strange country.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      hehe - very descriptive. And not that difficult to fix, either! Put in some good ones & then go for it!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 7 years ago from Corona, California.

      Nellie, I think I just need to change the batteries. Thank you. Greg

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank YOU, Greg - if I can encourage you it pleases me. The main thing I'd encourage would be to follow your own inner light. Listen to advice and then follow your light. I say that because I surely sense you have a strong inner light peeking out of your writings already. Don't mistrust or neglect it.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 7 years ago from Corona, California.

      Thank you Nellie, As I get more comfortable it really is fun. There was a time that I never thought I had it in me. Now my nephew tells me that I need to continue this story and tell about the lives after the family was here. Again, thank you for your your encouragement. I really respect you because I have read some of your writings and you are great.


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I like the way you let it be both as you imagine it but with a first-hand grasp of how it might have - or must have - been for those actually living it at the time. You really have a good style that I would expect to flourish and blossom even more as you keep on writing.

      IGood to hear how, though you were sort of tentative about the whole thing at first, still you just plunged on into it and got started. Then, finding it to your liking and having many things you wanted to set down for your family, as well as for your own edification, you became more and more enthusiastic about it - and now look how much you've accomplished in a relatively short time of writing!.

      It is really hard to NOT write once you get that "bug" and find that you CAN do what you never dreamed of doing. I'm eager to read more and watch your writing grow!

      Thanks for finding me so that I could know to come and "meet" you! Good going!

    • profile image

      JLSB 7 years ago

      You keep getting better and better at your writing. Keep up the good work.

    • libby101a profile image

      libby101a 7 years ago from KY

      Beautiful! You have a great imagination! Please keep writing!!!

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 7 years ago from Arizona

      This is awesome, a place I myself have never taken my own imagination to! I look forward to more. Thanks my friend for a wonderful and enjoyable eyeopening read!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 7 years ago from Corona, California.

      Sluster, thank you for the encouragement. Greg

    • slusterbubble profile image

      slusterbubble 7 years ago from Florida

      How you are doing ? This is amazing stuff, Greg ! You make us feel as if we're watching events unfold in front of us, the grave considerations that lead to them, and the actions that we too undoubtedly would have undertaken, had we been in a similar condition. Please go on with your story, and let us devour the continuing saga of your imagination ! Paul


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)