June 14, 2011

Lexington, MA. April, 2009

Why Lexington when this is clearly the main hall at Ellis Island? Because this was a photo on display at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, part of an exhibit of Augustus F. Sherman’s Ellis Island photos that I visited with my pal Eileen. She and I each possess a great fascination and reverence for Ellis Island, the legend-filled entry point and processing center for thousands and thousands of immigrants to the US of A in the early 20th century. The first (and only) time I visited the actual Ellis Island was with my brother in 2003. We drove to Liberty State Park on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, caught the first boat, and arrived early before the crowds. Then (employing a trick I’d learned to access the Sistine Chapel) I avoided the main entrance on the lower level and raced immediately upstairs to the Great Hall. I was stunned being in that mythical room all alone. Well, not alone actually. The memories and spirits of those who’d passed through this “golden door” to a new life, all seemed to be there with me. Who had stood on this spot before? Where did they go from here? How scared were they? How excited to leave their past behind and begin anew? No wonder I got all teary and emotional. Brien and I later backtracked through the rest of the exhibits, fascinating all. But nothing could match my first solo moment in that great Great Hall.

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