“ANNABELLA,” my mother decided to yell at that very minute. She didn’t even give me time to pack, and now she yells at me for not bringing my toothbrush. It’s not my fault!
“You should have brought your toothbrush, why weren’t you thinking? I swear, sometimes I think you’re a bit brainless…”
“I’m sorry mother.”
It figures, only she would freak out about toothbrushes while were in the steerage of a ship. I didn’t even want to go to America! But of course, why care about Annabella De Luca’s opinion?
I’m sure everyone in my family knew that Rome was where my heart was, but it’s not like they cared. My friends told me when they got to America they experienced the best feeling in their lives, but shortly after arriving, they told me how horrid it was.
A tap on my shoulder snapped me out of my trance. It was my younger brother, he was only six and he was one of the most adorable kids you would ever meet. I loved him to pieces and we were the closest in the family.
I have 6 brothers and sisters. That’s right, there are seven of us, not including my parents, of course. Wondering when I was born? Guess what, I’m right smack dab in the middle of my brothers and sisters. Wow. I’m so lucky. Not. So my family goes like this, First there’s my father at age 45, then my mother at 43, my brother Gustavo, the first born, at age 19, my sister Emilia was 17, My brother Paolo was 16, then there’s me at 14, followed by Lorella at 10, Lucia at 7 and Leo at six. Interesting family, huh?
“Annie,” he said, smiling at me.
“Yes Le-le,” I said right back to him.
“How long is this trip?”
Well, we had just got on the boat, so I figured a long time. But my mom said it would be good for a “nice Catholic family to bond this way.” Her words, not mine.
“I don’t know Lee, we’ll see.”
“Okay Annie,” he said, running off to play with other kids.
She also said we were running away. From what, I don’t know, but she wanted to be free and hide from something… or someone.
Two and a half weeks later nothing really happened on our journey of 1901. I talked to a boy, he seemed nice, but again I lost him in the sea of people.
A day later I saw the Statue of Liberty coming up, oh yay, we’re here, because this place is EXACTLY where I wanted to go. I cant help the sarcasm, I was brought up with 2 older brothers...
Then we started the extremely long process of getting people out of the boat, then getting them through Ellis Island. When it was our tour, we waited for a long time, and my brothers and sisters and I got to run up some stairs! That was fun.
After running up the stairs, they did various tests to see if we were healthy. My sisters and I were, but I didn’t know if my brothers were, they separated us. I hope we get to see them again, I didn’t even say goodbye!
We were taken to a long line of people and once we got to the front, we were asked so many questions. I told them all they asked, but I hope they didn’t shorten my name like they did for a girl named Constantine that I saw.
When that was over they made us change our money to some weird green thing with a guy’s face on it. It was called a “dollar,” pretty strange, huh?
My family was partially gifted, we were all able to speak Italian, but we were also taught English. I, for one, still thought English was confusing, but I tried and I could speak it pretty well.
We finally finished with our painfully long emigration process, we were finally in America. Our family wasn’t loaded rich, but we had so much more money then the average immigrant. Because of this, and the fact that we spoke English, we moved to the suburbs. We had a nice house, but like I said, Rome will always be my home.
The people we met were also nice, they helped us out by telling us about everything, but there were still some people that really hated us just because we were Italian. Someone even called the police because they thought we were in the mafia.
I almost had to work in a sweatshop with my sisters, well, besides Lucia and Lorella; they were both too young to work like everyone else, but since we were in the suburbs, we didn't have to commute.