Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Letter from Ellis Island

Dear Karl,

It has been about a year since we have last spoken. Which means it has been a year since you watched me leave our little town of Brevik, Norway. Ever since that day that we shared our last good-bye, you have been the only thing that has been on my mind. I remember our last day together like it happened yesterday. We both snuck out of our houses and we met at town hall. Then you took my hand and we walked around the docks. We both sat at the edge of the dock and we talked for hours about my upcoming journey to America. Every second of our conversation, I was memorizing every word and gesture that was made, so that I could etch this day in my mind forever. Nighttime cane quickly that day because before I knew it, it was time for me to go home. My heart was aching with sadness. Our good-bye was the hardest thing I have had to listen to since my parents decided that we were going to America to live the American Dream. The pain and sadness that I went through as you kissed me good-bye was unimaginable. I still remember taking one long final gaze in your eyes before I left. I cried all the way home. I even cried myself to sleep thinking about you.

Sleeping was hard that night, but I managed to fall asleep for a little while. It seemed like I had only gotten a few hours of sleep before my mother woke me up. She rushed me to get ready and we left in a hurry. I caught one last gaze at my house before we left for the docks. While we were walking, I was actually shocked that my family was not the only family that was leaving Norway. There must have been at least a dozen families that were walking. I have to say that getting on the boat was faster than the voyage. The voyage was terrible. We had to endure two weeks of no breathing room, no restrooms, and unbelievably cold temperatures. The worst part of the voyage was that I was always thinking about how I would never see you again.
The long journey came to an end when I caught a glimpse of the land that my father called “The Land of Opportunity.” We passed by a large statue called The Statue of Liberty. Instantaneously everyone started praying and cheering as we passed by this statue. Moments later, we were let off this boat. We were at this island with a building. It was nice to get off the boat, but then we were herded like cattle into the building. We were told to wait in line. I was not sure why we were waiting in line, but the answer was apparent when we were closer to the front of the line. Police officers were looking at us. This was a checkpoint! I was shocked to see that they were turning away people. I started to become anxious about them turning me away at the gate. I have to admit that I was secretly wishing that they would turn me away, so that I could return to Brevik and I could return to you again. My family was allowed through the checkpoint. As we were leaving the building, my mother took my hand as we were boarding a second boat. My mother’s loving gesture only caused me pain because it reminded me of you.

The reaction that the Americans had of immigrants coming to their country disgusted me. They did not like immigrants at all. They had laws about what we could or could not do! We also were sent to the worst areas of New York City. We had to live in tenements with three other families. It was a nightmare because there was only a small amount of space where we could sleep and there was no room for our belongings. Every night after we moved into the tenement, I started to pray about moving into a bigger home. Unfortunately, that would be impossible because we were not making a lot of money. Actually, making money was very difficult during that time because there was this corrupt politician named Boss Tweed and he was taking money from everyone! This man is a terrible man! He believes and in fact everyone believes that he is above the law! How can anyone just let him take money from the banks?

Well, so much for the American Dream. What my family believed would be a glorious life where we would be free and rich, turned out to be a life that was a million times worse than the one we lived in Norway! I cannot believe that anyone thinks that America was the “Land of Opportunity and Freedom!” The people who came here for opportunity are the ones that are living in tenements and not having equal lives that the American citizens have! I want to go back home to Brevik because at least I would be able to feel equal there.

Aside from my disappointment about the American Dream, Karl, I miss you so much. I want you to come here to America, so that we could be married and live a happy life together. We could have been married if I had never left. Hopefully my prayers will be answered and you will write me telling me that you are coming to America.

With Much Love,

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

writerfreak21231This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm
wow that was amazing! ur an awesome writer!!!! if anyone had time could you check out my new story called Terror out of this world: The whole story
Site Feedback