The Tales of Finlay Macleod

December 16, 2010
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September 5th 1888
Dear journal,
I was finally safe and free from religious persecution. Back in Glasgow, Scotland the Jewish people were getting mistreated and some even killed. My parents told me to seek asylum and go to America. I heard many rumors like tales of gold, plentiful food, farmland, and many jobs with good pay. My whole family was farmers and we worked to hard all day and got little pay or crops. So off I went, packed my bags and headed for the docks in Glasgow. All I had was my suitcase, a fez, family photos, and the equivalent of twenty five American dollars in British pounds. Plus my second class ticket.

It was a long journey, although I was luckier then most because I had a dormitory with one cot port side and a shared bathroom with two other people. I tried to stay on deck as much as I could but it was so crowded. I liked like a lot of the farmers on board with the same with the big goatee and no mustache look with a plaid flannel shirt. The food was terrible sloppy mush served to everybody. I eventually became homesick missing my family and the farms in Scotland. But soon the calm laid back journey turned into a nightmare. During the seventh night we were caught in the mists of a huge storm. With waves up to fifteen feet high and gusts of wind up to seventy five miles per hour. Nobody was aloud on deck. One of the boats engines were having problems and not working very well. It was awful.

Through the horrible mess I made a friend. She was beautiful. Her name was Gertrude. She was lovely, and was in the dormitory two down from me on the right side. The way we met was while we were walking out of our rooms to go to breakfast. She must have not have seen me and bumped into me. I picked up her handbag and her broach that fell off and we just started in a long and deep conversation. She told me about her family back in Scotland and how she used to milk the cows. She lived in a town about twenty minutes from Edinburgh. She left because her family was also dealing with religious persecution. After one forenoon I woke up and saw a glimpse of the New York harbor. I could also see the statue of liberty it was beautiful.

When our ship docked all of the passengers had to be checked at the Castle Garden. We were all greenhorns this would be a very different experience. I was very worried because I didn’t now anybody accept Gertrude and how easy it would be to get a job. We both decided that we would try and get sent to the same farm where we both could work as farmhands. My specialty was caring and cleansing the animals. In the Castle Garden the men were separated from the woman. The Americans had no manners pushing us around and treating us like swine. It was awful children were crying and almost definitely some family’s would be split up with some members being deported.

We took our clothing of except our under garments and checked for disease, rashes, deformities, and mental illness. Some people were getting marked with chalk with different letters and being sent to rooms. Luckily I was passed and sent to questioning. As I waited for Gertrude to come out I sensed something was wrong. I went to one of the questioning rooms outside of the inspecting room and saw her in a line crying. I approached her and asked her what had happened to her. She told me that the doctors had found a rash on her and said that it was contagious. So now she was waiting to talk to the judges to argue why she should not be deported. I offered to represent her in her case. We waited for about and hour until Gertrude was called up to defend her. I went up to the judges and pleaded with them to let her be approved to be let free into America. In addition, I said the rash was probably caused by lack of hygiene. I couldn’t say anything else until uncontrollably I yelled “I love her and it would break my heart if I couldn’t be with her.” The judges gathered around and agreed that the doctors would re inspect her and tell if the rash was contagious or not.

After inspecting the rash the doctors agreed that it was only chafing from having to tight clothing. They were extremely sorry for our conveyance. I was so happy and overjoyed I ran up to Gertrude and kissed her. After the whole commotion we were questioned with things like how much money we had, date of birth, hometown and country, language, occupation, and blood type. It was rigorous and seemed to go on for days. Finally we were both approved and let into the streets of New York. First we visited and saw Broadway with the many telegraph wires going down the long boulevard. After a couple of days with the last of our money we took a train to Albany. This is where we applied for farming jobs at many local farms and ranches. After two days a farm called Stanley Farm took us in as farmhands. They were impressed with our knowledge of animals and farm tending.

The salary was three times as much back in Scotland. Gertrude and I were so happy nothing could be better. Although it was hard for the Americans to understand us sometimes we got by and became friendly with them and their children.

On July of 1893 Gertrude and I were married at the synagogue. We later had three children and opened their on farm thanks to the Stanley family.





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