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Friday, October 28, 2011

Lady Liberty

Today marks 125 years since the Statue of Liberty was unveiled.

According to the October 28, 1886 edition of the New York Times: “All day yesterday people came to the city in droves to participate in to-day’s celebration. Extra heavily loaded trains, much behind schedule time, were the rule on every railroad entering the city. Every hotel was crowded to its utmost capacity last night, and there was hardly one of the better known hotels which did not have to turn away hundreds of would be guests.”

She's always held a special place in my heart. Although I only visited her once, for most of my life I drove past her on my way into the city. If you look up from my parents' grave site there she stands.

Next May marks the 100th anniversary of my father's side of the family first arriving on Ellis Island. My grandfather was ten years old when he hit the shores of New York City. The first thing they did was change the "i" in his last name to an "e." Then they Americanized his first name from Gaetano to Tom.

My grandfather's first job was working in his parent's store. Then at 17 he became a chauffeur. For the rest of his life he worked for the MTA. When my father passed, I was going through papers and found my grandfather's past in a trunk. Besides all his unpatented inventions, unpublished short stories and screenplays, I found a letter of accommodation from the MTA.

My grandfather had saved someone's life by jumping from the platform onto the live subway tracks to rescue a man who had fallen. He never told me about his feat, but I do remember him telling me, "If you ever fall on the subway tracks make sure you lie flat in the middle of the two rails and face the direction of the oncoming train...if you don't, your clothes will billow from the wind and get stuck under the train and you will be dragged to your death." I would look at him like he was crazy, but the one time I almost fell onto the subway tracks after I passed out from the heat, that was the first thing that came into my mind.

For next year's 100th anniversary whoever is left from my father's side of the family plan to meet on Ellis Island. I want to be there.

"Lady Liberty, lend a hand to me..."


  1. Thanks for the reminder Elena. I have only driven past, but the Mrs. has enjoyed visits with her family for many years.

  2. That's pretty special. I hope you are there next year, too.