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Journey 1913 - 3

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  • Martin Votruba
    Below is another segment from a 43-year-old farmer s account of his immigration to America. Here he describes his first 5 days at sea. Although he was
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2007
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      Below is another segment from a 43-year-old farmer's account of his
      immigration to America. Here he describes his first 5 days at sea.
      Although he was originally booked for a faster crossing on the
      Provence, he eventually boarded the Touraine, which didn't dock at New
      York until Wednesday the following week.


      votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu

      x x x

      The Ship La Provence was sailing Saturday night, there were about 30
      of us who had Ship tickets for it. But they did not allow us on it,
      Because it was overcrowded, and they took only those who obtained
      tickets 5-6 days earlier, and so we had to wait till Monday.

      They told us to leave our quarters at about 10 AM. And we walked down
      the street and reached the harbor in about 20 minutes. Because there
      were about 800 of us, People pushed and everyone wanted to be in the
      front. We rushed to the Ship lest it sailed off without us like La
      Provence. And merely about a hundred steps, we were already there,
      but they didn't let us on it. It went slowly, they searched everyone
      making sure people didn't have [straight] Razors or Revolvers. It
      took about an hour and a half until we boarded the ship.

      It was about 11:30 AM when we sat down. And they didn't give us
      lunch, and no one asked us if we were hungry. They'd sent us away
      from the quarters in the morning so that they didn't need to give us
      lunch, and they gave us nothing on board the Ship again because we got
      there late. I didn't have a suitcase, only a cardboard box with
      paprika's~ [chicken in paprika cream sauce], about a half-pound, and I
      still had bread from Vienna. So I ate what I had.

      After lunch I walked out onto the 3rd-class deck and watched the small
      Ships as they sailed to and fro. And they were loading our Ship all
      the time, various foodstuffs until I was tired of hearing the rattle,
      I was quite muddled from all that noise and clanking. It was a hot
      day, the Sun was scorching, I was thirsty and beer was very expensive
      and there was no water. Oh, my thoughts went to the old country, oh,
      poor traveler me, it wasn't enough that I was unable to buy what I
      needed, like borovic~ka [juniper liquor, gin] and onion and vinegar,
      and heal my stomach with that, I was, moreover, bothered by my unclean
      shirt and dirty, sweaty pants. Something itched on occasion, which I
      thought was the sweat and dirt.

      It was not until at 2 after midnight that we set sail. The Horn
      howled until the Ship shook, and we started moving out of the harbor.
      It was already the beginning of August the 25th. And we saw small
      dark hills and Forests on the right and left at daybreak, but no sight
      of the harbor.

      And when we sailed the whole day Tuesday, and also the whole night
      Wednesday, and when it was morning again on Thursday, we were already
      sailing out of the Sea channel, and we'd already left the shores and
      mountains behind. As we sailed directly west, there was a high
      masonry Column on the Right, I thought perhaps to show Ocean
      boundaries at night, it was still suant sailing, but when Friday came,
      traveling became worse for us, Waves began to form somewhat.

      I looked at the wide ocean in puzzlement, it seemed to me as if there
      were villages or some towns at great distance, and it was the Ocean
      Waves instead. And when it was about 10 AM, we also saw large Fish as
      they threw themselves to the surface and jumped about the water 10-12
      ft, the way a dog would run on dry land, and they followed the Ship.
      In the afternoon there came stormy Wind, the air wasn't clear and it
      even rained. It started to rock us around 3! And poor me didn't have
      borovic~ka [juniper liquor, gin]. Because I didn't have it, I
      remained on deck III for days, from daybreak till 10 PM.

      It wasn't until that good Friend of mine gave me advice that I should
      not eat, and I did so, too. I only ate a little soup and smoked
      herring, I liked that. And a Hungarian acquaintance was around, who'd
      asked me to help her carry her baggage when we arrived in Le Havre!
      So she gave me onion with vinegar and I restored my appetite. We had
      a bitter night from Saturday to Sunday, because we were in the middle
      of the Ocean and Water always plays there! And when Saturday morning
      finally came, the ocean tossed us more and more, and there was a lot
      of throwing up inside the ship.
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