Tell us your immigration story
In our opening concert, “Immigrants and the Golden Age of Hollywood,” the ICO will perform Ellis Island: Dream of America. In this musical narrative, the stories of seven immigrants from the early 20th century are told. As we present this award-winning work, we realize everyone has a story (see example below). We are collecting stories from our ICO audience of those who emigrated to Indiana. If you are interested in participating by sharing your family’s story, tell us your immigration story* by answering the following questions:
*Some of your story may be shared on the ICO website blog and during the ICO performances on October 19 and 20, 2019. Stories may be edited for length and space considerations.
The following is an excerpt from one of the actors in Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island, serves as an example as you consider your own story:
Words of Lillian Galletta, born October 20, 1923
Emigrated from Italy, 1928, age 4-1/2; passage on the
President Wilson. Interviewed September 25, 1991, age 67.
My father spent most of his time going back and forth from Sicily to America, because there wasn’t enough work there for a carpenter. Practically all the Galletta family were master carpenters. And he’d come back and forth every couple of years. That’s why all my brothers and sisters are spaced two years apart—my mother became pregnant every time he came over. It became too burdensome for my father to keep coming back every couple of years. You know, that boat trip was no joke. Then my uncle told him one day that he should take the whole family back with him. My mother and father came with the two oldest children first. Then about a year later, the other five children followed. I was the youngest.
My uncle escorted the five of us to Palermo, and then we came to America from there. There were a lot of people, all class of people. Some just came with what they had on their backs. They didn’t even have baggage. When we hit the Strait of Gibraltar, there was this terrible storm that broke out. It lasted three days. The water was so rough that the waves almost capsized the ship. People were throwing up, and if you wanted to faint, there wasn’t room for them to faint. They couldn’t lie on the floor. There was no space. These old women were throwing their medals in the water and getting down on their knees and crying, just praying to God to calm the waters.
I remember New York Harbor. It was the most beautiful sight in the world because we didn’t die in that storm. We were alive. We made it. We were in America, a free country. We would be reunited with our parents. My father came to meet us at Ellis Island. I can see that almost vividly. We
were in this big room. And they call your name out. And when they called “Galletta,” [very moved] my father came running through the turnstile, and he squatted on his knees with his arms outstretched, and the five of us ran into his arms, and we were kissing and hugging. We were so happy to be together. He said, “We’re all together now. We’ll never be apart again.”