• Immigrants awaiting inspection in front of Ellis Island's Main Building

    Ellis Island

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William Remembers the Storm


William Remembers the Storm (Transcript)

Interviewee: William Greiner
Date of Birth: July 18, 1912
Date of Interview: March 3, 1991
Interviewer: Paul E. Sigrist, Jr.
Immigrated from Italy (on French Quota) at Age 12 in 1925
Ellis Island Collection: EI-28


It's hard for people to understand today what it was like to be on a boat then in a storm like that. Tremendous noise. It sounded as if the boat was heading for some rocks. The great waves would smash, the noise tremendous, and I thought we would flounder at any moment. They posted Morse Code, messages received from other ships in the ocean, sending "S.O.S. We are floundering!" and so on, "Help!" and the captain let us know that he couldn't get out of the way. They were hard pressed, too. So they wanted to get to New York as soon as possible… all the other people were so sick. But I get over very quickly any sickness. I would go up on the captain's deck and I enjoyed this wild sight, and especially looking at the prow of the ship going way, way down under the sea and then lifting up. And the waves coming, rushing right up to the captain's...to live...that's a terrifying scene but, as a boy, I enjoyed it.

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Did You Know?

Angel Island aerial cropped2

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the US, leading to it sometimes being referred to as "The Ellis Island of the West". Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, many immigrants spent years on the island, waiting for entry. Access to the island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo. Ferry services are reduced during the winter. More...