Revisiting the Old Lady
Around 3 a.m. on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, 1953, the French Line ship Liberté sailed into New York harbor. Among the huddled masses gathered on her deck was the Wiggins family–my parents, sister, brother and me. It was chilly and wet and the statue wasn’t even lit up, but we were not about to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A few obstacles delayed our entry. Customs presented a scare when my sister was found to have a forgotten dried-up apple in the bottom of her bag. Then our hearts were in our mouths as the immigration agent held our mother’s chest x-rays up to the light, despite the fact that we had procured all our documents from the American Embassy in London, and Mom had been cleared of her post-war TB.
Not having hotel funds for the two nights before our train to Ohio, an extremely generous shipmate let the five of us stay in her Manhattan apartment. I still remember her name 61 years later: Ivy Zetheras.
My dad was fascinated by the Automat, where we ate several meals. I remember virtually nothing else about those two days. I was 8 1/2.
After the train ride to Ohio we were greeted by our American sponsors and soon welcomed with the most lavish amount of food I had ever seen, in the form of Thanksgiving. It was overwhelming–strangers, unfamiliar food, weird combinations (fruit with meat? jello with a meal rather than dessert?).
My husband and I spent last week in New York. After a very cold spell during which we visited museums and saw shows, Sunday promised a mild and sunny day, a perfect opportunity to visit the World Trade Center site and the new High Line Park.
When I realized we were near Battery Park, and remembering it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I wanted to get a glimpse of Lady Liberty. In 2000 we had taken the boat ride to the statue and also visited Ellis Island, so now on our last day in New York, a peek would suffice.
I’ll write more about the sights and shows, exhibits and our ventures into three boroughs in future posts, after tomorrow’s celebration of my 62nd Thanksgiving in America. With gratitude, I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving.