We The People: Ellis Island

The Path That Determines Destiny

The Preamble to the Constitution begins with the familiar words, “We The People.” In order to fully realize the impact of these words and the freedoms being accorded today it is so important to go back and to look back. A recent visit to Ellis Island was as powerful for me as entering any cathedral, temple or mosque. I felt as if it was truly “sacred ground”. From 1892 to 1954, over 12 million immigrants entered the US through this portal…over 12 million people from all different races, cultures and beliefs, gathering, praying, hoping and dreaming for a future of promise and opportunity while pleading for an escape from persecution, poverty and oppression.

I walked in a type of silent reverence through these halls being struck by so many bags, personal items and photographs but there was one moment in particular that was such a touchstone for me. I was taken behind the scenes and shown places closed off to the public. The photograph above captures the exact point that set into motion the destiny of millions…my destiny. You see, my great grandparents were immigrants from Russia, Germany and Ireland. When they got to this point, they were all told to go to the right. They were now US citizens. The path to the left was for those being kept and or sent back due to the belief of a contagious disease. That one decision, that path set into motion a generational rippling effect. I, my grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters would now be blessed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This photograph hangs in my home to remind me how fortunate I am and how one moment, one decision can effect destiny.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.

Coney Island, A bit of Americana

In my attempt to explore as many beaches as possible this summer, yesterday was my trip to Coney Island. It seemed like such a quintessential location to visit with the Fourth of July approaching. Even though the 100 degree heat won out, quickly draining my camera batteries and me, I was caught up in the celebration, variety and flow of it all. The beach became crowded about 9:30 and there was every type of bathing suit to be seen (or not to be seen!). Luis was kind enough to give me a fishing lesson on the types of fish that can be caught with the timing of the tides and then there was the huge 85th birthday celebration for the iconic wooded roller coaster, The Cyclone. It was declared a New York City landmark on July 12, 1988 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.
The first man in line came at 9:00 with a three hour wait ahead of him. He was a security officer dressed in a full suit so that he could go right to work after his historic ride and he was so looking forward to it! Truly a dedicated individual! For the first 85 minutes, tickets were the original cost of $.25 and then it was “party city” for the rest of the afternoon!

A visit would not be complete without trying one of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs…I have to say, it was delicious. Try the one with the cheese! The fries I steered clear of, heart disease runs in the family! I am just sorry that I won’t be there for their famous hot dog eating contest on July 4th. According to their site, it is estimated that “40,000 fans have made the pilgrimage” to watch this event. Joey Chestnut holds the record for downing 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. How does he do it!? I am actually hoping to be on another beach on the 4th, but if not, I can tune into ESPN!…only in America!