The vastness of it did not terrify her. The majesty of it did overwhelm her. She and the other orphan girls from her village would stand at the rail and pay homage to it for hours each day. She, the girl Anna, shared that the only water she remembered was the stream in the woods near her home. How cool the water seemed as it touched her ankles! How she enjoyed splashing her brother! Now each day she and her girlfriends were surrounded by passels of strangers and the ocean water.
Anna and her friends talked each day about the lady they would see once they reached land in this new America. The lady had been described to them: tall, stately, welcoming. Was she as beautiful as the statue of the Madonna in their village church? How would they know it was she? The lady would be standing in the harbor with a light. She would signal to them that their journey across the water would end. They would make their ways across a gangplank over the water…a new home…a baptism of freedom.
Fourteen year old orphan Anna Mroz made her journey across the water from Poland via Trieste, Italy. It was May, 1906. She was listed on the ship’s manifest as 16 years old. Why the deception? She had $9 in her possession, and her brother Jan would be meeting her at Ellis Island. She would be working as a domestic. The water had brought her to a new life.
Anna Mroz is my paternal grandmother. She died two years before I was born. Oh, how I would have enjoyed her stories about crossing the great water!