THE DAY I ARRIVED IN NEW YORK
After we disembarked, once all the fussing over documents and luggage checks was done, finally my father and my uncle could load all the suitcases into the trunk of the car. They had some problems trying to also fit my grandmother’s trunk, the one full of salami, cheese, cans of oil and lots of other goodies for her kids in America.
Once everything was done, we got into the car as well and headed off…
We left the port area and we crossed through a part of the big city. New York was amazing. The extremely tall skyscrapers, wide, flat streets, cars and people everywhere. At each block, a traffic light. Groups of people would stop at the street corners to wait for the “green light” to cross…and then they would disappear into the buildings and side streets of the city. In the meantime, another group would form at the corners and the scene would repeat itself. Once the people had passed, the rows of cars would start again; taxis, buses and every imaginable means of transportation. But as soon as the traffic light turned red, everyone would stop, everyone would halt.
Despite the traffic, noise and confusion, everything proceeded with a certain order.
I had never seen cars so big. I had heard of Cadillacs, Chryslers, Fords….but to see them up close, I remained almost awed, especially considering my uncle’s modest Ford. While he drove, my uncle pointed out the landmarks of New York; on one side the Empire State Building, on the other side, the Chrysler Building. I stuck my head out the window to see better, fascinated by that new world.
On the way out of the city, my uncle called my attention and that of my father, who had started drifting off to sleep, to an enormous piece of construction work made of huge cables, cords, arches and metal towers in Gothic style.
It was the famous Whitestone Bridge. The bridge seemed as if it were suspended in air with no supports over the East River, the large river that separates Manhattan from Brooklyn and Queens. At this point, I had seen large cars, large streets, extremely tall buildings and a huge bridge.
I started to think that everything in America was larger, taller, wider, longer than anything I had ever seen until then. While we crossed the bridge, I leaned out the window a bit to look at the river that flowed below the bridge. From high up on the bridge I could see the river flowing fast, forming white foamy waves. But the distance between the bridge and the river was so great as to cause my head to spin. I immediately put my head back into the car. Once we got off the bridge, we got onto a nice road, flat and straight, which was called “The Parkway”. The Parkway was the highway at the time. The road, cut through the forest, was lined with tall trees whose tops grew together to form a covered gallery over the highway. Flowering bushes separated the lanes. They had told me that in America, in the cities, not many trees were seen. Instead, the Parkway was covered in green.
The asphalted street ran straight in front of us. No one spoke. I was lost in my thoughts.
Thoughts of joy and apprehension. Joy because I was here in America; all the hopes that I had saved up, all the dreams that I had dared to dream were about to come true.
Apprehension because of the unknown. I asked myself if I would be liked by my relatives, and if I would be able to get used to this new land, if I would learn to speak English. Then, I would shake myself and I would start to look again at the flat, straight road.
The road did not kick up clouds of dust, there were no holes or collapsed pieces of street to avoid. The cars did not have to stop for the cart of a farmer that was returning home after an entire day of work out in the fields, nor was there any shepherd that was returning at night with his flock. There were no traffic lights on the Parkway. Every few kilometers, there were large signs that indicated the name of the town or city that we were passing and the exit number. In this manner we arrived in Stamford, the city where we would live for a long time. We passed streets with small, one-storey houses constructed on small yards of grass that seemed as soft as carpets.
There were other streets with three or four-storey houses where a number of different families lived.
We arrived at my uncle’s house. From outside, it looked very nice. It was painted white and blue. It was a small building divided into four apartments. Ours was on the second floor.
Delia Socci Skidmore