Immigration Papers

Immigration papers
Immigration papers

My great grandfather Helu was in Poland during WWII. During the war, his family was killed by the Germans. After that, he spent the rest of the war hiding far away from the battles. After the war, Helu went to Paris. He traveled across the ocean all the way to NYC. The first class got to go right off the ship while the others, including Helu, waited in the lines at Ellis Island. He spent hours in those lines when he finally got his papers, which is my object. He changed his name to Al. After that he took his first step into his new home, at least for the week. On his papers, it mentions him staying in New York for a week, and then moving to Cuba, where he met Shirley, his lover. He did go to Cuba, but he made the decision to move back to New York where he would build his family.
Looking back at this, it’s crazy to think that if Al had been killed, I wouldn't be here today. I know it’s just a piece of paper but I feel it connects me to him. I didn’t know him since he died before I was born, and before I started writing this I knew nothing about him. I feel finding out about his story and seeing his papers is like I just met someone that I've already met before.
If he were still here today I would ask so many questions. What was it like to be hiding from the Germans? Why did you go to Cuba? So many questions that I may never know the answer to. Because of this I learned a lot about Al. There's so many people in my family's past that I feel I’ve never met. If I can learn about Al, I'm sure I can do the same with someone else.

Place(s): Poland, Cuba, NYC

– JC

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more