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Ellis Island Villenelloid

By Shulamith Surnamer, May 2000

It’s just so hard trying to log on to Ellis Island
and this web site’s tantalizing NYC passenger arrivals’ database
into the Goldine Medina, the immigrants’ much desired new US strand.

Whether from Alsace-Lorraine, Russia, Surinam, or the ancient Holy Land
the huddled masses trudged up the herringboned hall’s grand staircase.
’Twas as hard in 1892 to gain admittance through Ellis Island

as in the Spring of 2001 to penetrate this genealogical treasure land
while vying with 27,000 others a second for my place in cyberspace.
Will I ever reach my genealogical candyland in this delicious new digitized strand?

As I impatiently sit and tap away at my computer stand
I’m a nervous right-clicking URL-reloading-and-refreshing basketcase.
It’s hard at first to log on to for Ellis Island.

Wait! Hurrah! Quick! Strike up the band!!
I briefly got on, registered, even made it to the passenger search screen place.
I was this close to finding my grandma’s arrival on America’s Atlantic strand

before overloaded network servers bumped me off my long awaited research e-band
’Due to the overwhelming number of visitors’ in Internet space.
It’s just so hard right now to log on to Ellis Island.

Boards of Special Inquiry once refused passengers admittance to the US mainland.
Trachoma, lack of money, lameness -- each a coup de gr’ce --
made it hard for immigrants, especially steerage, to land at Lady Liberty’s strand.

Twelve million or more left motherland, fatherland, native homeland
forever, some in disgrace, some after one last parting familial embrace,
to try as best they could to land safely through Ellis Island.

Whether from Russland, Ireland, Litvakland, or Internetland,
all of us want to get to our magic goal’s first base;
all of us want to be able to reach our destination, our desired new strand.

Many who wish to enter are in desperate need of a helping hand --
a translator, a la Fiorello La Guardia -- to decipher the e-maze.
Otherwise, it’s just so hard trying to navigate through Ellis Island

amidst the polyglot babble of languages and indecipherable scribbled longhand
while diligently searching millions of databased surnames for a faint misspelled trace
of our mishpacha’s entrance to this Goldine Medina, the fabled golden strand.

At times it feels like I’m in some Never-Never-Land
trying to ferret out ancestral arrivals from their passenger manifest hiding place.
It’s just that it’s excruciatingly hard for all to ever land at Ellis Island:
both immigrant’s New World strand and immigrant’s descendants’ New Web e-Strand

about the author
Shulamith Surnamer