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March 24, 1906

Alright guys, I’ve got one last piece of fiction for you (at least for a little while)! My finals end on Tuesday so I’ll have the time to write my memoir style pieces once again!

But for now, take a step back in time to meet Molly, a young Irish immigrant traveling to America for the first time. This is her letter to her best friend back home.

nyc1900s

March 24, 1906

To my best friend in the entire world, Margaret,

I’ve survived! I know you were secretly thinking I would die on that boat but see, I’ve proved you wrong! I must admit, however, the journey was treacherous. Mother, Father, and I were stuffed into a small cabin at the bottom of the ship with three other families. Can you believe that? You don’t even like sharing a room with baby Nora…imagine living with groups of people you don’t even know! One family had three mischievous little boys who were so filthy, I think the dirt was permanently ground in their skin. They managed to run through the cabin’s tight quarters, wailing night after night. One of them even tried to sneak a peek at my ankles!

Once we docked, I couldn’t be happier to be rid of the ship. I don’t know if I could have survived another night pressed up against mother’s bosom listening to those wild animals called boys! But my happiness faded quickly, Margaret. I watched Mama and Papa kiss the streets once we got off the boat but I couldn’t do it. It looked so dirty, Margaret. America is nowhere near as beautiful as Ireland. Instead of rolling green pastures and the gentle ocean breeze tickling your face, everywhere you look here is a shade of grey covered in a thick layer of soot–like the boys I told you about!– and countless buildings, big and small, line the streets that can barely fit all of the people walking through them. After only a few moments in America, I heard the strangest ways of talking and can’t imagine where all these people are from. I do hope at some point I can make a friend or two. But don’t you worry, Margaret, you will always be my best friend in the entire world. Next to Bessie, I miss you the most out of everyone back home! I do hope you’re milking that ol’ Bessie, by the way. Don’t you forget, Margaret!

I’ll spare you the details of our first few nights here, but will let you know that they were just as awful as being on that ship. Mother and Father fought so much about where we were staying and while I pretended to be asleep, I could have sworn I heard Mother call it a “whore house”! Luckily though, Father came back on the third evening shouting, “We’ve got a place of our own girls! A place of our own!” That night was quiet and I was actually able to get a good night’s rest! Finally!

The next morning, we gathered our things and went to our new home, which was a very far walk through the crowded city streets. I felt like a fish trying to swim upstream! This house is nothing like our home back in Ireland. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. We live in a tall building, Margaret, behind a door, like in Old Marty’s Inn, with a view onto the grimy city streets. It is so small, barely fitting the three of us, and we have to share a bathroom with the other families that live in the building! It’s disgusting! We don’t even have an inch of land that I can look out upon to ease my aching heart’s desire to return home. Mama says I will adjust but I secretly hope that one morning I will wake up and be back in Ireland. That’s the only kind of adjusting I want to do.

And to top it off, this week Mother and Father began their jobs. Remember how they said they wanted to open their own shoe repair business? Well, it turns out that was harder than they thought. Again, I listened to them bicker night after night about how it looked almost impossible to start their own business and that it was time they “changed plans and looked for real jobs!” Several nights later, Papa came home and told us that he found himself a real position. And the whole family was meant to go with him. Well, boy did my heart skip a beat! “The whole family?” I asked. “Papa, what does that mean?” To which he told me that I would be going to work with him and Mama instead of going to school. Margaret, I was furious. I didn’t speak to Father the whole night. But the next morning, I awoke and dressed and followed them both into the city to one massive grey building. It is the most horrid thing you could ever imagine, Margaret. I am forced to sit all day sewing buttons onto shirts. If I stand up to stretch my legs, a sweaty man with a dark mustache comes and yells at me. I can’t stand it. It makes me sad to even think of it.

Oh, please forgive me, I don’t mean to bury you in all my woes. Just remember Margaret, I miss you very much and I cannot wait until we are reunited. I know they said the streets were paved with gold here, but I suppose they’ve gotten a bit rusty.

 

With all my love; your best friend in the entire world,

                                                                        Molly

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