Cost of Passage to America #ukraine
I have frequently puzzled why it took my grandfather 10 years to be able
to bring over
his wife and two daughters >from the Ukraine. I have talked with friends
who tell me
it was just as long for their grandfathers to do the same. I imagine
that the cost of
a steamship ticket was the biggest expense. Were there other
expenses? I read where
some immigrants were turned back because they did not have any money upon
arrival. Did the cost of the ticket clean them out? I never had the
chance to discuss
this with my grandfather, but I was able to see this 10 year gap >from
the entry information
of Ellis Island.
Now reading an interesting and pertinent fictional book by Alan
'A Fine September Morning'. There, the main character arrives almost
Russia, manages to start his own tailoring business (like my
grandfather) and is able
to bring his family over in about two years, with some help >from
friends. I wonder what
the average time it took for men to afford this move of their families.
Morton Grove, Illinois
Cost of move was only one of the reasons. Yet, there were many others,
Just a few examples >from my family.
1. My grand grandfather went to the US in 1913 alone, leaving the
family behind him in Belarus, a part of the Russian empire. The idea
behind this was that it would be easier for him to settle there alone,
make all the arrangements and the wife with 8 children would join in
2-3 years, when everything is ready. It was a popular state of mind at
that time and it could work, if not for the reason #2.
2. In 1914 WWI broke out, followed by two Russian revolutions and
Civil War. These were really hard times, and travelling via Europe was
an enormous challenge, full of life dangers.
3. It was not before 1924 that my grand grandfather managed to invite
his family to the US, However, the Bolsheviks did not give permits to
children above 18. So, the 3 elder children had to stay in the USSR,
including my grandfather who had married and born a child (my mom) by
4. The 3rd brother that was still single managed to escape >from the
USSR in 1925 via Latvia, being smuggled in a ship's cargo deck,
reached Canada and only then joined the family in Cleveland, OH.
All these challenges were naturally on top of the cost of move.
And I believe that almost every family had to overcome its own hurdles.