Crossing the Atlantic

En Route to the United States

"I had my first taste of freedom."

"On August 7, 1951, we boarded a very small former troop ship, which used to bring troops from the United States to Europe, the S.S. General Sturgis. When we boarded the ship, at eleven years old I was a pretty big kid, and they decided that I didn’t belong with the women. They had a women’s section and a men’s section. They put me in with the men. As an eleven-year-old child it was very traumatic, because it was the first time in my life I was separated from my mother. Then I discovered that food was plentiful aboard ship. I could eat as much as I wanted to when I wanted to. Since my mother spent the ten days it took to cross in her bunk because she was terribly sea sick, I had my first taste of freedom. I roamed the ship. A very nice gentleman agreed to take care of me, but he was doing things the men aboard ship did-- play cards and things like that. I was always hanging over the side. They had very low railings, and they were afraid I was going to fall overboard."