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A Family Journey

Columbus, OH

Copyright Š 2008 by SRA/McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written consent of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., including, but not limited to, network storage or transmission, or broadcast for distance learning. An Open Court Curriculum. Printed in China. Send all inquiries to this address: SRA/McGraw-Hill 4400 Easton Commons Columbus, OH 43219 ISBN: 978-0-07-608727-3 MHID: 0-07-608727-1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 NOR 13 12 11 10 09 08 07

“Kellen McDermott, are you listening?” Ms. Evans asked. Kellen’s mind came back to social studies. He had been thinking about soccer. Ms. Evans was explaining their next assignment. “To finish our unit on heritage,” Ms. Evans said, “I am assigning each of you a topic for an oral report. Your topic is on the paper I’m giving you.” As soon as she gave Kellen his assignment, the bell rang. Kellen stuffed the paper in his pocket and took off. 3

On the bus, Kellen sat with his best friend, Rocky. “Ready to play soccer?” Rocky asked. “I have to check in with my grandpa at home first,” said Kellen. At home Kellen changed and threw his clothes into the laundry. Then he looked for his grandpa. “Grandpa?” Kellen called. “You’re home,” Grandpa replied. “Rocky and I are going to play soccer,” Kellen said. “I’m making your great-grandmother’s famous Irish stew,” Grandpa informed him. “Sounds great!” Kellen yelled as he ran out the door. 4

“Delicious stew, Dad,” Mr. McDermott slurped. “It’s your grandmother’s recipe,” Grandpa replied. “How was school, Kellen?” Mrs. McDermott asked. “We have to do an oral report,” Kellen said. “On what?” his mother asked. Kellen excused himself. He had to go to his room so he could fish his pants out of the laundry and find his note. His heart sank—no paper! Then he saw it on the floor. He returned to the kitchen. “It’s on Ellis Island. History stuff is so boring.” “If it weren’t for Ellis Island,” Grandpa said, “you wouldn’t be here today.”


“What do you mean?” Kellen chuckled. Grandpa fetched a photo album. “Look through this,” he said. “I think you’ll understand what I mean.” “Okay, Grandpa.” Kellen put the album in his bedroom. In social studies class the next day, Ms. Evans gave more details about the oral report. She handed out a list of books and Internet sources they could use for research. Then she announced that Kellen would be presenting his report first—next week. “Great,” Kellen grumbled to himself.


At home he found a note from Grandpa. He wouldn’t be back until after dinner. Reading the note reminded Kellen of the photo album. Kellen sat at the kitchen table and started flipping through the pages. They were filled with black-andwhite pictures of people Kellen did not know. Or did he? Many of them were labeled “Patrick and Margaret McDermott.” It suddenly occurred to Kellen that the people in the pictures must be related to him. Who were they, though?


Kellen looked carefully at the album. It also had letters addressed to Patrick McDermott. One was filled with questions: “How was your journey? How is life in America? Do you miss Ireland?” There were pictures labeled “Ellis Island, 1918.” Kellen recognized the Statue of Liberty. Then, turning the page, he spotted a picture labeled “Baby James.” “James,” he said aloud. “That’s Grandpa’s name. This must be Grandpa as a baby!” “What are you looking at?” Kellen had not noticed that his mother had walked into the room. 8

“Grandpa’s album,” Kellen said. “I think these are his parents at Ellis Island. Where is Ellis Island anyway?” “It’s near New York City,” his mother said. “Years ago millions of people left their home countries to come to America. Many apparently came from Ireland. They had to stop at Ellis Island in order to come into the country.” Kellen checked the Internet. He went to a Web site about Ellis Island. “We can look for people who came to Ellis Island!”


Kellen typed his great-grandparents’ names into the site. “I found their records!” he said. “I’m going to print them for Grandpa.” When Grandpa arrived home, Kellen handed the papers to him. Grandpa studied them. “I guess you looked through my photo album.” “I did. I know your parents traveled by ship from Ireland to Ellis Island,” Kellen said. “Can you tell me more about them?” He grabbed a pen and some paper so that he could take notes for his report. 10

“My parents were married in Ireland in 1916,” Grandpa started. “Many of their relatives had moved to America. Life had become difficult in Ireland. They hoped that living in America would be better. “It wasn’t easy moving to a new country, though,” Grandpa said. “Some people here had a bad attitude toward the Irish. They would not give them jobs. The Irish survived some rough years. In time they formed a strong Irish American community here.” 11

Grandpa continued, “Your great-grandfather was inspired by those who had worked so hard to make it here. He decided to move to America too. In 1917, they boarded a ship and crossed the vast ocean to New York. My mother told me she was spellbound when she first saw the Statue of Liberty. She could barely see it through the mist. But that’s how she knew they had arrived in America.” “Here’s a picture,” Kellen said pointing to the photo album. “What happened next?” 12

“Their ship docked, and they boarded a ferry to Ellis Island,” Grandpa said. “On Ellis Island, a doctor made sure they were healthy. People with certain diseases were forbidden from entering the country. They also answered many questions.” “This picture,” Grandpa said, pointing to the album, “was taken right after Ma and Da left the island. When I look at this picture, I am inspired by the hope in their faces. It must have been scary to begin a new life in a new country.”


“What did they do next?” Kellen asked. “They lived with my great-uncle James. He had a tiny apartment in a crowded neighborhood in the city,” Grandpa said. “Ma earned wages as a seamstress, and Da worked at a shoe factory. I’m shocked at how hard they had to work.” Kellen pointed to the baby picture. “Is this you?” “Yes,” Grandpa said. “That blanket is the one I passed on to you.” “I loved that blanket,” said Kellen. “Mom said I should give it to my children someday.” 14

“Speaking of blankets,” said Grandpa, “isn’t it about time for bed?” With a new attitude, Kellen worked on his report. He asked Grandpa to watch him present it. “In 1892 an Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first person to arrive at Ellis Island,” Kellen’s report began. “But she was not the last. In fact, if it weren’t for Ellis Island, I wouldn’t be here today.” Grandpa smiled. He knew now that his family’s story would live on.


Vocabulary apparently (Ω par´ Ωnt l¥) (page 9) adv. As far as one can judge by the way things appear. attitude (at´ Ω t∏d´) (page 11) n. A way of acting, thinking, or feeling. vast (vast) (page 12) adj. Very great in size. spellbound (spel´ bound) (page 12) adj. Fascinated; filled with delight or wonder. mist (mist) (page 12) n. A cloud of tiny drops of water or other liquid in the air; fog. forbidden (fΩr bi´ dΩn) (page 13) adj. Off-limits.

Comprehension Focus: Compare and Contrast 1. What was life like for Kellen’s great-grandparents before they came to the United States? What was it like after they came? 2. How did Kellen’s attitude toward Ellis Island change after talking with his grandpa? What changed his attitude?


A Family Journey  


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