Slowly the ship unplowed the waters to New York City’s harbor, whereupon, the youthful stubborn Russian lad, saw for the first time the famous, Statue of Liberty, and nearby Ellis Island was at arms length, the most famous gossip on board the ship, it would be where he would process through, he–like thousands of others coming to America.
As he would go through the processing at Ellis Island, he would take a physical first, at which time, to his surprise, he would find out he had a rash on his stomach, legs and upper portion of his arms. The authorities, were taken back bit, and ready to return Anatolee back to the ship and back to Russia, when at the right moment, he yelled in what little English he knew, Ship from the US to Russia he had learned on the Ship from the Jews: “No, no scik, excitied, ecited, no scik, no scik! (almost in a panic-stricken way),” yet somehow he maintained a smile on his face through all this, that stretched from ear to ear, which might have been the deciding factor for the Captain, whom was the doctor in the facility, looked suspiciously into his eyes, Anatolee almost froze when he did so, and a tear filled the rim of his left eye: “Ok, ok…hmmm,” said the doctor, a bit unsure, and waved him on through to the next inspector. It was an electrifying event, moment to say the least.
[August 3, 1916] And then came August, it was August 1, when Anatolee Silluak arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota. He had witnessed his father’s death, a trip across the Atlantic, Ellis Island, and a train ride from New York City, to St. Paul, Minnesota. He would never move again, and never return to Russia. Matter-of-fact, he would never leave Minnesota other than going back to Europe, to fight in WWI, with the American Army, in 1917-18; thereafter, at the age of twenty, he’d live his days out in Minnesota, all 63-years that was left, and die at age of 83. He would never drive a car, and never complain about hardships in America, they were never as hard as from where he had left
The Hog Kill
[Mary’s Place–1916, first week of August]
Thoughts flickered through the mind of Anatolee, like vanishing corn corps in the fields outside of St. Paul. He needed a job, money, many images filled his brain, and he had a place to stay for a bit of time, for a week or two weeks no more, a sponsor had let the authorities on Ellis Island know that there were homes for immigrants, where they could stay at for a limited time providing they had money to pay for it. And he stayed with a Polish woman named Mary and her sister, brother, and grandfather.
The word kept coming to his mind, ‘now what,’ and it was always what his father had said: “Work.” He was directed to the stockyards in South St. Paul, and got a job instantly. They actually put him to work in the hog-kill the day he applied: pushing hogs through wooden channels, and clubbing them over the head with a bat, when they got to the end of it: killing them. Sometimes he’d have to jump down like the other guys and push the hogs with his hands, hit them with his stick, kick them to move. They could smell death, and they squealed death, and shrieked, and thus, to one another they new death was near. They tried to gore a few men; these were three hundred to four hundred pound hogs, some less some more. Dangerous as they moved about like little hippos.
As the first week went on he ended up on several jobs, within the stockyards, one being in what they called the Rose Room, where they burned up all the excess fat and skin and skulls and bones of cows: rib bones, and other bones not used, items no one wanted to use, the left over guts that didn’t go into hot dogs or sausage: it was all burnt up and used for fertilizer. He emptied it down into a furnace like area. He had to open the steel door on the floor, heavy as a banks door, it had to be, it had to keep within it the death smell, the putrid smell of bones incinerating, and its odors seeping quickly out of the rounded hole until shut again, and then the stink circulating the air within the room, never really leaving it, then back the cart up, he had to pull the cart with all those bones and heads and guts and legs and feet, and empty it into the afoul smelling pit, that had hell’s fire in it–flames gushing up into the open space the moment you’d opened the iron door. It paid well though.
They also put him on the belt as they called it, where he’d have to cut the back of the pig, which was used for bacon, then it was shifted down to the slice bacon department.
On his way to work, he now noticed, the last day of the week, the clay cliffs along the Mississippi that followed his ride out to South St. Paul. The High Bridge that was built in the l880’s farther down toward the other city, Minneapolis. There along the banks was what was called the levee; folks lived on that piece of dirt land that didn’t seem like much. Also along the shores of the river, he noticed some blacks catching some catfish, big catfish, they lived in the area of Rondo, in St. Paul, said the driver of the Model T.
[By and by, Anatolee would save up money and quit this job, and get into painting houses and inside buildings; and the restaurant business, but that was much further down his road–I have leaped, sorry, we should stay on track here. For now he would stay at swifts for several years, learn how to paint, and then go on to contract painting for a private business’ in St. Paul.]
[The Brandt’s–1916, third week of August]
Anatolee was amazed at the cars he saw in the city, they had really invented a new age, yet he would never drive one, nor had any wish to. He was living with Mary, and her sister Ella, they had the bedrooms, as did her brother, and grandfather. He was sleeping on the living room couch, and sometimes out on the couch on the porch. The girls he never said much to, he was mostly gone, as they were likewise, but it was only the third week of August: plus this was not a matchmaker situation.
He had got advise from a young painter at swifts, Earnest, that his mother owned a four-plex on Jackson Street, across from the Market Place, thus, on Saturday of the third week of August, he’d ventured on down there to see her. As he approached the Market Place, looking at Mrs. Brandt’s place across the street, about ready to cross it, he noticed it was a fairly large market. They were selling fresh chicken’s cutting their heads off right there. He liked that, for then he knew they were fresh. And the women were gathering up the feathers to make pillows out of the feathers. Furthermore, he noticed that a butcher was cutting up beef, and another man was selling honeycombs, and still others selling cabbages and carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and fruits. One man was selling coffee and sandwiches. Several women were selling bread. Still others were selling flowers for planting, and small trees. He would have to utilize this market (and in time he would, he’d buy his Christmas Trees, there along with everything else. He would shop there from April to October every year thereafter).
Mrs. Bryant, a widow was the owner, and was sitting outside on her porch, when Anatolee showed up, she had already known he was interested in the place and was supposed to come. She rocked back and forth on the old rocker, looking at him approaching, the barber shop across the street, and Tony’s the shoemaker, along side of her place. Then as Anatolee made it to the first of four steps up to the open porch, she stood up, said:
“Mr. Anatolee,” she said, not knowing his surname. “My son said you’d stop on down, what to see the place, it’s just an efficiency apartment–a room, not much more, the bathroom is in the hall for others to use, like you, as is the ice box in the hall for everyone to put their items in, and the ice man comes once a week, everyone has to pay extra for that you know. Don’t be using all the room up now. I live on the other side of the building, but its cheep and it will do for what you need.”
Sometimes things just fall in place, and you think everything must be the way it is suppose to be: that is, all doors open up, and when they do they give you confirmation, this is where you are suppose to be. It works the opposite way to I suppose, that is, if nothing goes right, it is possibly telling you something otherwise; you shouldn’t be where you are. But this confirmed everything for Anatolee, this was where he was suppose to be for the time being.