Monday, October 16, 2006

Who Were They Covering For?

Officials at Ellis Island grew suspicious in 1907 that a firm was secretly importing hundreds of contract laborers from Italy. And arming them with umbrellas.

A few days ago the registry clerks on the island began to notice that each man in parties of immigrants arriving from Naples carried an umbrella. The officials failed to recall when they had last seen an immigrant bring an umbrella. The umbrellas were examined and found to be made by one firm in Italy. Each was incased in a glazed cover.

An inquiry was made, but all the immigrants said that they had just happened to feel as though umbrellas were necessary in America, and so they purchased some at Naples or Genoa, according as the whim. [The Washington Post, Mar. 26, 1907]

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