Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – Departing England – 1925

Mary's Mom and Dad

Mary’s Mom and Dad

Mary’s mother had sent money from America to their father to pay for passage for her children but Mary’s father had spent the money on other things. Mary’s mother, Hezabinda, tries again, but this time she sends the money directly to a Travel Agency. It looks like Mary and her brothers, Jim and Arthur, might actually make it to America this time.


Meanwhile, my Mother had accumulated more money for our passage again but she sent it to a travel agency this time. My father was furious and very angry because my mother had not trusted him with the money. He seemed willing to go to America but my Mother had tried to get us to America without him. We had our passport pictures taken again and we were vaccinated. My brothers were so excited but I had mixed feelings because I was so hurt. Our Mother had left us and would not return home. I felt she did not love me and she had been away so long.

My wardrobe was awful and my brothers had only the English type of clothing. When the time came for us to embark for America, I was really frightened. Grand-da went with us to the railroad station and he quietly gave me some money for myself before we got on the train.

En route we stopped at Uncle Dick and Aunt Isabel’s house. She was such a beautiful woman and what thrilled me was that she had been a dancer and actress before she married Uncle Dick. They had three children but I was so envious of them because they all seemed so happy together. Aunt Isabel danced for us and I thought she was so pretty and dainty – so unlike the average mother.

Why were Uncle Dick and Uncle George so different from my father? I did not know that they were not in the war like my father.

We proceeded to Southhampton where we took a room near where the boat was docked. My father decided he wanted to go out for a while and I think I started to yell bloody murder. All I could think of was my father had in his possession my Mother’s $100 “lending money”. The landlord came and wanted to speak to my father because we were too noisy. I got a slap across the face but he did stay in the room until morning.

The next day, we boarded the President Harding, which was an American ship and finally we were on our way to America. The second day of our voyage, our father left us and “camped in” with a large Irish family and we did not see him until the day we landed in New York.

It was November and it sure was cold and we did not have the right kind of clothing. The sea was so rough that I was so seasick I felt I wanted to die. There was a stewardess who evidently felt sorry for me. She washed my hair and really cared for me and brought me food that I could keep down.

My brothers were natural sailors and explored every inch of the ship and had a marvelous time. For once they were getting enough to eat. We had what we called Thanksgiving dinner and I did not know what it meant because I did not know anything about American history and customs.

Next Sunday, Mary tells us of her experience landing at Ellis Island . It is quite a story.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a wrap-up of the Guion Family happenings in 1939. On Tuesday, we have another special Guest Post from gpcox,, all about sports during the war years. For the rest of the week, we’ll find out what is going on in January, 1940.


8 thoughts on “Mary E. Wilson Autobiography – Departing England – 1925

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    Tough young people!! But that was how it was done at times – by choice, accident, or neglect. My oldest uncle (dad’s oldest brother) sailed from Japan to Seattle in a similar fashion but he was alone.

    Pretty poignant passage about Thanksgiving. Indeed, they knew nothing about it.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Mustang Koji – So many people came to this country and every story is different but each one shows the inner strength of the people who make up this wonderful country.

  2. Mrs. P says:

    Truly, a riveting story. I can hardly believe her father was so neglectful. What a strong person she was at such an early age.

    It was great she included the name of the ship, which eventually was sent sold to Belgium in 1940 where it was renamed and shortly afterwards, attacked by German bombers. It had been carrying equipment and troops, resulting in being beached and burned. This is what the ship looked like.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Mrs. P. – Fascinating addition to the story. Thank you for this information and the link to the postcard. I’m sure Mary’s family will enjoy seeing it.

  3. gpcox says:

    Ms. Wilson has quite a story to tell.

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