Stowaway Rides First Class On A French Liner - 1913
Hunts A Job, Is Caught. Speaks Six Languages and Says He Had No Trouble Evading Ticket Takers. Audaciously Applies to Ellis Island and May Be Deported as the Result.
New York. June 30, 1913. —There is on Ellis Island, a young man with an intellectual air and the easy, cosmopolitan ways of a traveler. He la Joseph Gronberger, 28 years old, a graduate of the University of Heidelberg. He speaks six languages. But he has no money and is deficient in logic, as will appear.
He went to Ellis Island to get a job as an Interpreter. Immigration officials found his qualifications to be first-class. But when the officials asked him some essential questions, they found the best reasons for holding him as a prisoner and an alien, subject to deportation.
Gronberger Is the most remarkable and highest-class stowaway ever brought to the attention of the Immigration authorities. After he had passed his brilliant examination for the post of Interpreter, he was asked how long he had been In America.
"Three days," said Joseph Gronberger. Ph.D.
"On what ship did you arrive?"
"The SS France," he replied.
"In what class?"
"First class," said Gronberger.
Name Not on Manifest
The officials looked through the passenger list, and his name was not there. Next, they Inspected the ship's manifest, and his name appeared in no class, first, second or third.
The linguist acknowledged that he was a stowaway. He was well dressed. He had no baggage. He had no money. He just walked aboard at Le Havre. He kept moving around.
The head waiter assigned him to a nice seat in the first-class dining saloon. He was a very agreeable table companion. His French was perfect. His knowledge of European politics is comprehensive and accurate. His fund of general information was extensive, and his manners were above reproach.
He dodged stewards, and the pursers, at such times as his ticket was likely to be called for, slipped into vacant staterooms, nooks, and deck corners and occasionally hid under a lifeboat.
When the SS France reached quarantine, lightning struck the foremast, gliding harmlessly off the spar and stunning the bos'n and seven sailors. The resulting excitement aided Gronberger's bold scheme.
When the ship was made fast, just after midnight of June 26, he was among the first ashore, after politely lifting his hat and shaking hands with an officer whose acquaintance he had made. He had no baggage to examine and lost no time leaving the pier.
Gronberger drifted penniless around New York for three days, looking for something to do. Then a brilliant idea struck him. He would get an interpreter's Job at the Immigration station. He didn't know about the Immigration laws and supposed himself safe, having gained admission to the country.
Recognized as Stowaway
While they were quizzing Gronberger on Ellis Island, a boarding officer entered the room and, taking a look at the German, exclaimed:
"This Is the fellow I took off the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria last December. Ha had no ticket but was in the steerage that trip."
Now Ellis Island hadn't decided what to do with the audacious stowaway. He is a good Interpreter, but if he is admitted to the country, the French Line is liable to a $500 fine for bringing an alien stowaway to the United States, and if they deport him, they will lose a first-class interpreter.
It may be the Department of Commerce and Labor will make an exception and remit the fine, allowing Gronberger, the only known stowaway whoever beat the first-class passage in a swell ocean hotel, to stay here.
Stowaway Rides First Class On A French Liner, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Monday Evening, 30 June 1913, p. 10, c. 1.