In the Shadow of Liberty: The Chronicle of Ellis Island

By Edward Corsi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
A SUMMONS TO THE WHITE HOUSE

ONE morning in 1931 I was at my desk at Haarlem House working on the Settlement budget for the winter program. The telephone rang. "This is long distance," said the operator. "The Secretary of Labor is calling Mr. Edward Corsi."

The voice of Secretary Doak came over the wire. "I wonder," he said, "if you can come down to Washington. I am anxious to meet and speak with you."

I knew that the commissionership at Ellis Island was vacant, and it entered my mind fleetingly that the President might ask an immigrant to accept it. I dismissed this idea at once as too fantastic, and concluded that I was about to be consulted on some local problem. I went down to Washington the next day, and as I sat in the hotel waiting for the time of the interview, I kept wondering just why I had been called.

Secretary Doak received me in his office at the Department of Labor, and greeted me in his informal manner. We talked of many things, but he said not a word of what he had in mind. Finally he looked at his watch, rose from his desk and invited me to go along with him. We walked to the White House.

He took me into the President's office. I had seen President Hoover before, during the campaign of 1928, but now he seemed a greatly changed man. The lines of his face had deepened. His hair

-30-

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