Once Josef arrived in Bremen, and his path to America seemed clear, he wrote to Lisi. Not only had Friedrich Missler, probably Bremen’s most successful ticket agent, given thousands of passengers a brown, canvas wallet like the one in which I found Josef’s diary, he also provided stationery emblazoned with “F. Missler” and the agency’s address at 30 Bahnhof Strasse [literally: Train Station Street], proving Missler was a marketing wizard of his day. Many descendants who have these wallets have mistakenly thought “Missler” was the name of the ship pictured and researched in vain to find it.
Here’s the first page of Josef’s letter to Lisi, written on Missler stationery. If you look closely, you can see the date at the start of the letter (the date is first and the month follows in Roman Numerals).
December 30, 1910
At this point Josef describes his misadventures and narrow escapes, which have already been shared in previous posts, so I’ll skip over that part and start with Bremen: [If you missed those narrow escapes, see Terror Atop the Train and Threats to the Dream.]
We’re sitting here at F. Missler, and already it’s going a bit easier because each person [fellow travelers he’s met] makes the other happy, and so we are getting along fine.
With heartfelt greetings, I end my letter. Please, dear Lisi, tell me in your first letter what you have heard of my colleagues. [To read my recent discovery of what happened to the two friends with whom Josef started his trip, see the end of this post: Threats to the Dream]
December 31, 1910
I was moved by sadness, joy, and fear as the mighty colossus pulled us far out over the waves of the great sea. Everyone on land waved after us with their handkerchiefs as they wanted to share with us a last and friendly farewell. They know such a trip deals with life and death, and we’re never certain if we’ll see each other again.