Cannon-Fodder

My grandmother grew up in Danville, Virginia during the mid-1940’s. Living in a Jewish family, she and her family grew up in a city of Christians, a city whose history was that of the American White-Christian – not much having to do with Jews or any other denomination for that matter. The objects in the photo are Civil-war era cannon shot, which can be traced back to the city’s past as the last capital of the Confederacy. My great-grandfather worked as a merchant of sorts during the 20th Century – selling scrap metal and tools to farmers around the Danville area. When buying a load of scrap metal to later sell off, he encountered these war-era armaments which have since remained in our family for generations. My grandmother tells us with a sense of pride how her father was the only Jew many of his customers ever met, or ever would meet. She recounts how to every farmer he sold something to, he would ask that they leave one-tenth of their field unharvested for animals and the poor to use when they were in need of it. This practice is emphasized in the Torah which asks that one-tenth of one’s income be given to charity or to the needy. These pieces of cannon-fodder serve as a constant reminder of my family’s Jewish identity – and how it persevered even in an environment with no other Jews around to share it with.

Year: 1890

– Joshua Weiner

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant