Jacob’s Ladder

Ladder - upward-perspective
Ladder - upward-perspective

My great-grandfather, Jacob Epstein, emigrated from England in 1923, drawn by the allure of the “American Dream” like many others of his time. Jacob and his wife, Bessy, arrived in Canada via maritime travel. They entered America with their canadian-born daughter - my grandma Lillian - in tow. Jacob’s passion for painting was transported as well, as his five-foot ladder resided in his luggage for months. He opened a paint shop in Brooklyn, and would paint countless houses atop said ladder. It was Jacob’s true home - no matter the location, he could always trust it to take his weight. Jacob would not only live atop this ladder, but from which ascend to the heavens as his judaic counterpart precedes - America was his Bethel. This ladder now serves as my sister’s nightstand, a charging station her phone rests on. Dad refused to share the story of this heirloom with me, and the few generalities I was able to pry out of him were only given after my extreme prodding and his ungodly yelling. The details I provided here are mostly my cohesive interpretation of frail fragments. Perhaps I was met with such resistance during my investigation due to his inability to properly share his grandfather’s legacy with me; he doesn’t know and wishes he did. Perhaps that is too optimistic - he most likely just deems my curiosity a nuisance and would rather expend energy dismissing it than satisfying it. Whichever the cause, the threat of cultural abandonment looms heavy. Who will inherit Jacob’s story if there are no angels to guide my way backwards and down the wooden steps to the past?

Place(s): Great Britain; Canada; United States of America; Brooklyn, NY

– Chloe Albucker

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more