Photograph of my Granfather

Relationship: Im/migrant
Avery sitting at the post office.
Avery sitting at the post office.

Avery Bull was an army man, accountant, and eventually, a father who grew up in the small town of Sanford, Virginia. His family migrated from Ireland on a passenger vessel following the Great Potato Famine, but found that much like their potatoes, it was difficult to grow and adjust on new soil without solid roots. 
The coastal community in Sanford had little more than a solitary, single-room post office and a humble railroad track that breathed life into the sparse community. Avery and his family, pictured in front of the rickety wooden building demarking the town center, directly illustrate the basic struggles of life that gripped him during this time. Electricity, clean water, and food were all scarce resources in Sanford. 
The printed photo, creased and worn through decades of exchanging family hands, is marked on the back with the penmanship of my great grandmother. Years of direct light has overexposed the film, further washing out definition from the black-and-white photo. The unchanging, ceaseless smell of the Chesapeake Bay that envelopes the photograph makes it easily identifiable.
This cherished family photo serves as a direct window into our heritage, picturing the first generation of the Bull family to be born on American soil. My family’s moving story is significant to me because it is not a traditional story of the American Dream, a tale we so often hear. It is a story defined by hardship, hunger, and a bleakness— but eventually, ending with happiness. 

Place(s): Sanford, Virginia

– Ethan Bull

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant