A weighty pocket watch sits in my grandmother’s hands. It is an Elgin Watch, the first company to begin mass-producing watches in the United States. The watch itself is two inches in diameter, categorized as a large size, and weights around half a pound, according to my grandmother's ballpark estimates. The watch is a silveroid, meaning that it costs less than it looks. A chain connects the watch to the key that would keep the watch ticking, as well as open the back for repairs. She explains that Dan Ruskin, her late husband’s grandfather, bought it in New York when he came to the United States in 1899. He arrived from Russia to Ellis Island with little on his back. He saved up for months, she explained, to buy this meaningful timepiece as a sign of prosperity in the Jewish community, despite his lack of resources. Dan carried this watch wherever he went as an opportunist because he wanted the status symbol to one day become reality.
– Hayley Mendelson