This is an eleven-pound, copper samovar
This is an eleven-pound, copper samovar

My great-great-grandfather, Juelius Pelinger, lugged the eleven-pound copper samovar from Odessa to Palestine in 1895 and finally to New York City in 1900. This large, distinctively Russian teapot was probably the most expensive object that Juelius owned, as he did not come from a wealthy family. In addition to his pride in the cost of the object, Juelius likely carried the item on his journey because it served as a reminder of his home in Odessa and the friends and family that he left behind there. In America, Juelius married Yetta, another immigrant from Odessa, and moved to a large house in Englewood, New Jersey. Although the Pelingers no longer made tea with the samovar, it sat as a symbol of pride at the center of their dining room table. However, when the Pelingers passed the samovar on to their daughter, Ruth, she transformed the samovar into a lamp due to her shame in her Russian roots. The samovar disguised as a lamp stood in the family’s living room until it was given to Ruth’s daughter, Sondra. Sondra did not share her mother’s shame in her Russian past and longed to learn more about the land that her grandparents had loved. She restored the samovar-lamp to its original form as a teapot and placed it on her dining room table as a celebration of her heritage. When I visit my grandmother's apartment and see the samovar on her table, I am reminded of my family’s shifting relationship with their Russian heritage and my personal pride in my Russian roots.  

Place(s): Odessa, Russia, New York City, New Jersey
Year: 1900

– Alexa Levy

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