My object is a photo that my grandmother brought with her from Europe in 1913. She was fifteen years old and the youngest child of six at the time this photo was taken. She’s standing next to her older sister Minna for whom my aunt was named. My grandmother pointed out that Minna was engaged to be married because she’s wearing a gold watch draped around her neck. She also noted that she had a brother and sister who were married by now and so not present in this photo. Finally, there were two more brothers who had already immigrated to America. They sent money home for their parents to be the next to book passage to New York. (I imagine that may be the reason for a family photo.) In any event, it was 1913 and World War I was in the air and my great-grandparents were concerned about leaving a fifteen-year-old girl alone in a possible war zone. She ended up traveling with my great-grandfather. The war came putting an end to any further immigration. Afterward, everyone was settled, “rooted” where they were and no amount of begging could make them change their minds. That was the last time my grandmother saw her family intact. By World War II they were all gone. She showed me the many postcards she saved. It was a world devoid of instant communication, a one-way trip. But from those who did manage to immigrate we now have a fifth generation to celebrate.
– Janet Jeddah