Cosigning the Past


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work



Citation of Original Publication

Delury, J. (2012). Cosigning the Past. Baltimore Fishbowl, 1-2.



In the 1880s, my great-grandmother packed a steamer trunk and left her Alsatian village for the port of Le Havre, France. Anna had a glass eye — the result of a snowball fight when she was a girl — little knowledge of English, and the promise of work in San Francisco. She docked in New York and, having eaten her first orange, boarded a train to the West Coast. There, she met my great-grandfather, Albert, an immigrant from Germany. They opened a bakery that collapsed during the earthquake of 1906. My great-grandparents and their children survived that catastrophe, but not long after, their seven-year old son was run over by a carriage while playing in the street. A black wreath hung on their door for a decade. By the time I was a child, Anna and Albert had been reduced to these anecdotes, passed on by my father, and, more concretely, to their two steamer trunks.