My Grandfather, Walter Harris Lewis, the only son of a well-to-do Jewish family, fled Lithuania in the beginning of the 20th Century to escape conscription in the Tzarist army. He arrived in this country as an adolescent without much English or money. Like many Jewish immigrants he began as a peddler- selling what he could carry as he walked from New York to Texas. By the time he reached Texas, he had saved enough to buy two mules and thus increase sales. He made enough to return to Lithuania and buy a farm - a lifelong love. He returned to the U.S. and was able to bring his 3 sisters and mother. This time he settled in Huntington, W. Va., a small city located on two major means of transportation: the Ohio River and the C&O railroad. He thought this would assure economic growth.
From Huntington, Walter Lewis founded a chain a small furniture stores and developed both commercial and residential real estate.
The panel I created traces the journey from the young boy in Lithuania to the young man in Texas. It juxtaposes a map of Tzarist Lithuania with a map of Huntington, West Virginia in the 1930’s when my grandfather was getting established. His life is represented by transparent layers that create a complex final image.