Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two East Boston Seniors Meet Twenty East Boston Kids

Here at Grub Street we have been truly impressed with all the unexpected journeys that the Memoir Project has taken since it began in 2006. Last Wednesday, the Boston Museum hosted an event at the East Boston Public Library where two seniors read their essays from My Legacy Is Simply This. The audience was twenty rowdy students from Umana Middle School Academy.

It was not a traditional reading. The seniors, Ann Papapietro and Alice Christopher, punctuated each paragraph of their essays with additional unwritten thoughts and comments, and the students responded with questions and comments of their own. The result was a dialogue on the past and present of East Boston - from the days before the tunnel when a ferry cost a single cent, to the food carts along Porter Street, and even a short talk about the importance of using cloth napkins and tablecloths.

After Mrs. Christopher read from her essay the focus changed from history to heritage. Her essay ‘A Nice American Girl’ is about being the youngest daughter of a large Italian family. And Mrs. Christopher wasn’t shy about how hard it was to be the only one in her family born in America, about having to translate for her parents, about never learning Italian, and about her childhood dislike of traditional Italian food. The same issues were presented to the students: Did they have parents and siblings who were born in another country? Did they ever have to translate for their parents? And for each question, more then half the students raised their hands.

Through the skill of the humanities teachers at Umana Middle School Academy and the foresight of the Boston Museum, several connections were made that day in the basement of the East Boston Public Library. The seniors were able to share the personal stories of their lives, but also add their perspective to East Boston history and the challenges of being an American immigrant. And in that quiet, fidgety way twenty middle school students learned something they didn’t know before- even if it was just that going to the movies used to cost ten cents.

-Whitney Ochoa

Monday, September 21, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why The Word-Slingers Should Have Won Sunday’s Game

1. The team played at Veteran’s Field, which is the most beautiful of all the North Boston fields, with a glistening lake just nearby and a pleasant atmosphere of dog-walkers, joggers and elderly sports fans.

2. Jen LaVin pitched like an ace, earning numerous strike-outs.

3. No ball was too high or too low for Brian Runk, whose uncannily long limbs make him a star first baseman.

4. Short-stop Jon Papernick didn’t let a single ball go past him. While many balls were stopped, he, himself was unstoppable.

5. Outfielders Betsy Lawson, Mike Last-Name-Unknown, Jeff Stern, Clarence Lai and Ethan Gilsdorf caught fly balls high and fast and deep, and they made it look as easy as reading an email.

6. The umpire had lovely blue eyes, a sturdy physique and a charming Boston accent, all of which did not go unnoticed by team captain, Becky Tuch.

7. A local park ranger came by to remind the team to clean up afterward. His orange tan and waxed chest did not go unnoticed by outfielder Matt Biewener and third-baseman Tom Meek.

8. Power-hitter Steve Rubman beat that ball into the clouds again and again.

9. Wayne Feldman.

10. Finally, while the other team was short a woman, the Grub Street team had just enough, including Kristen, who came from outer space.

Sadly, the game was a tie up until the very last inning, at which point the Team In Lime Green earned a final two runs, ending the game, 10-8. Next time, Word-Slingers. Next time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Too Bad It's Not Preseason

(Other Team 15, Grub Street Word-Slingers 11)

While no rain fell on the Word-Slinger’s Sunday game, arbitrary rules and goose droppings spilled from the sky. To start things off, pitcher Jen LaVin was told to stand 600 feet from home plate.

“These are East Coast rules!” said Umpire Pouty McPoutface.

Adaptable as always, the Word-Slingers brought good spirits, high energy and a slew of valuable rookies to the field. New-timer Michelle Hoover hustled into home plate only to later fall victim to McPoutface’s willy-nilly One-And-One rule, which called her out after only two strikes. New-comer Steve Rubman also proved to be champion.

When asked about Rubman’s particular strengths on the field, fellow teammate, Clarence Lai said, “I don’t know. He got a hit.”

When not trying to make sense of the Inside-Outside-First-Base rule, the Sliding-Into-Home rule, the Game-Ends-After-1.25-Hours rule, and the horrendous Girls-Get-Their-Own-Rules rule, and when not sliding in goose droppings, other players proved outstanding as well. Betsy Lawson made vital outs in right field and hit the ball with gusto and grunts. In centerfield, Matt Biewener stared at his toes and wondered why the team was playing in P&G’s pharmaceutical office park, and if the goose droppings may not have in fact been clumps of toxic waste.

Meanwhile, Matt Frederick, Jon Papernick, Wayne Feldman, Brian Runk and Ted Weesner protected the infield with skill and panache, making numerous double plays that looked at once graceful and full of power, at once humble and mighty. In short, they are the voices of our generation.

Ultimately, the Word-Slingers couldn’t get much leverage on the other team’s pitcher. “He was a cheater,” says team Captain Becky Tuch. “Or at least, he was a diaper-wearing, Backstreet-Boys-loving goblin.”

Adds Clarence Lai, “There were a lot of goose droppings.”