Sunday, February 22, 2015

The One With Bon Jovi Playing for People Who Were Alive Then

Here are the opening pieces of some of the delightful essays my students have written for Treasure Hunt Part 2 Step 1.

1) Felice from Italy

Young and anxious to start a life of his own, my twenty-something year old great-great grandfather Felice made the voyage by ship to Ellis Island all the way from southern Italy in 1917. Although he was ready to start a life of his own and meet some family that already lived in New York City before him, he also had a more desperate reason for wanting to move to New York. This reason was that he wanted to avoid the tragedies that were unfolding in World War 1 torn Europe and he was escaping the Italian military draft that took place in his home region. His family in Italy made shoes and so did his relative in New York City…(continued)

2) Fresh Prince of Russia

Now this is a story all about how my great grandpas life got flipped upside down.  I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how he escaped Russia in a time that was scarce. In Svobodny, Russia born and raised, on the farm is where he spent most of his days. (continued)

3) Baby Blue White Top Convertible Mustang

Early in the 1970s my mother lived in New York, and her father was a lieutenant for the NYPD. As I was growing up my grandfather would tell me about all of the stories of him being a cop and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Back to the story though, as she was a senior in high school her family was going to move to Florida so my grandfather could work as a logistics engineer for the Kennedy space center. Seeing as how much of an inconvenience this was going to be for my mother, they decided to bribe her with the car of her dreams, a baby blue, white top convertible mustang. And in return she would have to move with them to Florida and not run away and stay in New York with her best friend…. (continued)

4) Jackie Robinson. Ish.

Knocks it out the park! The one, the only, the first African-American to play for over 50 years was a Dodger in the major league baseball Mr. Jackie Robinson! Born in Cairo, GA, which is pretty darn close to where some people that I am related with were born. (continued)

5)  Heartbreaking

Where to begin, let’s say the year of my birth, which was xxxxxxx. Even coming into the world was not easy. Not only was I a premature baby, but the doctor didn’t think me or my mother was going make it. Speaking of my mother and a fun fact for you is that she is from Trinidad & Tobago as well as all my aunts and uncles. At one time or other my family and I were all close. I wanted nothing more than to hang out with my cousins and stay at their house and just have a good time. But for some weird reason my mother would not allow me to all the time. I always wondered why that is. As I got older and into my adult hood I figured it out. Now as I said before life has not always been easy for me or my mother. You would think that when times got hard that they would be there for you. In my case that did not happen.  This is how it all started, mother was or is a great provider for me and she did her very best for me growing up. We did not have a lot but we made the best of a bad situation and I never complained. If there was anything I could do I would. For me it included making her laugh rather than cry when things got really bad. There came a day when my mother was working at a day care that I attended with as a little girl. When she was working there she did not get paid a lot at all. It was so bad that she did not have enough money to pay the rent at our apartment. As a result we lost our apartment. To make maters worse I had no idea it happened until the day the management and cops showed up banging at our door and taking our things. (continued)

6)  Quebec Counts as US History Because Dr. Soldani Says So

I am a direct descendent of Louis Hebert, known for being one of the very first settlers of Quebec City, Canada. He was born in Paris in 1575, grew up and went to school in France where he took on tradition and followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a specialist in pharmacology, it also led to his increased interest in plants and farming. At the age of twenty- seven, he married his love, Marie Rollet and was already well known in Paris for being a medical professor and spice merchant. In 1604 European demand for fur was at an all time high and Louis decided to take up an opportunity with his cousin Pierre De Gue in going on an expedition to L’lle Sainte Croix where him and eighty other people would capture animals such as beavers and Minx for their fur and ship them back to Europe. However, during their first winter in Canada they lacked fresh water and also wood. Thirty-six of the eighty members perished due to scurvy because they were poorly nourished. (continued)

7) Abuelita

It all began with the birth of my grandmother, Martha. My grandmother was a very wise and strong women, and she always put her kids before herself. She had decided to leave Cuba in 1970 to escape communism. While under Cuban control my grandmother was given a specific career, no one was allowed to choose what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. (continued)

8) The One With Bon Jovi Playing for People Who Were Alive Then

            June 2, 1985 was a normal, non-memorable day for most people who were alive then. But not for my mother and her best friend. The two of them were driving along interstate 95 jamming out to some good old fashion ac/dc or Bon Jovi, when they hit traffic and didn’t think anything of it. Until suddenly they weren’t jamming anymore and class was flying everywhere with no idea where it had come from. My mom said she looked over even though she had glass in one eye and saw her friend was holding her face with blood coming from her nose. A bullet had gone through their window, grazed her friends nose and went under my mom’s chin (she was six foot so naturally she was too tall for it to hit her) and right out the other window. Six other cars were hit by these random bullets with no idea where they had come from. (continued)

9) Joe, Who Came to the US with $50

Joe’s whole family is Armenian. When his mom was carrying him his family had to move to Lebanon because the Turkish was invading Armenia. He then grew up in Lebanon, he went to school everyday with holes in his shoes that barely fit him and the same clothes every single day. His family was so poor; they couldn’t  afford anything at all. In sixth grade his parents made him drop out of school and start working to help make money for his family. He saved up all his money from work and bought a plane ticket to the United States of America, the land of opportunities. He arrived in New York on May 16th, 1971. Joe had fifty dollars in his pocket when he first landed. He was homeless for a little while and on the street looking for jobs. Luckily he found a job at a Mobile gas station. He literally worked there full-time, twenty-four hours every day. He worked as much as he could and finally became manager of the gas station and finally started making a decent amount of money…..(continued)

10) In His Own Words

My grandfather was a soldier in the Vietnam War. I often hear many interesting, sad, and hilarious stories about his time while he was overseas and traveling the world. My Uncle Tony just passed December 27, 2014, and we immediately made it to Nashville to see my grandparents and my cousin. So, of course many stories and memories were shared about my Uncle during this time. One of them, that I will never forget now, is the story of how he was required to fly back to the United States in order to marry my grandmother, because she found out that she was pregnant. The story below is told in his words: (While eating pie after dinner): You know—have I ever told you the full story about when I married your grandmother? (I answer no, just that it was shortly before or after he drafted.) Oh, well it’s an interesting one, that’s for sure. (Jokingly) Your Uncle was starting trouble before he was even born!  Well, I was in the mess hall one evening in Vietnam and was sitting with my new bunk mates. Suddenly, the main boss comes on the radio and demands to see me in his office. I thought he found out about some gambling we did last night, but it turns out he had much bigger problems on his hands. (laughs) He sat me down and immediately told me that my soon-to-be-mother-in-law was so upset about your grandmother being pregnant and not married that she would have moved f******* waters to get me back over there immediately for a wedding. She got so high up the ladder in the United States that the Red Cross contacted the head honcho and said that I needed to be on a plane within twenty four hours. He told me that I was going to be on a plane in the morning to fix this s*** storm that I just caused and that I better never do anything again to make the f******* Red Cross call him. (continued)

11) People Speak Nice and Slow For Me.

As you can tell I am not white, nor do I look anything like a white person. Many white people think I do not even speak English along with many black people. It is pretty funny actually, and rude at the same time when I am working and many elderly people, black or white, speak nice and slow for me. I guess they just think I am fresh off the boat or something, and when I mean fresh, I mean like I do not even know what the United States is, that type of fresh. Actually as many people like to stare at me and guess my race, some get what ethnicity I am immediately, while those just keep guessing and guessing. I finally get tired of the guessing game and saying no no no, that I finally blurt out what my ethnicity is even though it really is not anyone’s business people just like to be noisy. It is mostly Hispanics who get really confused because they think I am their kind. They always come up to me at work and is like “Habla espanol?” by this time I am just annoyed and scream out….(continued)
12) 1920s in West Virginia

I’m going to take you back in time to the late 1920's in the blue ridge mountains of West Virginia. Before my grandmother Helen was born in 1936, My Great Grandmother Lonnie Grimmet was married to a man by the name of Ernest Fox. She was Married to Ernest Fox before she met my grandmothers father Roy Bennet. I didnt know of this story in till about years ago. But in this story the morale is that some things happen for the better, no matter what the circumstance is. Some things happen at the right place and at the right time. So What happened is that Ernest Fox, the man my great grandmother met before she met my great grandfather Roy Bennet, Ran a bootlegging business in the dense forest near town there in Hinton. This was of course the time of prohibition, and alcohol was illegal of course. He aparently ran a decent sized business and made quite the profit. No surprise to me that was the Fox Family trade. Not only was alcohol illegal and profitable but there has never really been anything to profit from in that state. This would not last long, because  (continued)

13) Huntington, West Virginia

I have family in Huntington, West Virginia. I decided to tell about a family cemetery that I have been aware of that are around the area my family owns and lives on. It just so happens that if you take a walk down a path up the mountain near my grandma and grandpa’s house that you will arrive a cemetery on top of a mountain. Where several of my ancestors have been buried and some graves marked there even from the 1700’s. For those up there that are unmarked graves were most likely slaves who had rocks placed on their graves instead of headstones (continued)

14) 1980 Olympic Dreams

The family legend that I chose to tell involves my Aunt Shawn and how she made the Olympics in 1980. My Aunt Shawn is the oldest sibling out of the five kids in my dad’s family, and was a competitive swimmer throughout the early part of her life. Her swimming was so good that she got a scholarship to swim for Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. While at Auburn she became one of the top backstroke swimmers in the nation and qualified for the Olympic trials to try to get into the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow, Russia. At that time Russia was the Soviet Union and in the Cold war with us here in the United States. Swimming was also not the only thing she would get from Auburn, while there she met her future husband and she might not have realized at the time but her hometown for the next thirty years. After swimming her way through the trials she qualified to swim in the 1980 summer games in the Backstroke competition and our family would be able to say we had an Olympic Athlete in it. (continued)

15) A Man of Faith

When my grandfather was in his mid-30s, and just had his second child, he realized that he did not want his children and later grandchildren to have a mediocre life. He had always been a hard worker and was a natural salesman. He was already selling cars during this time and wanted to take it a step further by buying his own dealership. Years went by of saving money, learning the ins and outs of the business, and finding the right dealership to by. When he found the perfect fit in New Orleans, he moved the family from Birmingham, Alabama to work at his future dealership for three months before it was officially handed over to him. A week before the official transaction was to be made, the owner of the dealership backed out and did not want to sell. He was so distraught and did not understand why God would do this to him. He always kept his faith and did his best not to question Him…(continued)
16) WW2 in France

            It was during the year 1944. My grandfather on my father’s side was fighting in one of the biggest wars to ever occur. It was World War II and he had just landed on Normandy Beach the day after D-Day occurred. My grandfather William R Findley was a Technical Sergeant in the US Army during the war. He was in the 891st Ordnance heavy automotive maintenance company. The day he landed he followed General George Patton’s 3rd Army division group through Europe. When they came into the different towns throughout France they searched buildings and anything they thought Germans would be hiding in. There were these holes called Fox holes and the Germans used them to hide themselves, ammo, and weapons in. There was this one particular hole that my Grandfather liked to talk about. He had found this fox hole in the middle of nowhere. So he and soldiers went in to clear it out. What they had found was something supposedly really rare that everyone loves even still till this day….(continued)

17)  A Bit More

My great grandmother came from a family that had a bit more money than most African-Americans did in the early nineteen hundreds. My great grandmother was born in 1926. Her mother died from giving birth to her there so she did not have any milk from the mother to nuture her so they gave her juice from the sweet potatoes. (continued)

18) My Mom’s Driving Issues

            My family is originally from Haiti; they later moved to New York because they wanted a new life. My family consisted of my mother, father, her sister and brother and law.  My mother moved there in the 80s’ and spent five to six years there; she never learned to drive a car and never needed to because of New York’s transportation services. At some point my entire family decided that New York was not a great place to raise a family, and the weather and urban setting played a heavy role in them wanting to move. What my mother did not plan on was learning how to drive and her irrational fear, partly due to my uncle’s horrible teaching methods.  Upon moving to Florida, everyone in my family except my mom owned a car and had a driver’s license. My mother got around this by telling my father to drive her everywhere, and I mean everywhere. My father would take her to work, the grocery store, the mall, etc. It was not just my father, my mom got rides from my aunt and uncle as well.  No one seemed to be bothered with this task at first, my family knew pitching in was important since they just moved there. However, everyone did not care at first, but at some point everyone realized that she was stalling and did not want to learn. After weeks of nagging, my family somehow conceived my mother that it was necessary to get her license and a car. (continued)
19) Not Disney World but New York City

This is a story about a newlywed couple that comes together to change the world of a boy that they’ve never met. The first scene of this story involves a man, let’s call him Mike, and a restaurant in New York City. Mike was the middle son of two Italian Farmers from the beautiful island of Sicily. He came to the United States, Colorado to be specific, with aspirations like all newcomers of chasing the American Dream. While attending a University, Mike realized that the pursuit of a higher education wasn’t for him. So, he decided to take his talents to the place where dreams are made of; not Disney World, but New York City. The year is 1980 and we look back at Mike and see that he’s established and finally making some money. He picked up English and Spanish from working at the restaurant and acquired enough knowledge and capital to open his own place the Lions Den. Lets leave him here for right now. The second character in our little story is a girl named Victoria. She is your average Italian American girl. She grew up quite differently compared to Mike. The middle child of seven kids, she was an athlete and a scholar. Spending most of her time hitting the books and playing field hockey, she had all she needed to be successful in the world. (continued)

20) Moving South

            On Father’s Day of the year 1966, young and ambitious nineteen year old, Constance (better known as Connie) and her mother Willie Ward gave the best present to David, their father and husband. After living in Blackshear, Georgia for all of their lives, they agreed to pack up everything they owned, which wasn’t much and headed to the city of West Palm Beach, Florida. Living in West Palm Beach or any city, period, was simply just a dream that the Ward family had never actually imagined living out.  The Ward family consisted of husband and wife, David and Willie Ward, as well as their eight children, Connie being youngest.  For years, David was a sharecropper that could not seem to get out of debt no matter how had he tried. (continued)

21) Greatest Day to Ever Happen

The greatest day to ever happen, October 22, 1994, the day I was born. Usually when you hear kids talk about when their parents met it usually starts out with my parents met in high school or college or even after college. My parents are unique in the fact that my parents have known each other since my father was 10 years old. (continued)

22)  Reverend Mark Tennein, Maryknoll

I am choosing to tell the story about my Great Uncle, Father Mark Tennien who was a minister in China and wrote the book “No Secret is Safe” The story of his life has been told to me by my dad and grandfather many times and I wish I got the opportunity to meet Fr. Tennien.Fr. Tennien was born in 1900 and knew from an early age that he wanted to get involved in ministry and the business of priesthood. He attended Holy Cross college then eventually became ordained under the Maryknoll missionary movement. He was assigned to minister in China in 1928 and was there for 20 years. During this time Fr. Tennien helped many and my grandfather would always tell me what a great man he was. His duties included giving services to the locals and lead the confession. This was not an easy time to be in China as the communist regime was in power and Mao Zedong was taking over. Fr. As part of their regime they wanted complete control over the religious prowess in the country and made sure that they had complete authority.  The communist regime was not a fan of Christianity and did everything to ensure that it was oppressed. This included the imprisonment of most ministers and figures of Christian authority in China at this time. Fr. Tennien  was held in a Chinese prison camp and tortured during this time. This treatment was similar to what happened in Nazi Germany, where innocent people were tortured simply for what they believe. This was a severe test of faith for him and many would likely not have stayed the course. My grandfather would say you have to find the good in everything, and I guess the good in that was how it strengthened his faith and helped make him the man he was. (continued)

            23) From Vietnam to Iraq

Shortly after his sophomore year in college Dad was drafted into the military and sent to Vietnam to fight and protect our great nation.  While over there Dad saw his share of his fellow troops and most of his friends that he grow up with and went to school serving in combat with him some of them made it back alive while others lost their lives. He also told me about the dugout holes where they would stay camped out waiting for the enemy to arrive that way they could attack them and take them out (continued)

24) Of course she still ate it, but in private.

I am one fourth Japanese, and my grandmother is full. She would always tell me stories of what it was like to be in Japan before and after World War II.  Because she does not speak English without a thick accent, and she only has a standard vocabulary, she was not able to elaborate a whole lot. I was able to understand and interpret what she was trying to say as this:
 While they were at schools and on the streets American soldiers would always hand out candy to the children to be nice because no one likes war and children do not need to be exposed to the nature of them. My grandmother, being a child, loved this. She had never seen any kind of American candy before and was excited to receive it. When she would bring the candy home and show her parents her mother would become very angry and say, “Don’t eat that candy, Americans are bad, and that’s poison.” Of course she still ate it, but in private. (continued)

25) Gaetano DeVita touched American soil for the first time in 1913

            Gaetano DeVita touched American soil for the first time in 1913, all the way from the city of Marsala, located in the Italian providence of Trapani, on the west coast of Sicily. Hoping to make a new life for himself and his family he came to America to find work, for in Sicily the economy had plummeted and there was no work to be found. As he wrote his name in the book on Ellis Island, the Americans knew that it would be hard for my great-great grandfather to find work with a name like that. To make matters easier, they changed his name to what Gaetano translates to in America, Thomas. Thomas settled in Brooklyn working as a craftsman while waiting for my great-great grandmother, Giovanna. In 1915 it was Giovanna’s turn to experience Ellis Island with a small child and an infant, my great grandfather Frank. (continued)

26) The Vacation That Never Ended
Around late 1950's Modesto, Lourdes and their son Antonio Estrada fled Cuba to America. The way that my grandparents fled was by pretending to go on a vacation to America (Miami, Fl.) and just never returning. My grandparents got out of Cuba before Castro gained total control. The turning point for them was when my Abuela was cooking dinner and my uncle Antonio was playing in the living room and a gun shot went right through their window, From then on they knew they needed to get the hell out of there. (continue)
27) From the Peruvian Air Force to US Citizen

Back in the early 1980s my mother, Giselle, and my aunt, Medalit, served in the Air Force in Peru. My mom and aunt were part of the first battalion of women soldiers in the city where they were born named Chiclayo. They gave a major contribution to the air force and the positions they held. The Air Force was divided into different divisions, the division my mother worked in was the administration field where all the workers were technicians who fixed planes. She would go to them when there was orders for parts and get all parts for specific planes. She also did physical training and acted out combats to improve skills and defense. She spoke of being taught to shoot automatic machines and to fly a simulator mirage. Out of 100 woman serving, my mother won number one soldier in the division. Her experience was astonishing and amazing, she grasped so much knowledge and techniques.  One of her major dreams was to come to the United States and in serving, this gave her the courage and strength to pursue to come to the United States and start a new chapter in her life. (continued)

28) Puerto Rico to New York during WW2

My grandfather was born in 1913, in Puerto Rico. Many years later, he met a girl in Coamo (the south of the island, near his hometown). In 1940, my aunt Annie was born, a year later my uncle Billy was born as well. During these years, many Puerto Ricans were going to New York for better opportunities. Since my grandfather already knew how to talk English, in 1943, while WW2 was taking place, he bravely went to New York alone to work as a welder for battleships in the New York port, leaving his kids and the mother of his children back home. My grandfather used to say that they told him not to take too much, just the important stuff. As they went to New York, the ship was surrounded by destroyers to protect the ship because Puerto Rico was considered a strategic place and people knew that the ship took specialized workers. After working for almost a year and a half in a shipyard, when winter came, the cold of the river was too cold and he couldn’t stand it. (continued)
29) It all started in 1956: From Arkansas to Florida
It all started in 1956. Annette was born. She is the fourth child of 8 children. Four boys, and four girls. Annette was born in Arkansas. While growing up in Arkansas her and her sisters had a separate room from her brothers.  Annette’s mom was a maid at a hotel and her dad was a truck driver. During elementary and high school Annette went to segregated schools. This lasted until 1972. In 1969 Annette and her family moved to Florida. They moved into a one bedroom. I don’t know how they managed to do it but they made it work. (continued)

29) Antigua to America

My mom came from Antigua Barbuda in the year of 1986. At the time when she came to America she had 4 children and no job or a home that she can called her own; luckily she had a friend in America that she had knew from Antigua her name was Denise and too this day they are still very good friends. While living in antigua my mom had a very hard up Bringing. Life was not sweet growing up in Antigua for my mom had four children by the age of 24 all of them from different fathers, she raised her children single all by her self single with no husband. I have never met her mom which Is my grandmother or her father my granddad before they passed away, but I sure do wish I could've met them.  (continued)