English 11: Writing Portfolio
Catholic Memorial High School
The small green package gives the impression that it is decades old. The material feels old and worn and the print is fading. The color is not pure and it is aging by the day. The small cigarette package is covered in plastic wrap and reads 20 Cigarettes inside. It is nailed to the wall in my basement right over the workbench where the tools are kept. The look of the package and the brand gives me the hint that it was available when my mother and father were younger because it is not around today. More the thought of it belonging to my father because my mom rarely uses the workbench. The spot on the wall has no significance and it shows no sign that it is supposed to be there.
The package was given to my father when he was a young boy. He was given the package by an old mysterious man who always sat on the bench beside the local corner store in Holbrook, Massachusetts. The man was a shady character. He was tall, lanky but very burly and wore a long coat and a top hat. That day my father decided to take a seat next to the man. As he sat down the man was smoking a pipe. He then began to converse with small talk and then the man offered him a pack of cigarettes, but Ed refused. It happened day in and day out so finally Ed took a pack. Ed could not think of a legit reason why this man wanted him to have the pack so bad. He figured that there must be something more behind just the cigarettes. The man was pleased that he took it and then got up and walked away. Ed, figuring that there was nothing but cigarettes inside, so he never opened them. Not knowing what to do with them, he took them home and hid them in his top drawer. He put them in a sock under his t-shirts so his mom would not find them. The next day he decided to go back to the store. When he got there, the man was right in the same spot with the same cloths as he had the first time Ed saw him. My dad, thinking he was a strange man tried to avoid him but he called Ed over and told him to sit down.
Ed sat down next to him. Not knowing what to say he decided to let the old man make the first conversational move. Ed tried as hard as he could not to let the man know too much about him because Ed knew nothing about him. He couldnt make out his entire face, just his eyes and mouth as he puffed away on his pipe. He began talking to my father about life. He asked what he did and where he went to school. Ed answered, and then quickly moved onto a question for him, not giving him any time to ponder the fact. Ed asked why was he always there, and what was he doing? The man answered him in the simplest of forms. His answers were either yes or no. Ed found out that he was originally from Canada and that he had no family left. He did not even have a home here in the USA. As they talked and talked Ed kept probing deeper and deeper into his earlier life. Just then Ed realized that it was getting late and that his mother would be worried if he didnt return home soon. The man told Ed to come back tomorrow to finish the conversation.
On the walk home Ed began to think to himself. He felt bad for the old man and wondered why he never saw him talking to anyone else. He wondered why he came to Holbrook and why he left Canada. All these questions agitated Ed. When he got home he went right up stairs. He went right to his top drawer and pulled out the package. He sat on his bed and began scrutinizing the package. He noticed that the package had been opened and it felt too light to have twenty cigarettes inside. He noticed that on the pack the tab had been taped shut. He began to unpeel the tape, but then heard the stairs creaking and it was his mother. He quickly rushed the package back to the drawer so his mom would not catch him with cigarettes. His mother came in and sat down next to him. She started talking to him about his day and what he did. Ed, too scared to tell his mother about the man, kept it a secret from her.
Later that night he was alone in the room, so he decided to go back in the drawer for the package. When he pulled the tape off of the seal there were not any cigarettes like he guessed. Instead there was a letter. Ed unfolded the paper to find a paragraph written in what it looked like to be French. Ed was unable to translate what it said. With this bothering him he was frustrated and it took him a while to fall sleep. The next morning came and he went off to school. He told his mom that he was going to stay after for extra help so expect him later than usual.
When the school day ended, Ed was eager to board the bus and get off at the local corner store. As the bus got nearer and nearer the traffic began to back up. It took a good 10 minutes of waiting in traffic until the bus finally reached a total stop and he was let off. As he hit the pavement he realized that there were multiple police cars and ambulance. As he walked closer he realized that there was a body on a stretcher being lifted onto the ambulance. Ed could not see who it was until he noticed the big black coat, the same coat the old man was wearing. Ed was in shambles. He wanted more information so he asked a police man who it was. The officer told him that it was an elderly man who had had a heat attack and was pronounced dead when they got there. As he asked him he realized that the officer was holding his wallet and a piece of paper similar to the one that he gave Ed. Eds heart dropped. Now he would never know who the man was and why he gave the paper to him.
Realizing that he told his mother he would be late, he could not go home right away. Ed decided to walk to the library and check out a few books on the French language. Ed then walked home distraught because he could not unscramble what the letter said. He knew he could not show his parents or the police yet because he thought he would get in trouble. He kept it a secret but it still bothered him.
Days past and still Ed heard nothing on the subject. He began feeling guilty in some ways and threatened in others because he did not know what the letter said. That afternoon after school he decided to go to the police station. As Ed walked though the doors he came to the front desk and presented the letter to the clerk behind the counter. The clerk read it and asked where he had gotten it. Ed told him the story and the man escorted Ed to an empty room. He had Ed fill out a card with his parents phone numbers and there names. He told Ed that another officer would be with him shortly and that his parents were being called. Ed began to get nervous and started crying when the man left the room. He contemplated on running out but the door was locked. Five minutes later, the police chief walked in. He told Ed that his parents would be arriving shortly and that he should not be upset. A couple of minutes later his parents arrived and the police chief told them to be seated. The police chief then told them a background of the old man and told him that the letter he gave to their son, Ed, was actually a letter that told some interesting stuff on it. He told Ed and his family that the man had died and that he had no one left whom he was family with. The letter that he gave to Ed contained his will. On the letter, it allowed Ed the right to inherit twenty thousand dollars that was stored away in a bank. The police chief then let his parents know, so that the money could be transferred into their account as soon as they wanted it to be. Ed and his family were speechless and did not know how to react. Ed told his parents how he met the man and then told the police chief that they would only accept one quarter of the sum and the other parts be sent to charities.
To this day the package still hangs in my cellar basement on the wall above the workbench. Ed was very grateful of the man and his offerings. The only thing that my dad would have changed was to have better known the man.
The spot that I have chosen to write about is a wide-open field found in Milton, Massachusetts. This secluded pasture is located near the Canton line; it is a street off of Canton/Milton route 138 near the blue hills. On my way to school I drive by this lively place everyday. In the morning I usually see family of deer or turkey and I always see birds. The one thing that I rarely see is a human. By the time I am coming home, usually around three or four and the night is arriving fast the animals are scarce and the field looks as if it is sleeping.
The first day I traveled to the Pasture to find nothing but life. It is a brisk autumn day and the wind is blowing the dead leaves all over the place. The huge Oak in the middle of the field is scattering acorns to the squirrels below as they scavenge for their last meals before hibernation. The spot in which I am standing limits me to my viewing of what is beyond the hill at the top because from the road I can only see the roof of what it looks to be a rather large but old house. The smoke coming from the chimney gives me the thought that it would be old. As I stand there the man made stonewall almost gives me the sense that it does not want this part of earth to be connected with the field. The passing cars and the tranquility of the field do not seem to mix in my mind. Although the field is quiet, there is life everywhere. The flocks of crows at the top of the Oak are crowing as if to say to everyone that they are the champs. They are bullies yet cowards in ways that only can be seen. The howling wind reflects all the middle class workers in America in so many ways. People know that they are there but they really dont stop to take the time to recognize them because they are so caught up in so much else. The pasture is filled with so many seeds, seeds that can be built up or broken down into things that people hardly even notice.
The second day in which I traveled to the Pasture it was raining. The rain gave a gloomy outlook on the whole field because with the clouds in the sky and no sun it shed nothing but doom down on the field. There was no life when I stopped. The only movements came from the trees that were blown by the wind. The Huge Oak looked like a small boat being tossed around at sea by a hurricane. At that point I realized that the wind was the only thing that could ruin the landscape of that field that day. The way in which it was ripping the leaves from the tree resembled a terrorist who takes the lives of many which out having to do a whole lot. The long goldish-yellow grass were taking a beating as it began to hide from what was to come, the winter. The rain made the grass weak and every raindrop that hit it put more weight on the fragile blade. Next came the leaves as it blanketed the grass almost as if it were protecting it like my house to me. The sign that winter was upon us and that everything was changing brought the thought that I too had to start changing as well. The Oak gave the sign that the fall season was coming to a close and that the dead season would soon be upon us.
The winter came the next week and the snow fell for the first time leaving behind about six inches. The grass seemed as if it were trying to take one last breath before it went under for the rest of the winter. The strongest blades of grass stood strong and proud while the other ones wilted and bent. The Oak looked alive again as it flourished with white and icicles hung like twigs. The first sign of life in a while was left behind in the snow. The footprints from small humans offered the advice that the field was still alive. The footprints left behind looked as if they were trying to tell the others something. They were like a path in society where no one created their own path and everyone just followed the leader. There were other prints as well. There were hoof markings from large deer and small dog or squirrel tracks. The road leading up to the house was plowed and it resembled the field closely. If gave off the impression that the life was coming back.
My fourth trip to the Canton Avenue Pasture gave me the sense that life was restored almost entirely. Except for the Oak being leave-less the snow was beginning to fade and the blades of grass that were once wilting were soon standing proud once again. The bark on the tree began crumbling and pealing. I too feel that way that sometimes I am pealed back from the things I love as well. Instead of the flock of crows sitting atop the Oak there were a smaller bird. A flock of sparrows or perhaps chickadees perched singing their tunes to the Sun as it beamed down upon them. For the first time I stood there and noticed the first sign of outside life to come into the place. A Small USPS truck was slowly making its way back down the road. At that point it seemed like the wall was beginning to crumble almost as the Great Wall of China did. This wall seemed as if it blocked out the outside world to nature but after watching that tuck it seemed as if it opened up a new respect for nature and brought the human life together with that of Animals.
My last and final trip to the Pasture showed signs of nothing but death. Snow had fallen days before and in a great amount. The field was covered completely including the branches of the oak that stood idol as if it were just accepting the death. There was no wind and soon icicles would be there only leaves that hung from the tree. The birds had gone and there were no signs of mammals anywhere. Beyond the wall cars crept on the snow covered road but none of them stopped to admire the tranquility of the pasture where not a tread was left. Each unique snowflake fell and built up on one another to form one just like a foundation of a new establishment being built. One by one, piece-by-piece the snow built up and the grass was covered. Standing at the edge of this field alone gave me the impression that no one appreciated what nature offers us and the peace that it gives off.
The peaceful field off of route 138 made me gain a certain kind of respect for nature. It gave me the feeling that there is so much life other than just the ones people see in cities and neighborhoods. Life is everywhere and this Pasture made me realize that peace can be found in the world even though so much bad is going on. It was almost like God created this picture for special people to some notice it and realize what else the world has to offer. When humans are destroying wilderness for the construction of homes and new establishments they ruin peace. Peace is hard to find in a world where there is so much hate today, but I found peace just a mile down the street from my house.
This 19th century poet related most of his life with his work. Edgar Allen Poe wrote many short stories and poems. His poems are what he is recognized mostly for. In his poem To One in Paradise, Poe chooses a unique rhyming scheme as well as different 19th century endings to make his writing one of a kind. Poe, who later in his career became depressed, showed his happier side as he wrote about how one reaches that stage of perfection later in life. This poem clearly describes his thoughts through large descriptive words that he chose that would fit well in his educated writing skills. Through his writing you can tell that he was well educated, with the amounts of words he skillfully chooses to complete each verse. Poe uses a lot of thought when creating works of art such as this poem, and by reading it over and over again you begin to understand it better each time. Poes work requires a lot of thinking while reading it and the reader becomes one with the poem as they get into it.
The first of the two literally devices I have picked up on that is clearly evident throughout the poem is Poes rhyme scheme. He rhymes everyone other line in To One in Paradise. I believe that a lot can be learned from this because you, as the reader end up picking up on a lot of things that can go unnoticed. He uses these so carefully that when read, you understand the things that Poe wants stressed. This poem is a very peaceful and enjoyable one and the reader can tell this because of the words of happiness that he repeats over and over again. The words that he rhymes are all joyful words such as in the first stanza he rhymes the words shrine and love. You are also able to tell that the poem is meant for happiness because of the other words that he uses as well. The words flowers and the sea are also used to set a peaceful scene. After reading the poem you would never think that Poe went through a depressing stage in his life.
The next device the Poe chooses to use so wisely are the 19th century words that readers today usually do not see. Words such as alas and oer are used in the poem to give the reader a better understanding of what education was like back when he wrote. When Poe uses these words, the reader usually goes and reads them over twice just to better understand the concept in which he trying to put into use. Also in the poem he decides to repeat words as well. I find that by doing this, he tries to stress the fact that the reader needs to gather everything that is around it. Poe writes and uses everything for a reason in his poems and if you pick up one these devices you truly understand that there is a reason for everything. At first it is hard to understand and that seems to be the way he writes but it is simple to understand after the reader comprehends his skills.
In conclusion Edgar Allen Poe makes the reader of his poems understand his unique education. Every word that Poe uses in his Poems are there for a reason and it never seems like he puts a word in there just because he feels it takes up space. He chooses every word wisely and only puts words together so that they blend into what are his poetic masterpieces. His rhyme scheme and the 19th century words he uses are extremely noticeable when the poem is read. Poe wants that to be known and investigated. Behind every piece of his work there is a universe of things waiting to be discovered.
The non-contact sport of basketball was created by a Canadian born man named James Naismith in 1891. The Ontario born inventor later attended a college in Springfield, Massachusetts and perfected the game. At first it was played in small neighborhood surroundings and later blossomed into what is now a must watch for people all over America and the world. Today basketball can be found in almost every city in America, where pick-up games are played in the local parks and recreational leagues take place. Basketball, which has two professional leagues in North America (NBA and WNBA), has a team in 28 out of the 50 states and in 2 of the 7 provinces of Canada. America is home to the most popular and toughest league in the world and that is clearly evident in the Olympics. The United States, up until the last summer Olympics, had won every gold medal in the years in which the event was held. Today the Nation Basketball Association hall of fame can be found in Springfield, Massachusetts as well. Basketball, which was once just found in North America, has now taken center stage in the world atmosphere of competitive sports.
The National Basketball Association or NBA was developed in the late 1940’s. In America during that time it did not take center stage right away. It competed with baseball and hockey as well as track and field. Today it is viewed by many as the top sport, but there are still some who disagree. In a poll taken by ESPN, basketball is the 4th most watched in American, behind NASCAR, NFL, and Baseball. It can easily be said that every player that is playing today in the NBA all came up and developed their skills the same way, playing in the local parks. Miami Heat forward Shaq told one interviewer from ESPN that he would play everyday in the summer. He would be at the park everyday at 10am and wouldn’t return home until it was dark and then he would do it again and again (50). Each professional team competes in a 70 game schedule that occurs during the moths of October through June. Almost every game of a top team is sold out. In Los Angeles, the home of the LA Lakers floor seats can go for over a thousand dollars and they still sell out. That right there goes to show you that basketball is popular throughout the United States.
Before a player enters the pros, he probably goes though two or three years of Division I NCAA College Basketball. There are over 150 teams in the Division I college level, each filled with players that dream of playing in the pros but only a certain amount with make it. With the growth of new world players and a select few high school players the amount of college athletes chosen take up about 75% of the draft. That means that out of the 400 or so athletes that are playing for the next level only about a hundred are taken. Each College player dreams of playing at the next level but before that they came from high schools and before they got to college they dreamed of playing for that big Division I team. Each and every player always dreams of playing at that next level. Yao Ming told reporters that before he became the first world player taken number one overall in the 2003 NBA draft, he always dreamed of playing at a good college or profession status (18). Every college player plays for the rankings and the national championship held at the end of every season. In a poll in which I took in school here, out of ten that were asked eight people preferred college basketball instead of the NBA. Most of the people said it because of the style that is played. Others liked it because of the players and that they are playing for a team instead of themselves. Either way, college or professional, basketball is on the rise in America. Almost any night during the seasons, you could turn on a sports channel and a basketball game would be on.
Across the United States you could take a poll and it could be easy t say that probably 75% once played or tried out for their high school basketball teams. In high school, sports are a big deal. To most high schools basketball is a sport where the alumni and most of the town can’t miss. Each player playing for their school and town. Before a player even thinks about the pros they want to go to a Division I College. In high school it is very common for one team to have a very good player, but here at CM we had a couple. Chris Fitzpatrick a junior at CM and captain of next year’s team was asked why he played the game. “I play the game for many reasons, for my school, to represent my family, and to get that chance to play at the college level. Almost any high schooler you ask wants to play at that next level or they would not waste their time. High school basketball is one of America’s pastimes as thousands fill the gym in their respective home towns to come and watch their teams. High school basketball has grown significantly in the past five years as it has produced seven games which were televised on ESPN.
Today in America basketball is the most popular among children ages six through their early teens. In the summer you could walk through any park and you could probably see a pick up game taking place. Today there are several thousand leagues across America that are held for kids learning how the game is played. This most publicly known league is that of AAU. The American Athletic Union. This league is an elite league that is prominent in two out of every three states. This league is a travel league for the advanced and it is a step under high school ball. Many kids who end up going on to private high school and then division I colleges are first noticed in this league. Chris Fitzpatrick said, “AAU was the most helpful league I played in, to get me where I am today. I think that if you want to go on to playing in the next levels (high school, college and maybe even the pros) you should really tryout for the select AAU teams.” Chris then went on to say that out of the twelve kids on his team he thinks that at least seven of them played in select AAU leagues. Even though the kids are only in there early teens, at a national AAU championship game there would be over 200 college scouts there watching.
Since being invented in Canada and America basketball has taken to the world scene. In the summer Olympics it is a top watched sport. Even in the NBA there have been more world players chosen in the draft year after year. Yao Ming a number one pick over all by the Houston Rockets told a reporter that, “The rockets have become very popular in my home town of china. We’re on TV a lot. The rockets also share the same colors as the Chinese National team so people love the rockets.” It is evident that basketball has grown nationally too. Last summer Olympics the United States Lost and did not even qualify for the gold medal game. They were beaten in pool play and had to settle for a bronze medal. That right there goes to show you that basketball has gone national and it is not just the Americans game anymore.
Basketball can be found in every city across America. Even in the poorest cities people still manage to play it because of what little equipment it takes to be played. In a sport in which was invented by a man from Canada, America adapted to it and it is now one of the five highest watched and attended sports in America. With two professional leagues, over 300 NCAA teams, and high schools all over America with competitive teams I would have to say that basketball has become a national pastime and a must watch spectacle. Every American can comment on the sport whether or not they like it is up to them, but to have each of them be able to comment on the sport tells you a lot about it. Basketball has a very bright future and the way I see it basketball is on a steady rise and I do not see it coming down anytime soon.