English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2006-2007

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  The Wooden Beasts

One day as I was up in my attic I came upon an old brown bad I had never seen before. So when I
brought out of the dark musty attic and into my bedroom I opened it up and I found this old wooden
carved object. I blew the dust off of it for further inspection. It seemed to be a tiger or some
kind of beast. It was very coarse, and it was extremely light. It had spot on the front of it but
not on the back, it looked like the tail had broken of over the years of my attic. I was very
intrigued by this sculpture and went down to ask my mom about it. My mom said she really did not
know what it was or who made it, she said its just been passed down generation to generation. She
said the family rumor is that one of my ancestors either carved it during a war or it was carving
for him during a war, but no one knew exactly what it was and I was very interested in its past.
When I asked my mom about the objects shed said the guys name who made it was rumored to be a man by the name of Johnny Walsh and this is how rumor has it.


John Walsh was a Massachusetts colonist from England. He was one of the most dedicated men to the
colonies. When the Sugar Act was passed he made sure he and his family obeyed the rebel, one hundred
percent, no exceptions. Johnny was not the tallest man, probably 5’6 to 5’7 but he was big. He had
brownish hair and gigantic ears. He wanted the colonies to be treated fairly however his native
country was not treating them fairly. He had one weakness however he hated animals or as he called
them, “beasts”.


So when America started War with Great Britain, Johnny was in full support. He took place in the
battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. He was so dedicated to his new land that he even went beyond
the Massachusetts militia, and went to fight in different colonies with George Washington. Whenever
he went to a new place he would see different “beasts”, and would run away. One of the generals,
General Clerk recognized this as a problem and told Johnny that he had to get over his fears maybe
he could draw them or something artsy. So that’s when Johnny began carving his enemies. Whenever he
saw one, that night he would sit around the fire and carve it, and then he would draw details with
the ash of the fire. He would then decorate it to make it joyful and not scary. When he was done
he’d put it face down and leave it there. Over the years the sun faded the back of the animal and
all the decorations would disappear on the backside. Sometimes Johnny would bring these carvings
sometimes he’d leave them where he made it.


On the way back to his home in Concord, Massachusetts he disappeared. That same general, who taught
him to conquer his fears, brought one of the beasts to Johnny’s family. Through the years it has
been passed through generation and ended up in basement. That is to my moms best knowledge, but who
knows it could have been from the guy who owned the house before my family.

 

   
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  My land I observe and pass by every day of my life is “The Oak Yard”. Not many people come here and
if they do, it is not to admire he beauty of it. However I see something in this land that no one
sees. It is about 5 minutes away from Catholic Memorial and I visit every day. It grows on you,
every day you notice something new and unique about it. I would love to spend all my time here
however I could not in today’s society. I will look more closely at it and I will share my
experiences.

“The Oak Yard” is quite bare and deserted. There are no more leaves on the enormous tree that hangs
over the bay window. Most of the leaves are in the corner of the wooden and chain linked fence or
they are scattered throughout the yard. You can tell that the ground is frozen like a rock. The bird
bath is virtually empty, and every once and a while you can see a squirrel hop through the land
looking for some food, but eventually it will jump across the wood fence and onto the telephone
wires over the road in a sense of failure. The little plants along the house are still alive and
they are next to the gravel walkway. The sun strikes down and hits the big tree and it seems to
reflect and brighten the whole yard. I look up and see a bright blue sky with very puffy clouds.
Although it is quite cold and everything seems to be dying, the yard is still beautiful almost as
beautiful as in springtime. Our society almost never looks at the positive; we focus too much on the
negative side of things. There is still beauty in this land and I think society should step out of
its limits and agree with me. It is a different scene there is no bright colors or any of that but
it is gorgeous. Just like all humans might not be looking beautiful, but they can be beautiful in
the inside.

The beautiful land is amazing once again. The sun is currently dissenting. There are still some
signs of the snowfall a couple nights ago. It comes and goes in patches across the grass and it
hangs on the beams of the fence. Even the birch in the corner has white glistening ice on it. It
looks immaculate where the sun shines on it. I can smell a wood burning that is across the road. The
only thing I can hear is an occasional car that passes by. When I bend down to feel the ground, it
feels like a rock. This small glimpse of snow makes me feel like I am living in a perfect winter
wonderland, where kids can make snowmen and snow angels. These days however we as a society treat
the winter as a time of getting gigantic presents, when I believe the greatest present we can get is
the nature that surrounds us. Unlike holiday presents that we could be hoping and might not receive,
the nature never seems to fail us.

I did not have time to visit the yard until the sun had already set. As I sat on the creaky wood
stairs I could see shadows of the monster oak from the moonlight. The moonlight also left shadows of
the fence and bushes. As I gazed up, I could see giant oaks that seemed to be floating and swaying
in the night. There were leaves stuck in the rusty fence. I could also see light from the other
houses through cracks of the wooden fence. I smelled a fireplace burning which was probably heating
a family. I listened carefully to hear leaves rustling which seemed to be coming from the corners,
but could not tell exactly in the darkness. I reached over to pick up a rock but it would not move,
because it was frozen to the ground. I could still hear the fence creaking. Nighttime to me is a
very beautiful time but these days people treat it as a time for crime that spoils it for the rest
of us. Although it is very dark outside, the moon lights up the yard, like Nature lights up my
world.

This week I look over the yard and I can see signs of darkness and other signs of the coming winter.
As I look up hoping to see bright skies and white clouds, I am disappointed. All the leaves that use
to make the oak flourish are in a pile in the corner, looking dead and pathetic. The once green
grass is becoming brown. You can hear no birds only the rustling of leaves. I realize soon this yard
will be a fresh white color and I will enjoy any warmth I can get. When the world is down we need
people to step up and be heroes. The bush in the corner still has its green color and I hope like
that bush, I can stay focused and beautiful even when my surroundings seem to be losing life. The
bush is the winter’s hero.

Winter is supposed to be in full effect at this time. Just a week before Christ’s birthday the sun
is warm. There are no signs of life however. I hear no birds or any other animals. I hear the wind
blow every once and a while. Sticks are falling off the trees along with leaves. The grass is
becoming dirt. The sun beats down in certain places. The sky is grey with no clouds. The bark of the
tree is beginning to peel off and turn to orange. It is suppose to be freezing to normal standards
but it is very warm. Like winter, in our lives we should not always expect the worse because there
are times of warmth and happiness even in the most depressing times like this day is to winter.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Stephen Crane is a well known American Literature author. He wrote works when naturalism
and realism were just being introduced in American Literature. He also wrote during the Spanish
American War. Crane was an author, who wrote about his life experiences. For example his most famous
work, "The Open Boat", one of the characters, the correspondent is said to suppose to be
Crane. Another work by him, "An Episode of War" portrays a nameless army lieutenant being
wounded and in search of a medical tent. Crane shows his life experiences well in this because all
though he was never in the army, he did witness the Spanish American War for his journalist job in
Cuba. Crane is very good at portraying the violence and gruesome side of war as well as everyday
life of war. He also shows the unfairness of war.

Crane portrays war and all its unfair characteristics through a comparison to sound or
music. It is a weird comparison to make, when I think of war the first thing I think of is certainly
not sound. "The sound of it was a war-chorus that reached into the depths of man's
emotion." He is saying that war is like a song with all the explosions and shooting, and that
every man deep down hates this song, and they just want it to end. He goes on to say, "He
turned his eyes toward the battle where the shooting sometimes
crackled like bush-fires, sometimes sputtered with exasperating irregularity, and sometimes
reverberated like the thunder." Here he makes a reference to sound, the shooting is cracking,
you can imagine that more than just shooting. Through sound he brings war almost to us as if we are
there.

Crane also portrays the brutality of war through every day life of war especially using dialogue.
Although this work only happens in a couple of hours, you can get a sense that it is terrible
non-stop. Crane writes, "His tone allowed one to think that he was in the habit of being
wounded every day." I know when I get hurt I am yelling or screaming, people in war are not
surprised, they just accept it in pity. "And this is the story of how the lieutenant lost his
arm. "Oh, well, I don't suppose it matters so much as all" he said." If anyone
lost an arm he would be terribly mad, but this soldier who of course is brave but he knew what he
was getting himself into with war. He knew it was unforgiving. There is not much dialogue un this
story but the few examples show an unfairness of war.

Crane shows the gruesome side of war through characterization, or lack of it. In this story we only
know one main character, "the lieutenant", he does not even have a name. This shows that
war will take anybody know matter who you are. He is pretty high ranked In the military and still
can be hurt. It never says what country he fights for or even what war it is. He just shows how
violent war can be. This is how Crane feels about every war, no matter why its being fought.

In conclusion I believe Crane demonstrates war as being violent through many literary examples,
including sound or music, everyday life in war, dialogue, and a lack of characterization. Crane
really does show how brutal and violent war is, and his hatred for it. Since he never mentions any
details about the war in the story.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sport is an athletic activity requiring skill, physical ability and often of a competitive
attitude. Volleyball was invented in Holyoke, Massachusetts by William G. Morgan in 1895.
Volleyball today is one of the top five international sports. The object of the game is there are
two teams on each side of a net. The other team must try to hit it so the other team cannot hit it
back, within certain boundaries. The game is up to 25 points and it is usually best of 5 games.
Unusual rules that Americans might not know are that you only have 3 hits to get it over the net.
You may hit the ball with any body part if necessary. Also a player is not allowed to hit the ball
the twice in a row. Volleyball is not one of the top 5 sports in America today but I still believe
it is a very “American Sport” because it is taught and played at many high schools all across the
country, it is being played by the American kids in the schools, and in other children based
leagues. It is not a sport you can just play without knowing what to do like soccer, or basketball.
Volleyball requires teaching by others, and the act of showing kindness to teach someone else is a
great quality of the USA.

The game of volleyball is extremely fast paced. It is a game based completely of instinct and
reactions. It is a very exciting event to watch, and almost an art. The game is based, like many
American sports, off the fundamentals. If you do not know the basics of the game, you will never win
a match. However unlike other sports, you are always on offense and defense, at any time the ball
can just switch sides unexpectedly. You need to be able to put your mistakes behind you. In
volleyball there are many point streaks, you always need to keep your head in the game.

I interviewed ten men and women of different ages and backgrounds. I got mixed reactions on
volleyball. 80% of the people thought volleyball was American for different reasons. James O’Malley
born in Ireland said, “I had never heard of volleyball, until I came to the states”. Brendan
Connell a twenty-two year old said, “Because it is played on the beach”. When I asked if people
enjoyed volleyball five people said they did not like it. And when asked “Is volleyball American
because we go back and forth, up and down, but our lives are always exciting, almost everyone
hesitantly agreed.

I then proceeded to find out more about volleyball and peoples opinions of it. I had an
interview with a CM amateur, Kiefer Gonzalez. Kiefer Gonzalez is a starter on the Catholic Memorial
varsity volleyball team, and a major contributor to the team. “I first started playing at CM, I
didn’t have a spring sport, so I decided to tryout for volleyball”. His favorite player is Jason
Connell. He said, “Americans are good at volleyball because of our height, diversity of talent and
the steroids”. He did not think the sport was American.

As Kiefer Gonzalez hopes to be one day. Professional volleyball player, Timothy Hughes also was
able to give me his opinion on the game. He says, "The game of volleyball is definitely
growing, I can even see it through my experiences as assistant coach of the Catholic Memorial team,
each year more and more players come out to play". Hughes says he first got into the game
because he was tall and thought it would be a port for him. He says volleyball is American because,
"It is an enjoyable activity but yet extremely competitive. Hughes currently is getting ready
to travel to Scotland for a Division 2 Olympic Tournament. The sport is a very global sport and is a
main sport in the Olympics.

Volleyball appears in a poem, “Mennonite Girls at Beach Volleyball” by Len Krisak. It is a
poem that shows how volleyball is a fun activity like by all, but very competitive. “Or Mother
Hubbard?-springs to drive a spike. The game seems pointless. And yet a dozen bonnets all alike. Lift
up and scan the sky as if it counts, Yes it really counts”. Krisak is trying to say that all though
these girls are acting like they do not care, they all want to win. That is truly the attitude of
Amerians. America is a very competitive country.

I believe that volleyball is definitely not a popular in America today. But after looking at all
my interviews, I can see that it is definitely growing in popularity. As Kiefer Gonzalez said,
"The future of volleyball is that more people are playing". Both amateurs and
professionals agree that there is an increasing amount of new players. This will most likely make
more people enjoy the game. And hopefully when asked what you think of volleyball, there will be
fewer negative answers then I received in my research. I myself enjoy the game of volleyball and
hope more people will in the future. Like a game of volleyball, our lives go up and down, back and
forth, but as Americans we are mostly always enjoying life. I hope many people can or will be able
to relate to that.



Work Cited Page


Connell, Brendan. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Connell, Mary. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Connell, Thomas. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Gonzalez, Kiefer. Personal Interview. May 19, 2007

Hughes, Timothy. Personal Interview May 19, 2007

Johnson, Henry. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Kavanagh, James. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Keegan, Oliver. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Lynch, Chris. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

Murphy, Patrick. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

O’Malley, James. Personal Interview April 31, 2007

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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