Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America

















The Day My Grandmother Made Headlines

One day I was sitting with my grandmother and talking over a cup of tea. She was telling me stories of her childhood, and family members. I wasn’t really listening to her. Most young people just drift off and nod their heads once in awhile when talking to old people. I was doing it the whole time, until one story caught my attention. It was quite interesting. It was the story of the mine.

My grandmother was eleven years old. The year was 1942. One year after the United States had entered World War Two. The place was Winthrop, Massachusetts. It was a small poor quiet town on the beach.

One day my grandmother and a friend were playing on the beach. Suddenly, they both noticed something big floating in the water. My grandmother and her friend decided to investigate. They walked out on the dock right next to the big, black floating thing. At first they didn’t know what it was. Then my grandmother remembered a picture she had seen before. “It’s a mine,” my grandmother said. Her friend disagreed. My grandmother decided to call the harbor master just the same. Sure enough the harbor master reported it was a mine.

It turned out the mine had drifted inward from sea. My grandmother saved many lives, and a ship or two. A convoy of United States Navy ships were scheduled to leave from Winthrop that night. Sure enough a ship would have hit the mine. My grandmother made the newspaper as a hero.

I think I’m going to listen more attentively to my grandmother from now on. She has had an interesting life, and has many more stories to tell. Who knows, maybe if I listen to her I might actually learn something. Old people have a lot of stories and knowledge to share. They’ve been around, and lived in an interesting time of this country. When old people are speaking, people should listen.










Somewhere in the midst of a busy part of the city lies a place. There lies a pond,
with houses, trees, and ducks all around it. Some fish swim in it, mostly sun fish. It
smells like wet leaves this time of year. The ground is littered with amazing different
colored leaves. It was here that I spent ten days observing, with all five senses, the
changes that took place. Emmerson said “what pretty oracles nature yields us.” I went to
my spot and observed these pretty oracles.

     On my first day of I noticed that trees had all their leaves. A few days later I
noticed that no trees had leaves. All the leaves were scattered about the ground and
blowing around. About six cars, three joggers, and three people walking their dogs went
by. I noticed that no people were taking notice of the beautiful change that occurred.
They all had foul looks on their faces as if they did not want to be outside. You would
think that people driving, walking, or jogging by would appreciate the beauty while they
were out doing what they had to do. Do they like the same color green everywhere or
would they rather have bright different colors to look at? I know I would rather have nice
colors to look at.

     Every time that I went to my place I saw ducks and geese swimming about the
pond. They would quack and fight with each other. The geese would take the ducks’ food
if people were feeding them. On one of my last days of observing there were no ducks or
geese left to be fed. I guess they must have flown south for the winter. Now there is going
to be three or four long months with no animals in the pond. The pond was dead except
for the occasional dog walker or jogger. I wonder if anybody even noticed that the birds
were missing? Nobody seemed to. I didn’t see anybody looking around the pond to find

     No people ever really come to enjoy what this spot has to offer, except for the
occasional duck feeding family. Joggers jog by, but don’t look. Is Chandler’s just a safe
haven for joggers to jog to stay out of the way of cars? People walk there dogs, and let
them go to bathroom, and not pick it up. That’s all they do though. People drive by and
launch there beverage cans into the pond. Teenagers throw their beer cans into the pond
and leave. This is more than just a pond. It is a home for ducks, geese, and other animals.
Not a garbage can. Just because the ducks and geese come and go as they please doesn’t
mean that it is not their home. I don’t think you would like people to throw things on the
ground, or go to the bathroom wherever they please your home. So why do it here?

     Chandlers is free and constantly changing. It looks different, feels different, and
smells different every day.  Things make their homes here. But nobody seems to care.
They still vandalize it.  Would they be more happy if a parking lot were built over it
instead? Few treat this spot with the respect it deserves. They throw trash in it, and leave
their dog’s droppings. These people are spoiled and more concerned with superficial man
made things, rather than being concerned with the beauty right in front of them.










Trinity kids are all the same. they all talk, walk, and dress the same.  They all love
their school even though kids get suspended for not having their shirts tucked in.

     Sean and Pat are best friends and both get equal bad grades. They both attend
Trinity. Sean runs into Pat in the hall and has a typical conversation.
        " WHAAAASSUP, pat kid.
        "Nuthin kid."
        "Dude, kid I can't wait to get wrecked this weekend."
        "Me too dude."
        "I love this school."
        Yuuuuuh kid, even if it does stink like a urinal."
        "Let me get a squaaaaare kid?"
        " Naw dude I only have three left."
     Sean continues to ask four more people for "squares." I have come to find out that
squares are cigarettes.
        "Danny dude let me get a square?"
        "Naw dude I only gut three left."
        "John, let me get a square kid?
        " Naw kid I only gut three I need em."
        "Chuckie gimme a square?"
        " Naw I only gut three."
        "d**n dude," Sean says, " "nobuddy gut squares."
        " aight les go to class now", says pat.
     Pat and Sean go to Religion class where they took a big test the previous day,
which they are just about to get back.

        "Dude I betta not fail this thing."
        " Don't worry Sean you won't."
     The teacher finally calls pat's name then Sean's.
        " d**n dude I failed." says pat.
        "Nice kid! I got a D+. Now my mother is gonna buy me a sixa."
        " Nice kid."
     Later in the day Pat and Sean both get kicked out of school for talking during
class. Both Pat and Sean can't get in any other schools, because the courses they took at
Trinity aren't even good enough to get into Boston Public Schools. They both go to work
at age 17. They both turned out to be garbage men and sent their kids to Trinity to "
follow in their footsteps."











Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in Long Island, New York.  He was raised in Brooklyn and loved New York.  He was the first American poet to break all rules of traditional meter and write in free verse.  Walt has a number of works and is considered one of the best American Poets of all time. Walt died in 1892 at the age of seventy-two. “I Hear America Singing” is representative of Whitman’s best work.  This poem shows the reader that Americans are hard workers and enjoy what they do.  

     One way Whitman shows this is that all the jobs that he mentions are difficult, manual labor jobs.  In the third line of “ I hear America Singing” it says “ The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam.” The carpenter is the ideal image of an American worker.  The work of a carpenter is long hard strenuous work. He works long hours and gets dirty. Although the art of carpentry is hard it takes a smart person to do the job.

            A second way that Whitman shows that Americans are hard workers and like what they do is telling us that he hears them singing while at work. The first two lines of the poem say, “ I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong.”  Through these lines Whitman illustrates that Americans enjoy they are jobs even though they are working hard. If a person is singing then they are happy at what they are doing.

     Another way that Whitman shows us that Americans are hard working and happy is through the writing technique of free verse. The fourth line of the poem says  “ The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work.” As you can see nothing rhymes in this line and it really doesn’t follow any rules.  This allows Whitman to list as many jobs as he wants and it lets him write about how they are happy in any way that he wants.  It makes it so he is not blocked from writing something down.

     In the poem “I hear America Singing” Whitman employs three methods to show the reader that Americans are hard workers and enjoy what they do. These three methods are mentioning only hard, traditional, manual labor, American, jobs, telling us that they sing while working, and using the technique of free verse.  With these three methods Whitman writes one of his best works ever.  Without these three methods the poem would not have the same affect on the reader.  The reader would not clearly be able to see what Whitman is trying to say.















  Swimming is a timeless sport. It has been around since the beginning of man. Swimming has been an Olympic sport since the Olympics started (Official). When I think of sport I think of a physical activity that gives you a workout as well as a challenge. I also look for a great deal of competitiveness. The sport of swimming certainly fits this definition. Swimming can be enjoyed by everybody.
    Swimming is truly an amazing sport, just ask Esther Williams. Williams dedicated her life to the sport of swimming. Williams was supposed to compete in the 1940 Olympic games, but they were canceled due to World War Two (Perry 3).  Despite the war Williams never stopped swimming. Williams says to people, “why would I ever stop doing something that feels so good? When I get in the pool, I know it’s the best I’m going to feel all day” (qtd. in Perry 2). Williams now owns a swimming pool business. Anybody who has dedicated as much of her life to swimming as Esther Williams can truly be called a professional. Williams shows how at the heart of the professional must be love for the sport. Not success, not ambition, but love. Also primary in the professional, despite all the honors they eventually earn is the simple desire to enjoy themselves. This is something I fear, that professional athletes these days lack.
    Swimming is one of the most intense workouts out there. It works just about every muscle in the body (Jacobs 1). “There really isn’t anything better for the body than swimming,” says Matt Jacobs, an expert on the sport (qtd. in Jacobs 1) Matt also writes for the Washington Post. Many fitness experts suggest swimming on a regular basis (Jacobs 1). Swimming is an outstanding workout. You can do it at any time of the day, rain or shine. Not only is it good for the body, but it makes your mind feel better. It makes you feel like you have accomplished something. Swimming cleanses the soul as well as sharpening the body.
    Swimming can also be used as a great amateur activity. I asked my aunt Caryn what she thought about the sport of swimming. She owns a swimming pool and swims on a regular basis in the summer. She said “ Swimming is a great activity. It is one of my favorites. It can be used for so many things. Whether it is cooling off on a hot day, getting a workout, or just enjoying yourself swimming is always great” (qtd. in Personal Interview). Many people feel the same way as my aunt. Swimming is just a great activity. It great on hot days. If your just in the mood to relax hop in the water and float around for awhile. Swimming has multiple uses to it.
    Swimming is a wonderful American sport. We Americans love intense competition, workouts, and challenges. The sport of swimming has all of these things. It can be enjoyed by all. As Esther Williams says “Swimming is for everyone” (qtd. in Perry 2). Another quality of Swimming that reminds me of what it means to be American is its accessibility. Wherever there is a body of water you can swim. Unlike golf or hockey, sports which require specific locations and criteria before you can even play. Swimming requires only water. In this sense, it is available to all, and that is a very American idea. Another characteristic that makes this sport American is that it has multiple uses. We Americans love to kill two birds with one stone. With swimming you get a workout, refreshed, relaxation, and a good time.