Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America

















The Chest

I don’t know my grand uncle, nor have I alive when he was. I’ve never seen a picture of him, but I do have a story about him. With this story I carry a piece of his life and his history, and the history of a few other relatives as well. My mother told me this story as Wit was her father telling it. My mother seems very proud of this story. She was proud that she got the piece of history from my great-uncle, her uncle.

My great-uncle Vmcent Tomasini is from Naples, Italy and grew up there as a boy and almost into his teenage years. He came to America when he was 14 with his father and mother and his 4 brothers, one who is my grandfather, Raymond Tomasini. Vincent shared a chest of clothes and other family valuables with Raymond after coming here to America. The chest eventually arrived with the family at Ellis island , where it was inspected and given passing stamps. After registering at Ellis Island the family moved to Boston and then moved and lived in Roxbury.

When my great-uncle when he was 18 he went into the Army, where he was an engineer and helped building train tracks through Asia so that American supplies could be moved to help the troops, in the war. When he came back from WW2, he became teacher. He taught at different public schools around Boston. He moved to Dorchester with his brother Raymond, and had taken the same chest which they had taken across the Atlantic to Ellis Island.

Vincent died when he was 33 of a heart attack. Vincent never married, and had no children. Raymond eventually kept the chest along his life and brought it with him where ever he had moved to. He got married and kept it for nearly 45 years with his wife and children; one of whom was my mother Virginia. My mother got married and asked if she could have the chest. and she has had it ever since.

In my kitchen is where it sits with the Ellis Island Stamps still on it, a little aged but still in good shape, my mother loves it the same. My mother has tried to keep it in as good as condition as possible. She wants to get it reconditioned to it’s original state but has been hesitant to do so. My mother goes online these days to find out as much history as she can about her ancestors and their history. She has been relentless in finding out as much as she can concerning her family’s history. It seems to give her a sense of purpose. She feels it is necessary to find out where you come from and what you are all about. The chest is a reminder of her family history.












It only takes a short glance out my window to see this huge tree that is surrounded by concrete that stands a short distance from my house rooted in the sidewalk. Its plot is only about 3x7 filled with dirt and weeds. Much of the time the dirt it is covered with whiskey nips,  cigarette  cartons and discarded chip bags left by the variety of people who wait at the bus stop. I think I have seen nearly every kind of person at that bus stop, ranging from infants to 90 year olds. All colors shapes and sizes. Black, white, brown of all cultures and nationalities and from all walks of life  backgrounds. However I am sure that I have been one of the few people to admire the beauty of this enormous tree in front of my house. I have watched it very closely for two weeks and every day I have tried to find something new about it. When I received  this assignment  I thought my teacher was nuts and what was he thinking? Was he  losing his grip to have kids go find a place that is unwatched and goes unnoticed for two weeks and make observations of it. Well by the end of the assignment I found out that I was the one that was nuts. "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" and when something goes overlooked and unnoticed, the beauty is over looked as well. It took me two weeks but I finally found the beauty in what is called a city tree. A certain Sergeant by the name of Joyce Kilmer said "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."  I agree with this poet.

     Most city trees are very skinny and short and fairly new to the world, but not my tree that stands in front of my house. I think I can safely say that my tree must have been one the original sidewalk tree's in Boston. It is nearly 3 feet in diameter and over 30 feet tall. It has to be at least 80 years old. It is a unique tree; there is not another tree like it in the world. How many other trees in the world have a foundation of concrete and are located in a city. I'd bet you not many. It has been through a lot,that sidewalk tree. It is a very kind tree as well. It has given people shade while in the hot summer days and given shelter to those who wait in the rain for the bus. Yet I don't think most people appreciate its beauty and usefulness. The same people who it has given shade and shelter have only tried to hurt the beauty of the tree, by leaving their nips or their empty bags of chips around it. I have even seen people put out their cigarettes on the tree's bark. People may ask where the beauty is in all of this. Should they ask me I could tell them. This magnificent has overcome the ugliness of the garbage around it. With the concrete surrounding it and the ocean in the background, it looks like a small island. And yet it has stood tall and firm against hurricanes and all odds. It should be an inspiration to us all. This tree must have been taken from its family in the forest at a very young age and taken to this foreign place and then planted in a vast amount of concrete. For any one tree it must have been hard to survive. Yet it has survived and overcame these odds and continues to stand tall and firm.
The only time I saw people really stop and look at the tree was when my mother had planted flowers in the plot under the tree in the summer time.Even then most of the attention was set on the flowers. The people took for granted that the flowers will die when winter comes and the tree will still be there standing tall and firm.

Nature withstands all that civilization can throw at it. This tree will far outlive all of us despite the abuse it has taken over the years. Now at least one more person appreciates it.












     "Alright, where are we?" asked my friend Chris as we sat there in the car driving randomly. We somehow ended up somewhere way up north around Lincoln or something after just jumping on the highway and driving on one rainy day. All I could do was squirm in the most pain I have ever felt in a long time.
     "I don’t know but I really don’t care. All I wanna do is go to tha bathroom fast," I somehow squeaked out.
     "hey there's a gas station right there. I bet there's a bathroom in there." My other friend Erin said.
     " Hurry up, I can't hold it much longa!"
     I tried to run but I couldn't. You know how sometimes you have to go to the bathroom so bad that you can barely move? Well that's what it was like. I ran up to the door and saw what I knew was going to be there, a sign saying to get the key from the register. So I waddled through the door.
     "Hey can I use your bathroom?"
     "No key …sorry, " said the Middle Eastern attendant.
     "What !?! The sign says to get the key from you."
     "No key… sorry," he repeated.
     There was no use arguing, so I scurried out the door and back to the car.
     "No key, hurry we have to find somewhere else."
      So we continued down the unfamiliar road seeing nothing but trees and other cars around us. Just as I was about to give up and just pull over in the woods into the pouring rain, we saw a restaurant on the other side of the road.
     "Right there, right there, RIGHT THERE, what are you doin! I screamed as Chris drove right by it.
      "I can't just do a U-turn, there's a cop right behind us, " he explained.
     About a minute later we saw a place where we could turn around and did. I could barely withstand anymore as we pulled into the parking lot. Once again I waddled through the door.
     "Where is your bathroom??"
     "Sorry only customers can use the bathroom," said the lady sitting at the booth.
     "Listen I really have to go, give me a break and just let me use your bathroom."
     "With what attitude there is no way I'll let you use it. Besides its restaurant policy, try to gas station down the street," the overweight little witch retorted.
     I really wanted to hit her but I kept my Christian morals and just turned around and walked out of the restaurant without saying a word. I jumped back in the car and Chris could tell I still hadn’t used the bathroom so he sped off. There was nothing in sight and I couldn’t deal with it any longer so I told him to pull over. I couldn't go farther than the side of the side of the road because a fence separated the road from the woods. Cars flying by me beeped and people yelled but I had no choice. My only fault was my choice of spot, right next to a huge puddle .I think I got splashed at least five times. I returned to the car soaked with dirty water and had to sit there for an hour wet and humiliated as my friends constantly made fun of me.















      Robert Frost is considered to be one of America’s greatest poets, famous for his poems containing extensive metaphor and symbolism.  He overcame many obstacles in his life however, to gain this great honor.  His father died as a child and was forced to live a strict life with his grandparents.  Frost was never able to sustain a school career, from grade school up to college.  After his grandfather’s death he was willed the farm he had lived on during his childhood, which he eventually sold.  His diverse life effected his work greatly.  One such work was “Mending Wall” which was influenced by his experience on the New England farm.  “Mending Wall” is a poem that emphasizes how tradition and ritual can have both positive and negative interpretations.  

     This poem has three main topics that are taken from the building of a wall.  The first is how the tradition of wall building creates segregation and isolation.  This separation signifies a great deal within the poem.  The two men are separated by differences in perception.  The speaker does not understand the ritual of wall building, and questions its worth.  He illustrates this by saying, “It comes to little more:/ There where it is we do not need the wall:/ He is all pine and I am apple orchard.”  Meanwhile, the neighbor simply follows the way of the land, and does not question the saying of old, “Good walls make good neighbors.”  There is also physical isolation with the building of a wall.  We build a wall for privacy and boundary.  However, the tradition of having a wall for segregation is not necessary.

     “Mending Wall” also shows the inevitability of the walls need for repair.  When a wall is built, its damage is unavoidable.  But the repair is automatic, without a moment’s thought.  It becomes a tradition as we continuously repair the wall year after year.  We know the damage is going to be caused, most often by nature’s influence, but occasionally from other interference.  

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:

The speaker expects to find gaps in the wall come spring, and is there to fix it.  

     The last is the social aspect of tradition.  The speaker in “Mending Wall” takes the tradition of building the wall, no matter how irrelevant it may seem to him, and uses it to converse with his neighbor.  The neighbor is a part of the tradition and is the factor that holds it together for the narrator.  “I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;/ And on a day we meet and walk the line/ And set the wall between us once again.”  Farming communities are very distant and non-communicable.  Rarely do they meet and converse.  The two characters meet to mend the wall and in doing so remain social with each other.  It is this tradition that maintains the friendship they have.  

     While the speaker finds the tradition of mending the wall to be useless, he still calls on his neighbor to repair it. The narrator depends on the restoration in a way not even he knows.  “Mending Wall” shows the importance tradition holds on our culture today, even if this tradition is not understood.  We depend on it but at the same time realize its insignificance.


























   The definition of "sport" is open to wide interpretation.  The sport,

the game is a competition of activity needing physical effort and skill that is

played or done according to rules, for enjoyment or as a job.  There are all

kinds of sports like rugby and American football, which are  "contact"

sports. You might hunt for sport or play indoor sports including fencing

or racquetball.  Some kids might think stealing a car or shoplifting is just

for sport.  There are many ways to look at sports.  This paper will look at

Lacrosse, a sport that is here to stay.


     Lacrosse seems to have been played back as early as the 1630's in

Huron County by the English explorers.  Due to the lack of information

back then, it is very difficult to reconstruct the sport.  The oldest surviving

stick came from the first quarter of the 19th century ( National Hall of Fame

and Museum, History of Native American Lacrosse). It seems the Mohawk

Indians began a ritual of "ball playing" with rules and the manner of play.

The sport crossed America as other tribes brought the lacrosse game

throughout the eastern half of North America with various tribes adding

different techniques and equipment to the game.  It seems that the sport

grew in Indian tribes and then spread across the northern part of the

United States and Canada.

     The present day sticks came from Iroquois in New England.  It

was given its name by early French settlers for a game that was played with

a curved stick.  Although the sport was introduced by foreigners,

Americans seem to have picked it up quite nicely.  Non-Indians later took

up the sport and lacrosse grew in popularity in Canada. Then, international

matches were encouraged as its popularity spread.  It is now one of the

most popular sports in America and throughout the world.  Lacrosse

continues to grow today.  

     Around New England, we have the Boston Cannons, a professional

lacrosse team, whose season has been plagued by excruciating one-goal

losses.  Boston lost to Baltimore and will not be going to the MLLS

Championship games. But Mitch Whitely, Cannons head coach said,

"I'm very proud of our guys."   Cannons came back and played a great

second half against a very good (Baltimore) team.  We've lost so many

one-goal games this season.  It hurts, but again I'm proud of the heart of

our team."  (Major League Lacrosse Sportscribe.com)  

     Cannon Bill Baye said "I felt good out there today, but

the most important thing is winning the game and we just came up short.  I

think the whole team played with great heart." Baye and the rest of the

Cannons had dedicated months of training and practice into this one

season. They did their best and it did not work out for them. The Cannons

will not give up now, they'll bring in players and work even harder than they

did this year before.

High School Goalie Joe Carr of Roxbury Latin says "Goalie is

probably the toughest position on the field, since one little mistake turns

into a goal and the pressure is on you when the game is tight." Joe is about

5'5 and about 130 pounds yet he plays the most difficult position on the

field to master. He is usually the smallest on the field most of the time yet

he is probably one of the toughest. He doesn't wear  too much equipment

not more than any other player on the field, but he sacrifices his body on

every play. A lacrosse ball hitting you even at the high school level hurts

and would leave a welt if not a bruise. This shows how tough this sport is

Even through daily practice when the goalie would get lit up  time and time

again, but all for the final answer in the end is to get better and be able

make a big play when the game is tight.

     The critic stated, "It was a tale of two halves for the Cannons,

indicating if they were consistent, they may have won the whole thing."

Although we have a major league lacrosse team in New England, it seems

we have a long way to go to be dominant in the sport. A team at the

professional level can not become great overnight. They'll have to build

and work their way up as time comes along.      

     Lacrosse in America has grown in leaps and bounds.  It is one of the

fastest growing sports for the younger players.  It is a sport in almost every

High School.  Women are playing more and more as well.  It is here to stay

and will remain popular as soccer did.  The more advertising and coverage

it gets, the more popular it will become. Time can only tell how this sport

will change America or how America will change the sport. Baseball did not  

become America's favorite sport overnight, but it is now America's

pastime.  Lacrosse has some growing of it's own to do, because Rome

wasn't built in a day.