Writing Portfolio: Five Essays on America

















When I asked my father the oldest story of our family history, he went up to the attic and handed me this book. He told me this was my Great Grandfathers Union Book. Back in the older days laborers had to have this book that contained there contract, work records and wages earned.

This book I have is almost 100 years old, and my father gave it to me and told me to take care of it. My Great Grandfather Bernard J. Manning born in Ireland in 1872. He came to America as an Irish Immigrant in 1904. He worked for the United Brewery Workmen of America, an International union. It was located in Boston, and he started working in 1906, and left the Union in 1908. Before my Great Grandfather started working in 1906, he had to sign the “Declaration of Principles”, which stated that they where a lower class. It also stated that they may only earn “as much as enables them to eke out a miserable existence”.

When the Irish came to America there where kind of treated like slaves. The people’s laborer Union knew this so they could easily take advantage of them. They knew that they could get away with paying them little wages, and making them work in bad conditions, because they where desperate for work. After completing his contract with the Union in 1909, my Great Grandfather left the Union.









   There are not many places in Boston where you feel as if you are in a whole other world.  I am talking about a peaceful place where you cannot here the noises of the city, like the beeping of horns, or the sounds of engines but just the sound of nature around you.  I am talking about a part of the Charles River near Route 1 where you can fish.  I went fishing there over the summer, even though you rarely catch fish there; it is a great spot to think.  To best describe this, this reminds me off the story Nature by Ralf Waldo Emerson.  Emerson says “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all, the currents of the Universal being circulated through me”.
     Many people think of the Charles River as a polluted place, but it has not always been like that.  Back in the late 50’s my dad used to even swim in it.  The reason why it is so dirty is because some people dump in it, while when it rains out, all the filth from the streets like oil, streams into it.  Back in the day, you could eat the big Bass that you caught, but times have changed.      
     When I observed this spot for 12 days, I saw how after it would rain, the River would be slightly higher then before.  The trees have very few leaves on them, you can tell that winter is near.    The Charles in a big part of Boston, it runs just about everywhere.
     My spot is an American place, where you can feel, see, and taste Mother Nature around you. It’s like a place where I have never been before.  Not many people know about it, but it is there, for the people who are looking.  No one can take this place away, they can trash it, pollute it, ignore it, but the Charles is still there.












Mike Roberts, 23 years old, was hanging in a Texas state prison on Tuesday.  Mike, born and raised in a small town in Texas, led a life of crime.  Mike had spent most of his life thinking he could get away with anything because he came from a family that knew people in high places.  Mikes best friend Jimmy stated in an interview "Mike was the type of kid that gets what he wants, even if it hurts other people".  Jimmy also said "Mike was also one of the luckiest kid I knew".  On Tuesday Mikes luck finally ran out.      
It all started when Mike was young. Growing up in this small town of Texas, Mike was a loner who liked to be by himself.  Starting from the age of 12, Mike used to steal from neighbor hood stores.  This led to breaking into houses, and by the age of 17, mike was breaking into cars, and had already been arrested five times.  Because his parents knew people in high places, Mikes records where cleaned.  Some may say that it is Mikes parents fault for his bad behavior, others say if the society got more involved, maybe Mike would not have ended up in jail.
One Sunday afternoon Mike went to the rich section of his town and waited for his next victim.  He saw a bran new Jaguar that he was going to use for his getaway car.  Mike noticed that there was an alarm on the Jaguar so he planned to wait for the owner to come out and get into the car.  About 4:00 P.M. a young blond female carrying a baby started to walk towards the Jaguar.  
Witnesses say that mike slowly made his way over to the women casually asking her for directions.  Mike shoved the women out of the way and grabbed the keys.  The women screamed for help, then Mike pushed the women to the ground.  Fortunately the baby was not harmed.  Mike hopped into the car pealed away.  Right before Mike got to the bank four police cars surrounded and arrested him without a fight.
Mike had to appear in front of a judge the following day.  Mike just laughed about the situation, thinking that he would getaway clean like the times before.  But this time was different and he was sentenced to Texas State Prison for a five-year sentence.  Mike was put into a cell with a man named Tony.  Tony was 6"8" weighing 360 pounds and serving a life sentence for murder.  Mike knew that he had to stay on the good side of this large man.
When Tony asked Mike what he was in for, he said for stealing some stupid blond woman's car.  When he asked if she was holding a baby, Mike said, "yeah that bimbo was holding a baby but I still pushed to the ground".  It turns out that she was Tony's wife.  The following day Mike was found hanging his cell.  Witness's say that Tony made Mike his women for the next 3 weeks and his last moments was not fun.  This goes to show that Mike was not so lucky after all.














Whitman, who was born in New York, got involved in journalism and was editor of a newspaper in his early years. Whitman used free verse and did not use a rhyme scheme in his poems. His unique writing style makes him a well-known writer.   In Song of Myself Whitman describes the relationship between man and mother nature.  Whitman also likes to use patriotic themes in his writings, and from that you can tell he is proud to be an American.  The reason I choose this poem is because I find it to be easy and enjoyable reading.

   In his poems Whitman uses great analogies to portray mother nature.  From sentence 17,”This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is, this is the common air that bathes the globe”; this is an example of nature.  When Whitman says grass grows near water, this is because it needs it to survive.  Much like us, we also need water to survive.  When Whitman says “the common air that bathes the globe,” he means that air continuously flows around the world supplying one of the essential forms of life that enables us to survive.  This quote is an excellent example of when Whitman uses Earth’s resources in his poems.

   Whitman also uses animals to represent emotions in his poems.  From sentence 52, “The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering”, shows how the animals use there natural instinct’s.  The spotted hawk is a rare bird, and it swoops down to scare off any danger.  Whitman is emphasizing on how only the strong survive.  Whitman says the bird complains of his gab and loitering, which is only symbolic of the bird’s nature, because of course birds don’t have emotions.

   Whitman shows a great deal of patriotism, and in his poems he writes about giving back to the earth.  In line 52,      “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, if you want me again look for me under your boot soles”, this is showing how when we die, we become part of the earth.  This is one of my favorite selections from this poem, because it is straightforward.  When you die, you are buried, thus you “become part of the Earth.  Whitman says, “look under your boot soles”, meaning look down at the Earth and you will find what you are looking for.  Whitman emphasizes on nature and the world around us, and explains how we are all connected in someway.

   Song of Myself shows how similar and how different humans and nature is.  Whitman loves the Earth, he loves nature, and he loves being free.  Through his writings he expresses his strong emotions and love for our country.















 What is a sport?  A sport is an activity that can be played both on a team or solo; it pushes you to the limits mentally, physically, and even sometimes spirituality.   A sport pushes your physical abilities to the max, you compete to win.  My sport is boxing and in the following paragraphs I will tell you everything that you need to know about it.
     What began as a type of combat between Greek and Roman empires in 4000 BC has evolved into one of the most popular sports in history, practiced in nearly every country throughout the world (Klitschko J).  In earlier times boxing was a brutal sport in which two men fought with their fists intel one person was left standing. Although the first boxers primarily fought for fame, the winner was granted gold, livestock or other trophies.  Boxing was a also a popular Roman gladiator event in which both opponents would box to the death usually naked and only wearing metal spikes around there hands and wrists.
     Boxing is played inside a ring that measures between 16-24 square feet (AAU Official Handbook).  A mouth guard is required for all boxers; amateurs are required to wear protective helmets. Amateur fights consist of 3 rounds, professional fights from 4 to 15 rounds.. In most countries, professional boxing is the more popular version, but the rules vary because there is no true governing body. Even in the United States, boxing regulations vary from state to state.  Compared to earlier times where boxers wore nothing but spike covered leather gloves, this seems like a baby sport.
     When I interviewed my sister’s friend Mike who participates in amateur boxing he said “boxing is a way of life, you either are dedicated to the lifestyle or your not”.  Mike talked a lot about how you have to train hard everyday, eat a steady diet, and devote all your time to boxing. Mike said “boxing is not a sport like baseball where you only have to play a couple of months, boxing is an everyday thing.”  When I asked Mike why he loves boxing so much he said “what other sport are you allowed to beat the crap out of someone in a ring for 10 minutes”.  Mike mentioned some of the old champions like Ali and Louis, he told me they jumped rope and trained hours a day to become the best.  Mike first started boxing at the age of thirteen in New York where he grew up as a kid.  At the age of seventeen he moved to Boston where he joined a local gym.  Mike got scouted at the age of nineteen and won his first bout in the amateur league.
     When people think of boxing they think of such heroes as Ali or Louis, but then on the other hand there is Mike Tyson.  Over the years Tyson has become one of the most controversial topics in boxing history.  From an interview by ESPN’s journalist Max Kellerman, he asked Tyson “If you win this puts you in the Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson level. How do you control the fight?” Tyson responded by saying "It's interesting that you put me in the league with those illustrious fighters, but I've proved since my career I've surpassed them as far my popularity. I'm the biggest fighter in the history of the sport. If you don't believe it, check the cash register (ESPN)."  Just from that statement in some sick way it makes me want to watch him fight, you never know what he is going to do next.  Tyson also said “all my life I have been good at one thing, beating the sh*t  out of people, the good thing is I get paid to do it”.  Tyson also stated “I will throw in my gloves when I get hit and don’t get up”(ESPN).
     Richard Hoffer a journalist from Sports Illustrated says “ I could have one of the funniest jobs in the world, I get to interview legendary boxers like Ali and Louis, or crazy S.O.B.’s like Mike Tyson”.  Hoffer said, “ever since I was 12 years old, I loved watching boxing matches with my dad, but now I get to interview boxers up-close”.  Hoffer aslo said “ boxing is a way of life for people, usually the pros are born with the skills of a good boxer”.
     Today, boxing is not as nearly as brutal as it used to be. Amateur boxing now uses gloves without spikes and contests are determined by the use of a computer, rather than by death.   For all its changes, boxing is relatively unchanged in one way: it is still hand-to-hand, one-on-one combat, putting a boxer against someone of relative strength and size and both are left to battle for the prize and glory of a nation. For a sport that has been around for thousands of years, these changes are small; the idea of hitting someone until they fall down still captures everyone’s attention.
     Boxing almost disappeared as a sport until the late 1600’s, when it reappeared in England.  It’s not fair to say boxing is an American sport, boxing is participated in all around the world.  Modern boxing enjoyed great popularity in the 1920’ through the 1940’s.  But interest began to incline because of the many economic issues of the times.  Today only the top professional championship bouts draw large crowds.  Boxing is a brutal sport, and it always has been.  Famous champions such as Ali or Louis have captured the hearts of Americans through the last decade.  Why many American love to watch someone get beat up in the ring, I don’t know, but I’m going to continue to watch it.  In a way boxing is a type of stress relief, we can watch to people fighting each other and pretend we are the ones fighting.