Winning Essays and Drawings
Nazarro Center Winning Essays and Drawings
Drawings (click to enlarge)
As a young bird cries
While her mother’s in flight
She turns back around
To make sure she’s alright.
Because there’s nothing more precious
To her, than her child
Who will be all alone
In the world and the wild
And she continues on
Into the wood
To find food for her baby
Like a good mother should
She braves all of the dangers
That block her way
To make sure that her child
Is healthy today
And when she returns
Late into the night
Her baby no longer
Has reason to fright
Because her mother’s returned
With comfort and love
To bring shelter and warmth
To the young baby dove.
I would have to say the person who has influenced my life the most would be Laurie D’Elia. Since November 24, 1992 she has made a big impact on my life. She used to change my diapers, dress me, feed me my bottles and take care of me when I was sick. On January 3, 1993 she baptized me into the Roman Catholic Church and became my godmother. When I was three years old I attendedABCD Head Start in the North End, where she was my teacher. She taught me how to brush my teeth, wash my hands and how to eat healthy foods. Every morning we used to sing the good morning song in three different languages to show it is right to treat all people equally no matter race, language they spoke or the color of their skin. Still, to this day, my aunt is constantly teaching me to love and respect people for who they are.
My mother worked a lot so my aunt played a big role in raising me. My aunt worked at the Nazzaro Community Center, where I attended the program. When she wasn’t working on Friday and Saturday nights she volunteered her time taking us kids to the movies, the theater, the mall and sporting events, just to name a few.
My aunt was always there for me and my friends to talk to regardless of what the situation was. I always felt comfortable talking to her. She encouraged us to get involved in activities and stay off drugs. She encouraged us to go to drug workshops at the community center to learn how to stay drug free. Basically, she taught us how to be positive and respect people.
My aunt is a wonderful leader in the community; she always invites me wherever she goes, making me feel important and welcome. I am who I am because of her. Following in her footsteps, I am now a member of the North End Against Drugs Teen Council, setting up drug talks and planning activities for me and my friends to say off the streets and away from drugs.
Because my aunt has influenced me so much I now look forward to giving back to my community. Not only am I a member of the Teen Council, but I have played the role of Santa Claus for the children at the Christmas party for the last two years. In March I am now looking forward to playing the Easter Bunny. In the past, she has encouraged me to be a character in the Christmas parade.
In closing, I would like to state that my aunt is probably the nicest person I have ever met. I feel she is deserving of the stone in the ground for all the years she has given back to this community and because she is a good role model to all the children she serves and has an influence over. She will always be my aunt but she plays a bigger role in my life than she will ever know.
On September 27, 1927 I came to the United States from Italy at the age of two with my mother and father. We came from Nicastro Calabria in the southern part of Italy to stay with my uncle Pat in the North End until we found an apartment. Our first apartment was two large rooms on Harris street (off of Hanover St.) in a wood shingled three story house. These were cold water flats, heated by wood and coal in large pot-bellied stoves. The lights were gas and we kept our food in ice boxes.
The neighbors were mostly Italian and Irish with Jewish merchants (who spoke Italian). Many of the stores had credit by the week. Where restaurants now line Salem St., there were mom-and-pop stores for clothing, shoes, hardware and groceries, bakeries, a five-and-dime, several small hotels and more than one Chinese laundry. There was an open market for fruits and vegetables-not Haymarket, but right on Salem St.-with carts and vendors.
We did not have lots of money but there was lots of love and kindness for others; helping sick neighbors, helping with small children, sharing food and clothing if needed. We grew up in a very happy atmosphere.
Radios and Victrola were our only entertainment. After dinner, neighbors came over to listen. My mother would place a large quilt on the kitchen floor and all the children would lie down and listen to music or the dramas on Lux Theater or a mystery called “The Shadow.” My mother would serve hot cocoa and biscuits.
During the summer, my mother would take us to the North End beach (where the pool is now)from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Originally, the Coast Guard wanted the area for a marina, but the residents of the North End marched to City Hall in protest. The smooth sand was trucked in and the water was so clear that at high tide, when the water covered the 30 or 40 steps down to the beach, you could see every step. There was a nice bathhouse on one side with showers and changing rooms. You could even rent bathing suits there (made of cotton in those days). People would sit and sun themselves on the beach or on the piers. The kids would dive off the piers and swim the long distance to the Navy Yard, there mother’s screaming after them. I was too scared to go that far. Everyone packed a lunch and there was one variety store across the street that sold soft serve ice cream. Now, near the pool, there is a concession that serves hot dogs, candy and ice cream.
After school we had many programs including dramatics, sewing, knitting and painting. We kids had three places to go; the North Bennet St. Industrial School, the Catherine Moore house on Tileston St. and the North End Union on Parmenter St.
The North Bennet St. School had a big room where kids could drop in after school to play games and socialize. We were disappointed that the city didn’t help the neighborhood keep this as a community center. It has now been taken over by the North Bennet St. School.
The Catherine Moore House was run by the nuns of St. Joseph. There was an enclosed roof-top playground with swings, see-saws, arts+crafts, etc. On the street level there was a gym with a basketball court. That building has been taken over by Sacred Heart church and houses families from overseas who have children in the local hospitals and need a place to stay.
The North End Union was originally a settlement house, Built to help the people. There, we had plays, cooking classes and fundraisers. One such fundraiser was a weekly $10 meal for which different restaurants would donate food. The building was sold to a developer who wanted to turn it into condos, but it now stands empty as they negotiate zoning laws (the Christopher Columbus School was also sold for condos and their gym on Prince St., which was bought by the archdiocese and became the St. Leonard’s Community Center, was then sold for six million dollars and is now condos too, as is the old Seaman’s House).
One other place we went after school is the library. The North End used to have a beautiful library on North Bennet St. (not the small one we have today) with marble statues and a circular staircase as grand as the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. We’d go there every day to do our homework at the big round tables in silence. The only communication was through passing notes. I guess the upkeep cost too much and it was closed a long time ago.
In the evening the grown-ups would sit on the front steps and watch the children play while they mended, knitted or socialized. Since there weren’t as many cars then, we could play in the street. Our signal to go home was the street lamp coming on, unless our parents were still out. We played jump rope, hide-and-seek, hopscotch, jacks, marbles and a game called “relievio” that was kike red rover. I didn’t play that too much because the boys were too rough. Also in the evening, the schools and churches showed movies for five cents.
The only building now still functioning as a community center is the Nazzaro Center on North Bennet St. This building was the neighborhood public bath house (most of the apartments did not have showers or tubs in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s) and is now used for after school programs and senior meetings. The director there is very good with children and the North End Against Drugs group has a variety of activities, programs and trips for kids. I am the president of the North End Younger Seniors, one of the senior clubs that meets there to play bingo, have coffee and socialize. Every year the two age groups come together when the seniors buy tickets for the North End Against Drugs banquet and fundraiser. At the banquet, trophies and awards are given out for sports, community service, etc. So even without all the community centers we used to have, the North End still holds true to its community values.
I feel very lucky to have grown up in this very special part of Boston.