I am back in the classroom.
After more than 30 years.
My new mission?
As volunteer literacy coach for young readers.
At the Ellis School in Roxbury.
We are learning our Sight Words.
If the students learn all the words in a book, they get to keep it.
This was Jenilee’s first book. It’s hers now.
She loved the birds. So did I.
She is five. In first grade.
As I spent time with these kids last week, I remembered an incident from my childhood.
Show and tell in first grade.
I asked my mother if she could give me something to take to school.
And she gave me her Maltese Cross brooch.
It looked something like this.
I asked her what it was.
She said: “That is the medal that I won in the war.”
So I was very excited to bring it to school.
When my turn came, I took out the brooch and told my class:
“This is the medal my mother won in the war.”
Some of the first-graders laughed.
And the teacher tried to hide her smile.
When I got home, I told Ma what had happened.
She said: “Jimmy, how can you be so stupid?”
I guess she wanted to teach me critical thinking.
Next week I have another chance to show and tell.
I have been asked to serve as a docent at the Boston Athenaeum.
Since I am down there so much, they probably figured:
“We may as well make this guy useful.”
As part of our elaborate training, I have been asked to bring in “an item of personal significance”.
So I chose this.
I love the mermaids on the penknife.
The watch belonged to my grandfather, Vincent Falzarano.
He gave it to my father.
And it has come down to me.
The watch will give me a chance to tell the Athenaeum crowd a little about my family.
Which is, of course, the whole point of this blog business.
My grandfather came to Boston from Italy as a young man, and settled in East Boston.
He took the Penny Ferry across the harbor every morning.
And walked all the way to Brighton to work.
And back again every day.
My father’s first job, at age 13, was shining shoes.
On the same wharf where the Penny Ferry landed.
Somehow, my grandfather was able to become a success.
Enough to buy this watch, at E B Horn, 429 Washington Street.
In Downtown Boston. The store is still there.
One other thing about Vincent Falzarano.
In the North End.
As I first revealed in this blog.
I suspect he would be very proud that his grandson, James Vincent Falzarano, would one day be telling his story.
At the Boston Athenaeum.
It will make me very proud to tell it.