Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hope And Tears

Hope And Tears

I'm a long time fan of books about Ellis Island. The drama of
people from so many nations taking huge risks, leaving family and
friends maybe never to see them again in the hope of a better life is
so compelling. One of the most lovely and accessible books I've read
recently is Gwenyth Swain's Hope And Tears: Ellis Island Voices.
What I like the best about Hope And Tears is that it is a
seamless blend of the visual and verbal. A wide range of people tell
their stories in free form poetry. A child, obviously with a crush,
tells about a teacher on Ellis Island who worked with temporarily
detained kids. A teen age girl worries that her parents might not
recognize her after two years of separation. A woman ruminates on the
difficulties of cooking for huge numbers of immigrants from many
countries with wildly divergent tastes in food. The many well chosen
vintage photos add so much richness to the narrative.
Swain was inspired by her own grandmother who had shared her
childhood Ellis Island story to write the book. Her word pictures
were crafted carefully with help from experts. Her devotion to a
beloved relative is tangible in this vivid and tender tribute to
those indomnitable souls who had risked all in hope of a better life.
Who knows? Maybe one or more of your ancestors passed through.
I'm pretty sure some of the folks on my father's side of the family did.
On a personal note, the hubby came home today with a beautiful bouquet
of roses: red, white, pink, yellow, peach. They look so lovely in a
china vase and evoke memories. My mother was known for her roses. My
teachers coveted them. Her bete noire was those too ubiquitous
Japanese beetles with a voracious appetite for leaves. She would hand
me tin cans partly full of kerosene and pay a cent for every dead
beetle which played very nicely into my desire for penny candies. Oh,
those shelves and shelves of penny candies in the neighborhood stores!
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow mothers. Tomorrow may we
all have a wonderful Mother's Day!
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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