Archive for the ‘Education’ category

It is I, You, He, She It

January 7, 2013

When I was at Classical High, Miss MacDonald taught me the proper, or standard, English:
It is I
It is you
It is he, she it.
It is we
It is you
It is they.
The first person singular pronoun is “I” when it’s a subject and “me” when it’s an object. So why so much confusion these days?
I hear it at a golf match when I ask who is “away” and first to putt. The common answer I hear is “Me.” But no one would say, “Me am away.”
The proper use of “me ‘dictates the following:
“You will play the match with Mike and me, not Mike and I. In this case, just remove Jim if you might be confused.
It could not be “You can play the match with “I.”
Today I am still correct to say “It is “I” but the tide is turning to the “me’s”. It is me.
Now, how do I answer the phone?
Hi, is Ed there?
Do I respond “It is I?” Or, “It is me.” How about ….”Speaking.” Whew, that solves that problem with little embarrassment.
Dear Miss MacDonald, I apologize. Please don’t give me another bad mark.
Me am still recovering from my dangled participle.

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Mi Casa

November 8, 2010

Diane and I saw this wonderful ceramic sign on the door of a house in northern Italy and thought is so emblematic of the hospitality of the Italians.

“La casa mia e’ aperta al sole, agli amici e agli ospiti.”

“My home is open to the sun, to friends and to all guests.”

Guglielmo Marconi

November 1, 2010

Here I am writing of Marconi again, but I do so because I am fascinated by what he accomplished. Marconi was born in Bologna and at the age of 20, and with no formal scientific education, he was able to identify the missing element that allowed his self-made apparatus to transmit a signal over a distance of several kilometers. And, he did it alone, basically in a room on the third floor of his father’s home, studying and experimenting alone…no professors taught him! His ingenuity carried the day, if you will.

Marconi

Within a year, he became an international celebrity and, spending much time in England, he spoke the English language beautifully. On March 27th in 1899, he transmitted a signal across the English Channel.

in 1901, he continued his experiments on Cape Cod, Wellfleet where , as Thoreau said, the “bare and extended arm of Massachusetts, where a man may stand and put all of America behind him,”

Of course, Marconi succeed there in transmitting a signal across the pond from the Poldhu station on the English coast to Wellfleet. There is another Marconi monument in Wellfleet, dedicated in July of 1963. In 1999 Princess Elettra Marconi visited Wellfleet in recognition of the 125th anniversary of her father’s birth.  I believe that is the year that she came to Rhode Island to dedicate the Marconi monument in Cranston.

Princess Elettra Marconi

Marconi Maritime Center

October 20, 2010

 

The Marconi Maritime Center in Chatham, Cape Cod

Thr Maritime Center is what I wrote of in a previous post. It is in Chatham, MA, on Cape Cod and well worth a visit. Marconi chose Chatham as a site for one of his 10 wireless radio ststions planned to link America with Europe and Japan. It was built in 1914 and converted to maritime operations. It served mariners the world over until 1997. The buildings are now restored very well and unchanged in their original settings.

Guglielmo Marconi

Built by Marconi in 1914, it became the “world’s greatest coastal station ” for ship to shore communications during WWII. Visit the Walter Cronkite video of the center and its glory.

The web site is

www.chathammarconi.org

I Loved My Librarian

September 13, 2010

The Sprague House Branch Library

It was a two story white bungalow indistinguishable from the others in the neighborhood; one that any one of us might have called home. Three cement steps led to the front door. There were windows (even cellar ones), weathered sides, a steep roof, houses close on both sides and an alley that led to the rear. But it was not just any neighborhood house. It was our library. And we did call it a home.

The Sprague House Branch Library on Armington Avenue in Providence was very welcoming, and once a week it was more than just going in to read a book or borrow one. It was the after school story hour with the librarian that I loved almost as much as I loved my former kindergarten teacher.

It was so good to have a library one block away, especially one that made me feel as if I were entering my own home. And being only two blocks from my elementary school, Academy, I stopped on many days after school.  

I opened the door to a narrow, carpeted, dark hall with book laden shelves to the ceiling on each side. The books, so neatly stacked in rows, hugged the walls and extended out, making the path so tight that it was difficult to pass someone coming the other way. My fingers made a rat-ta-tat tat sound as I ran them along the hard covers. The musty smells of wood, oil, leaves and dampness reminded me of my cellar. I walked (ran on story hour day) down the narrow hallway and then bounded up a few more oily and creaky wooden stairs that led to a larger, more open room which had tables and a sign out desk. The tables smelled different, kind of like one of the big old neighborhood trees that I used to climb. The undersides of the tables had hard lumps of gum stuck to them (I swallowed my Double Bubble). Only a little light could filter through the side windows that were blocked by the nearby houses. There was a quiet, slow turning ceiling fan which was not enough to cool in the summer. Sitting at a desk near another door, maybe behind a glass, was the head librarian, but I paid little attention to her. I was looking for the one who told the stories.

On a usual day, I sat at one of the tables and found a book to read or to thumb through. It was difficult to be quiet, maybe the most difficult thing I ever had to do, especially when friends were nearby.

“Quiet please,” the head librarian would say. Her voice was so gentle, so soft, I suppose because she had white hair and peered over clear glasses. She was kinda nice I think, not frightening, so that’s why we were ready to resume our laughing and talking as soon as she went back to her desk. Sometimes the laughing was uncontrollable and, most of the time, I didn’t know why. Everything was funny…a look, a cough, an exaggerated sniffle, a girl with pigtails, a funny looking kid, a gas emission or a burp. There were those lucky guys who could burp repeatedly. What a great skill! Tears of uncontrollable laughter rolled down my cheeks as I buried my head in the table. On occasion the librarian tiptoed over and said, “I think it would be better if you were not in the library today.” She was so patient and kind.

On story day, things were different. There was no way I was going to misbehave. As I entered the main room I looked to the right just to be sure there would be a story hour. Relief! There would be a story hour! In the corner, a quieter place partially hidden by a shelf of books was a bunch of little chairs arranged like a half moon and, in front of them, was a large wooden chair. Our chairs were small but not too small. My feet touched the floor and I could put my elbows on the arm rests. I was the first to sit, and I watched as other kids entered and sat. We waited without saying a word. She entered. When I saw her, I leaned to the edge of my chair, ready to hear another story. She sat. Her hair was so pretty. She smiled and raised her eyebrows

“Good afternoon, children.” What a nice voice.

“Good afternoon, Miss____.”

“Are you ready for story hour?” Her face was soft. She did not wear glasses.

“Yes, Miss ____.”

“What would you like to hear today?” she folded her hands in her lap and crossed her legs.

Frozen, no one answered. We didn’t know what we wanted to hear, but she never failed. Her stories kept us glued to our seats because she took us to places of wonder, surprise and special endings with characters we wanted to be, or avoid.

Was Snow White as beautiful and as fair as the snow? How great it must have been to be a dwarf. And how would Rapunzel get out of that tower? Oh, what a happy ending. And the tiger chasing Sambo turned to butter? Great, because I was so frightened for Sambo. But no one frightened me more than the Giant that was chasing Jack and all for a goose who laid golden eggs! Oh boy was his mother mad when Jack showed her the beans! Three little pigs? A wolf that dressed like a grandmother? A boy whose nose grew when he lied?

When story hour ended, I went home thinking of nothing else; so pleased, so eager for the next week.

As the years went by, I outgrew story hour and the books outgrew the Sprague House Branch which closed, moved up the street and became the Mt. Pleasant Branch Library. Though there was no more story hour for me, not much else changed.  There still were the books; great stories like “Deerslayer,” “Huckleberry Finn,” “Tom Sawyer,”  “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Punt Formation” and “Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees.”  Nor did the rules change. No talking, no laughing, no gum, a fine for late returns. And when we broke the rules, that same gentle head librarian, Mrs. B___, who also moved to the new library, politely told us what she expected.

But there was one important thing so very different. I never saw the story hour librarian again. I heard that the story hour was held in the basement of the new library, but I never checked.

I was thinking of how important a role libraries have played in my life, a role that continues. What a wonderful resource, even today, when I asked the reference librarian for information about the Sprague House Branch Library, and overnight, I had an answer.

“The Beginning of the library branch system was in the early 1900’s. The one in Mt. Pleasant was a gift of the Sprague House Association…a building formerly occupied by that organization when it changed its name to the Federal Hill House Association and moved to Federal Hill. (Well, can you believe it…Federal Hill where my immigrant grandparents settled)? The Sprague House Branch was an outgrowth of the Mount Pleasant Working Girls Association, organized in 1887. A club library was begun in 1903.”

Our neighborhood library, replete with history and stories one block away, was an integral part of my life, introducing me to the love of books, story hour and the librarian. How very grateful I am.

More Marconi in Rhode Island

September 9, 2010

I visited  Chatham on Cape Cod where Diane and I  had an informative and relaxing week after the wedding of our daughter. I never knew that there was a wireless telegraphy station in Chatham. And this station has been  dedicated to the memory of Guglielmo Marconi. I will write more of this in an upcoming blog, but now I return to Marconi in Rhode Island.

My cousin Yolanda told me there was a monument to this Nobel laureate in RI. “Yes,’ I told her. “It is in Roger Williams Park.”

At the Busy Intersection

“Well,” she replied, “there is another in Cranston.”

At the Piazza Marconi

“Really. Where?”

Marconi Monument in Cranston, RI

Today, Diane and I found it at the corner of Atwood and Plainfield Streets in the Knightsville section of Cranston not far from St. Rocco’s Church. It stood unrecognized and lonely in front of the Walgreen’s Drug Store at a busy intersection. Few looked at it, even when Diane and I were taking pictures. This monument was dedicated in 2001 and Marconi’s youngest daughter, Elettra, was in attendence.

I was to learn that there were two monuments to the great Marconi right here in Rhode Island! God bless those who record, monumentally, the past!

Dr. Ed

The Seven Hills; Rome and Providence

August 19, 2010

Rome was built on seven hills. Do you know them? They are:
Aventine
Caelian
Capitoline
Esquiline
Palatine
Quirinal
Viminal
And so too was the the city in which I was born, Providence, RI, built on seven hills. They are:
Prospect or College Hill
Constitution Hill
Tockwotten Hill at Fox Point
Smith Hill
Federal Hill (My Mom and Dad were born here)
Christian Hill at Hoyle Square (junction of Cranston and Westminster Street)
Weybosset Hill at lower end of Weybosset Street. Weybosset Hill was leveled in the early 1880s to construct the Turks Head Building.

My love of things Italian was destined.