Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

My Hidden Talent

In Stories, secrets & dreams on August 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm

My hidden talent began on my travels to a city in northern Spain off the coast of the Bay of Biscay called San Sebastian. Its original Basque name was Denostia. It is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Spain if not Europe. They say if Brigitte Bardot could create a city, it would be San Sebastian, with it’s amazing beaches and mountains.

Enthralled by the Spanish aroma of the city with its cooking, bull fights, and of course, the Spanish Masters such as El Greco, Velasquez, and Picasso, I took my pencil and pad by the beach and began to draw. I wanted to capture the beautiful people ans the church on the mountain. While sketching the people, I had a sense that these beautiful people tanning themselves in the Spanish sun would be no more, which made me a little sad. So I had to draw them before they’d be gone.

Passers-by watched me while I sketched and said, “You are another Picasso! You draw very well/” I thanked them and admitted that I’d never taken a lesson. My aunt saw my work and said I had talent and should go to Paris. To Paris! Just recently, an art teacher began to give lessons at the temple where I am a client. There, a woman named Laura recommended the class. Laura loved my sketches of Spain and showed them to the art teacher. The art teacher asked me to do a still life. I said, I live in a black-and-white world. She said she would teach me color, which she did.

Jeff Rubin

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Best Mistake

In Guest stories, Stories, secrets & dreams on August 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I was nine years old and home for the weekend from boarding school. My mother sent me off to enjoy the county fair in rural North Carolina. A five-minute walk from home brought us to the field where we saw a variety of games, rides and concession stands. Pizza was a big 25c a slice, and pony rides cost the same.

I was fascinated by the sign that read “Fortune Teller – have your palm read 25c.” We all felt the future was important. I was especially worried about boyfriends, since I was short and fat. Smitty looked average. Linda was a tall and graceful girl who guys just buzzed around. We giggled at the sign and whispered for a few minutes. There were no customers, and I boldly said, “I’m going in.” I opened the door and saw a lady dressed as a gypsy. “Come in and sit down,” she said. “Cross my palm with silver.” A quarter did the trick.

I sat down for what seemed like forever. The only thing I remember as she looked over my palm was that she told me I would: have a long life, travel worldwide, and marry a man from a foreign land. After a two-minute reading, I was rushed out the door. The fortune teller now had a line of clients waiting. Smitty giggled when I came out, and Linda was suitably impressed. I wanted to go in again, but it was time to go home. I was happy, and I had a lot to think about. I would marry someday. The gypsy told me so.

I moved to New York and became a reservation agent for a foreign airline and traveled worldwide. I married a man from England who I met in a pub on Third Avenue. Years later, he returned to London with my heart and our bank account. But at least I can always say that I was married.

Carol West

Annie’s Story

In Guest stories, Keeping hope alive on August 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm

“And yes, you do get a bit obsessed with food when you don’t know when and where it will come from, and you are dreadfully dependent on others for it. That does something to your head and your heart.”

Debbie and I went to the St. Francis breadline as usual that day. The line stretched far down the street in both directions. A friar handed us two bologna sandwiches on soft white bread in a wax paper sleeve. After, we headed east and up to 51st to St. Bart’s for their breakfast. The staff in matching checkered aprons bustled from table to table plopping a sandwich onto the paper place mat in front of each of us. It might sound as if we were preoccupied with food but you must understand that those morning sites were all there was. There were no places to get lunch, or dinner.

In 1982, after a sleepless night in Penn Station where we were continuously rousted out by the police, these sandwiches that we carried, squashed and bleeding into damp napkins, was all the food we would get for the day. We had to make it last. And yes, you do get a bit obsessed with food when you don’t know when and where it will come from and you are dreadfully dependent on others for it. That does something to your head
and your heart. That morning we continued down Ninth Avenue after checking our mail at the General Delivery window of the Main Post Office. And then, at 28th, a few folks stood on the side walk smiling and greeting folks. We must have looked hungry! Or lost! Because they cheerfully invited us in…to lunch!

They enthusiastically shared with us that this was a new soup kitchen and this its very first day to be open. The stainless steel fixtures glistened. Volunteers stood at the ready. The festivity of the soup kitchen opening was felt by all of us. And we were relieved of the day’s worry of how and where we would next eat. Though the turnout was low that day, folks would leave and spread the word and the numbers soon swelled. The meals were bountiful and satisfying and were pretty tasty. And when Holy Apostles started serving five times  a week instead of the three it started with, we could accumulate our stash of leftovers for dinner or to share.  Most all of us on the streets shared. Portions of our lunch meals were brought to some of the older women
in Penn Station who couldn’t make it to the soup kitchen for many different reasons. A regular and  casual network of folks on the street secured what they could for other folks.

Not only were there few soup kitchens in those days but there was only one city shelter for women – on Lafayette Street – which we were scared to go to. We slept – as people still do – hidden in the shadowed margins of the night. Sometimes I collected blankets from a church outside the city and brought them to folks who needed them. Hot food and blankets during a winter’s night can keep one warm enough to stay alive. But essential as they are, they don’t nurture the soul and some of us did that through art. We would sit in the public atrium on 52nd and Park and draw and write. Marshylle squashed marigolds in water to make his own watercolors. Preston would do portraits of us between his card games. Choctow Pete had won the  right to vote for people on the streets (much to the consternation of Mayor Koch). His voting address became St. Vartan’s Park bench #2.

One day, Charlie Heck, told me he was going to a writers’ group at Holy Apostles. I was tempted to go but somehow I couldn’t find it in myself to nurture my own creativity. It was years later before I came to Holy Apostles Writers’ Workshop and once I did, I came to look forward to it hungrily from year to year. I discovered how urgently I both needed and loved to write. It was amazing and exciting that there was a kind of kindred vision for the creative spirit of the streets at Holy Apostles, which recognized the importance of that nourishment as they did bread. I spent one season in their drumming circle (god help anyone in earshot of my drumming) culminating in a wild Easter celebration at a church on the Upper East Side. I spent one season, too, in the art group. But really it’s the writers’ group that I’ve always been committed to.

So, even all these years later, when making ends meet is a tricky feat …I sometimes go to Holy Apostles. I think how my cohorts from those early years would have found such a home here: ample, tasty food served in the very sanctuary. And then in addition art and writing! But, Choctaw Pete is dead. And Marshylle of the golden marigolds is dead. And so is Monroe. It seemed the older women in Penn Station vanished.  Disappeared. The streets have a way of making life even more tenuous. Our community dissolves to be, I guess, replaced. And to continue the struggle, the creating.

Many of the organizations that began in those early years as small clusters of concerned folks, expanded to meet the relentlessly increasing need. And many of them lost something in that growth. Some intimacy with the people. Some face to face presence. I guess it’s the almost inevitable loss that comes with the growth of organizations as they teeter on becoming a sort of bureaucracy. Yet, somehow, it seems that Holy Apostles, for all its own growing, expanding, struggling, ups and downs, failings and short-comings, achievements and celebrations –all the hallmarks of the human condition – somehow it seems it never grew away from its mission, its humanity. It is still there, one person meeting another person across a piece of bread,
a written word, a drum beat.
Annie Q

I Used to Know How to…

In Guest stories, Stories, secrets & dreams on August 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Once upon a time, I could dance. I danced a lot  by going to clubs and parties. Now, I just tap my foot. When I was growing up, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, if there was a party, I was there. My favorite clubs to go to were the Peppermint Lounge, the Cheetah, and the Rink in Brooklyn. There were others, but those were the ones I frequented. I would always watch Dick Clark’s dance show on television on Saturdays to see the latest moves, and then I perfected them on Saturday nights. I was young and I had a lot of energy. There were some stupid dances, like the Hully Gully, the Frug, the Butterfly, the Twist, and the Skate. I knew them all, particularly the latest one, the Electric Slide. We had fun then – it was all about dancing. Now I look back on those days and say, “Can you do any of those dances still? No.” But I remember the fun I had and I can say proudly, that I used to know how to…

George Cousins

I Remember

In Guest stories, Prose on August 10, 2012 at 4:36 am

My first memories are of growing up in northeastern Connecticut. The big house and lots of land to play in. Mom and the cook in the kitchen making meals, while my brother Michael and I were out on our odyssey du jour. Between my great-grandfather, great-aunt and great-uncle, we had over 500 acres that was our domain. This excludes the large state forest that surrounded the property. Ah, the good old days – to remember them is a blessing.

So, after chores, which everybody had to do, Michael set out for his safari with me in tow or tagging along. We often visited the pond during the summer and saw all sorts of exotic animals, from turtles, snapping and box, to crayfish, which you had to be very careful around so as not to be bitten. Snakes of all sorts – puffed adders to garden snakes, some more interesting than others. Even worms, ants, and bees held my fascination – to a young lad, it’s all very bewildering. Lest we forget, plants, flowers, trees and whatnot in the forest were greeted with keen interest.

In those days Connecticut got a fair amount of snow, and all four seasons brought joy and knowledge to my small world. Not a heck of a lot of people, but a world that I was safe and secure in. True, there were perilous possibilities around, anything from poison ivy to snakes, ants, bees and foxes, to name a few dangers. Like most rattlebrained boys I felt undaunted, as my family was tight and we’d take revenge on any creature that attacked us. Five bees would die for one that stung me. Later, i learned to respect bees’ nests, but not before I got a good dose of stingers.

As you can see, I remember some things from the past.

Joseph Negrelli

Happiness

In Poetry, Stories, secrets & dreams on August 3, 2012 at 5:30 am

How does one seek happiness?

Where do you look?

What exactly are you looking for?

Happiness is a very broad word.

The possibilities are endless.

Happiness can be found in food, drink, drugs, sex, religion.

Sunsets, sunrises, flowers, trees

And many other forms of nature.

But these are so abstract.

Happiness means something more solid

And unfortunately, many never find it.

Lois Skaretka