...which creates and sustains our communities. We know who we are and can share dreams for a common future when our roots in the past are strong."
- Jill Ker Conway, author, historian, and Boston Museum board member.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

KIDS TO COP: Here's Your BPD History....

A sunny day...good to be out exploring the 'hood! Mary Lyn's class is beginning work with Polly Carpenter of Learning By Design, the educational arm of the Boston Society of Architects. She'll lead kids in designing a memorial to honor the thousands of immigrants who came through East Boston's soon-to-be-demolished Immigration Intake Building.

Last week students went to see the 9/11 memorial at Logan Airport. Next week they'll visit the downtown Holocaust and Irish Famine memorials. Today we're off to see the much-more-modest Eastie memorial honoring Ezekial Hodson, the first Boston police officer killed in the line of duty back in 1857.

On Border Street we pass one of Boston's finest, guarding a construction site.

"Excuse me officer!" I wave him over. He's happy to come meet the kids.

"We have a history question for you! Do you by any chance happen to know anything about the first Boston police officer killed in the line of duty?"

He grins and grabs one of the students.

"I don't know but this guy right here is going to tell me!"

S. proudly announces the name of the officer, and then informs the cop of our plans to go see the memorial. We continue on, to a site around the corner, where students pull out papers and crayons and rub the Hodson plaque with as much fervor as tourists use in rubbing the gravestones of poets and dead presidents.

Boston's Finest is just coming out of a convenience store when we round the corner again on the way back to school. He hails us to wait up. The students show him their rubbings. I point out to the officer how these students have enriched his afternoon. He agrees.

"You see?" I tell J. and S. as we walk toward the Umana. "That poor police officer didn't even know the history of his own department's departed. Now he does, and it is all thanks to you."