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Posts Tagged ‘Linda Matchan’

My mother liked to buy from people who sold door-to-door. There aren’t many door-to-door salespeople who get a welcome these days. Maybe Brownies with Girl Scout cookies or Cub Scouts with popcorn, but not many others. I haven’t seen an Avon lady in decades.

My mother bought from a “huckster,” a vegetable salesman in an old school bus painted blue. And of course, there was the Fuller Brush Man.

Recently, Linda Matchan at the Boston Globe wrote about a Massachusetts-based Fuller Brush Man who is still making sales after 40 years.

Al Cohen, she says, has been at it second-longest of the three remaining Fuller Brush Men in Massachusetts — “40 years with the Fuller Brush Co., which was launched 110 years ago by Alfred C. Fuller in his sister’s Somerville basement. He’s done it by selling one Angle Broom and Wooly Bully Hand Duster at a time.

“ ‘Toward the end of summer, he appears. And we’re elated,’ said Melissa Zeller, a longtime Cohen customer who lives in the South End and has a summer home in Hull. …

“On a recent morning, he worked Hull’s Allerton Hill neighborhood. He’d brought a replacement mop head for one customer and hand soap for an older woman who’d been buying it for years.

“ ‘How you been?’ he greeted the customer, who was slow to answer the door.

‘ ‘Very sick,’ she said. ‘I had two heart attacks and I lost Tom.’

“The day was hot and it was slow going. … Then things got better. Maureen Keiller and Patrick Miehe bought a broom after Cohen assured them it was ‘laboratory tested to last over a million sweeps.’ Afterward, George and Helen Kelley ordered several items, though it was a challenging sell at first.

“ ‘I don’t think I’ll pay $25 for a broom,’ said Helen, 82. ‘It’ll last,’ said Cohen. ‘How long will I last?’ she said.

“For that matter, how long will Al Cohen keep at it?

“ ‘It keeps me going,’ he said. ‘And if I stopped, it would almost be a letdown for some of my customers. Some of them depend on me.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Al Cohen, 64, estimates that he still has about 1,000 regular customers for his Fuller cleaning products.

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Author-illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka knows the power of a kind word. He found his calling largely because of two words from a children’s book author who visited his elementary school class.

And he got through a difficult childhood nourished on the kindness of strangers, including lunch ladies, an unjustly maligned species he has honored in a superhero series. (“Serving justice! And serving lunch!)

Linda Matchan has a lovely story at the Boston Globe about Krosoczka.  (I want to call your attention to how nicely she describes him, here: “with impossibly spiky hair that looks as though he penciled it in himself.”)

“Until recently,” writes Matchan, “Krosoczka was very guarded about his childhood. That changed last October when he got a call from the organizer of a TEDx program at Hampshire College, modeled after the TED Talks series. …

“Scrambling for a topic, his wife urged him to talk candidly about his childhood. With no time to come up with other options, he delivered a moving talk about his early years and the people who inspired and encouraged him. The talk caught the attention of the TED editorial team, which featured it in January on TED.com.

“He spoke in his talk about his mother — ‘the most talented artist I knew’ — who was addicted to heroin and often incarcerated. ‘When your parent is a drug addict it’s kind of like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football … Every time you open your heart, you end up on your back.’ …

“Third grade was the year something ‘monumental’ happened. Children’s book author Jack Gantos came to his school to talk about what he did for a living. He wandered into the classroom where Krosoczka was drawing, stopped at Krosoczka’s desk and studied his picture.

“ ‘Nice cat,’ Gantos said.

“ ‘Two words,’ said Krosoczka, ‘that made a colossal difference in my life.’ ”

More.

Photo: Bill Greene
Jarrett Krosoczka declared May 3 (his favorite lunch lady’s birthday) “School Lunch Superhero Day.”

Author-illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka knows the power of a kind word. He found his calling largely because of two words from a children’s book author who visited his elementary school class.
And he got through a difficult childhood nourished on the kindness of strangers, including lunch ladies, an unjustly maligned species he has honored in a superhero series. (“Serving justice! And serving lunch!)
Linda Matchan has a lovely story at the Boston Globe about Krosoczka.  (I want to call your attention to how nicely she describes him, here: “with impossibly spiky hair that looks as though he penciled it in himself.”)
“Until recently,” writes Matchan, “Krosoczka was very guarded about his childhood. That changed last October when he got a call from the organizer of a TEDx program at Hampshire College, modeled after the TED Talks series. …
“Scrambling for a topic, his wife urged him to talk candidly about his childhood. With no time to come up with other options, he delivered a moving talk about his early years and the people who inspired and encouraged him. The talk caught the attention of the TED editorial team, which featured it in January on TED.com.
“He spoke in his talk about his mother — ‘the most talented artist I knew’ — who was addicted to heroin and often incarcerated. ‘When your parent is a drug addict it’s kind of like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football … Every time you open your heart, you end up on your back.’ …
“Third grade was the year something ‘monumental’ happened. Children’s book author Jack Gantos came to his school to talk about what he did for a living. He wandered into the classroom where Krosoczka was drawing, stopped at Krosoczka’s desk and studied his picture.
“ ‘Nice cat,’ Gantos said.
“ ‘Two words,’ said Krosoczka, ‘that made a colossal difference in my life.’ ”

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Photograph: South End Knitters

Today I am thinking about the South End Knitters, the stealth street artists who wrap their knitting around parking meters and fire hydrants and telephone poles.

Writes Linda Matchan in the Boston Globe, “The South End Knitters’ weekly meetings at a Washington Street café seem innocuous, but don’t be fooled. Over knitting needles and yarn at the long table they’ve commandeered, they are contemplating something far more mischievous than a sweater. They’re graffiti knitters, and they’re plotting their next target. …

“As with graffiti, no two tags in the yarn-bomber subculture are alike. They range from sleeves on parking meters to tubes on tree limbs to sweaters on statues: A recent high-profile example is the neon pink sweater that the New York street knitter Olek crocheted in December for the 16-foot ‘Charging Bull’ statue on Wall Street.”

What put me in mind of the South End Knitters was an extraordinary post at the WordPress blog Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma, which describes a crochet effort that is drawing a lot of attention to the plight of vanishing corals.

Concerned about the effect of global warming on reefs, Margaret Wertheim and her twin sister got an idea that involved “crocheting corals. They used a crocheting technique invented by mathematicians in 1997 to model hyperbolic shapes called hyperbolic crocheting. … This ended up being a perfect technique for producing coral reproductions. …

“They crocheted a lot of corals,” continues Pickled Hedgehog, ” then they did something to change the world. They shared their corals with art museums. They got a community in Chicago to crochet with them. Then the crafting became a movement and groups all over the world started to crochet corals.”

Read Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma’s illustrated summary here. And if you have the time, this TED talk is super.

Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma

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Isy Mekler, 13, wanted to do a charitable deed in anticipation of his Bar Mitzvah. Because he has always loved reading, he decided that what would be ideal would be to raise money for the early literacy program Reach Out and Read, which gets books to kids who need them.

Isy “wrote to hundreds of artists across the country and asked them to create a work of art that could be auctioned to raise money for books. …

“He was inspired, he said, by a favorite children’s book, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, which has an underlying message about generosity. He e-mailed some 300 artists and illustrators and asked them to paint or illustrate a three-dimensional cardboard tree, which he had manufactured in Colombia.”

About 35 artists responded, throwing “themselves into the project with such enthusiasm that their trees will be exhibited at the Danforth Museum and School of Art’s Children’s Gallery in Framingham, [Massachusetts] beginning in May. The auction, held online, will run concurrently.

“Author-illustrator Grace Lin of Somerville, a Newbery Honor book winner who is enamored of large origami animals, painted a tree with tiny origami birds.

“ ‘Not only was it for a good cause, I thought it would be fun to do,’ said Lin.” (BTW, I wrote about reading her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon here.)

Read more about Isy’s outreach to artists and the artists’ responses here, in the Boston Globe.

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