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145th Street

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145th Street

Short Stories
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A salty, wrenchingly honest collection of stories set on one block of 145th Street. We get to know the oldest resident; the cop on the beat; fine Peaches and her girl, Squeezie; Monkeyman; and Benny, a...
A salty, wrenchingly honest collection of stories set on one block of 145th Street. We get to know the oldest resident; the cop on the beat; fine Peaches and her girl, Squeezie; Monkeyman; and Benny, a...
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.1
  • Lexile:
    760
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Reading Level:
    3 - 4


 
Description-
  • A salty, wrenchingly honest collection of stories set on one block of 145th Street. We get to know the oldest resident; the cop on the beat; fine Peaches and her girl, Squeezie; Monkeyman; and Benny, a fighter on the way to a knockout. We meet Angela, who starts having prophetic dreams after her father is killed; Kitty, whose love for Mack pulls him back from the brink; and Big Joe, who wants a bang-up funeral while he's still around to enjoy it. Some of these stories are private, and some are the ones behind the headlines. In each one, characters jump off the page and pull readers right into the mix on 1-4-5.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One The funeral took place on the Fourth of July, one of the hottest days of the year. People were sitting out on their fire escapes or on their front stoops trying to catch a breeze. If there was a breeze in the 'hood it must have stopped somewhere for an iced tea because I didn't see or feel it. Nobody was doing any unnecessary movements unless their name was Peaches Jones, who was setting out to ruin Big Joe's funeral.

    Peaches was what you would call seriously fine. She was fifteen, about five feet three, a medium brown color, and definitely wrong. She was wrong because she was not giving Big Joe his propers, which means his proper respect. A person ought to have respect for other people all of the time, but especially at two times during their life. The first time is when they are born. When a baby is born you shouldn't say discouraging things about it like "Hey, I seen prettier dogs than that baby," or "Maybe he ain't ugly, maybe he's just inside out." Give the baby a chance.

    The other time you need to show some respect is when a person is going on out of this world. You know, like they're dead and whatnot. Let the person go. Whatever will be their reward has got to be figured out on the other side. Even if they slip on out owing you some money, you got to bite the bullet, give up some slack, and let them be on their way. But Peaches didn't see it that way when it came to Big Joe. She had her mind dead set on messing up Big Joe's funeral.

    Let me back up here and tell you: It all started when Big Joe, who owns Big Joe's Bar-B-Que and Burger Restaurant, right here on 145th Street down from the EezOn-In Cafe, decided to cancel his life insurance. He said he had been paying on his life insurance for twenty years. If he canceled his insurance he would get a check from the insurance company for eighteen thousand dollars. Now, that is some serious money. It sounded good when the guys in the barbershop were talking about it. So Big Joe canceled his insurance and sure enough, two weeks later, he was telling everybody that the check came just like he thought it would. That's when he decided to have the funeral.

    "I have always loved a good funeral," Big Joe said. He was sitting outside his restaurant, peeling potatoes to make potato salad. "And when I went to Freddy's funeral-y'all remember Freddy?"

    "Yeah, I remember Freddy and his funeral," Willie Murphy said. "He looked real good."

    "That's my point," Big Joe said. "He was looking better than I have ever seen him. He was dean, had his hair combed, and wore that dark suit with a carnation in his lapel."

    "He was sharp!" Willie went on. "And when Angela, that little Puerto Rican girl, sang 'Precious Lord,' everybody was crying."

    "Ain't nobody was going to cry over Freddy when he was alive," Big Joe said. "Funerals bring out the best in people. Am I lying or flying?"

    "You definitely flying," I said.

    "I hate to talk about the dead " Willie added, "but when Freddy was a walkie-talkie all he wanted to do was to hang out on the corner and ask everybody he seen if they had any spare change so he could take it down to the Eez-On-In and get him a beer."

    "Un-huh, but he still had him a nice funeral," Big Joe said. "I'm going to have me a nice funeral while I'm still alive so I can appreciate it."

    Now, we didn't exactly know what Big Joe meant by that but when he started explaining, it made sense. He was going to take part of that eighteen thousand dollars and throw himself a funeral the way some people throw a party.

    "Nothing too fancy," he said. "Just something nice."

    Now, this is what he did. He went over to the Unity Funeral Home on Adam...
About the Author-
  • Born in Marinsburg, West Virginia in 1937, Walter Dean Myers is one of the premier authors of books for children. His mother died very early in his life--an event that propelled him into experiences that later influenced him to write. It was difficult for Myers' father to raise eight children alone, and eventually, a nearby couple, Herbert and Florence Dean, took in three-year old Walter and moved to Harlem, New York. "Harlem became my home and the place where my first impressions of the world were set," says Myers.

    As a child, Myers went to school in his neighborhood and attended bible school almost every day of the week. Myers had a speech impediment which made communicating difficult for him, and often found himself in fights, defending himself against kids who taunted him. After a while, one of this teachers suggested to his class that they could write something to read aloud. Young Myers began writing poetry to give voice to his thoughts and feelings, and at age sixteen, won a prize in an essay contest and a set of encyclopedias for a long narrative poem. Later, his father bought him a used typewriter, which he used to churn out a seemingly endless stream of stories.

    Along with the many things he was discovering about himself, Myers was also learning how to survive. One day he had the courage to break up a fight between three gang members and a kid who had just moved into the neighborhood. He became a marked man--and felt his life was in danger.

    For example, once, he was sitting in the tree in Morningside Park, across from the building he lived in, reading O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, when some gang members spotted him and surrounded the tree. Myers jumped to the ground, flashed a stiletto in order to fend them off, and made a mad dash for his building. He escaped, but he never forgot the incident. Later he enlisted in the army, got married, had a child, went through a turbulent creative struggle, got divorced, got married again--and during all of this, kept writing, whether his work pleased him or not.

    But Walter Dean Myers' life is not the story of a tormented, embittered artist. Rather it is the story of a gifted, complex person committed to sharing that gift with young readers. Myers' stories and novels paint a powerful picture of the pressures of growing up on big city streets. Yet, he emphasizes close relationships, trust, and personal growth.

    It seems that one of Myers' greatest struggles was to understand what type of writer he wanted to be. As the years passed and his books became more and more popular, Walter Dean Myers came to believe that his work filled a void for African American youths who yearned for positive reading experiences and role models. He frequently writes about children who share similar economic and ethnic situations with his own childhood. "But my situation as a parent did not mirror that of my childhood," he says. "While my parents were quite poor, my children are thoroughly entrenched in the middle class experience. To them African prints go well with designer jeans, pizzas go down easier to a reggae beat, and shopping malls are an unmistakable part of their culture."

    It is clear that Myers' understanding of both the world he was raised in and the world of his children allows him to bring an authority to his work that resonates with his young readers. It is one of many attributes that has made him one of the most important children's and young adult authors writing today. Among his many honors are two Newbery Honor books for Scorpions and Somewhere in the Darkness. He is also a two-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award for Now Is Your Time! and Fallen...

Reviews-
  • The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

    "Myers has a great natural style . . . and is completely at home in a Harlem depicted without adulation but with great affection."

  • Publishers Weekly, Starred "Readers will find that they could settle in for hours and take it all in."
  • Booklist, Boxed "Fast, wry, and honest . . . the search for personal identity is at the heart of this lyrical collection, and so is the sense of the place."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Random House Children's Books
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Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.
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145th Street
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Short Stories
Walter Dean Myers
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Walter Dean Myers
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