chalk – remembering the victims of the triangle factory fire

It was last year when I first saw the chalk memorials on the sidewalks. The colorful and almost cheerful lettering screamed from the ground with its details. The age of the victim, young and on the cusp of adulthood. The memorials were written on the sidewalk in front of their former homes. As you stand there and read, you are thinking “she walked out of this very apartment building on her last morning at the start of spring with her whole life ahead of her”.

Because of the concentration of immigrants in our neighborhood during the Industrial Revolution, the childlike memorials are everywhere on our streets. Especially sad are the chalk memorials of sisters, where two or even three of the teenagers and young women of the family perished in the fire at the Triangle Waist Factory on March 25, 1911.

The fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers, mostly young women and girls who toiled in unsafe conditions sewing the Gibson Girl shirtwaists that were fashionable at the time. They were the victims of greed. Doors leading to staircases were locked “to prevent theft”. Escape routes were blocked and the firemen’s ladders could not reach them. Many trapped and panicked workers jumped to their deaths from the windows with their hair and clothes ablaze.

The tragedy horrified the city and galvanized a movement for worker’s rights. Every year, artist Ruth Sergel organizes volunteers draw the chalk memorials. To learn more about the Triangle Waist Company Fire go here. To learn more about the Chalk memorials and to volunteer for 2014 go here.

This was my first year participating and these are the memorials my friend Katy and I drew.

Ida Pearl, 20 years old was born in Russia. She was a union member.

Ida Pearl

Ida Pearl

Fannie Rosen, 21 years old. Born in Russia. Had started working at the Triangle factory two days earlier.

Fannie Rosen

Fannie Rosen

Velye Schochet, 21 years old, was born in Germany. She was a union member.

Velye Schochet

Velye Schochet

Annie Pack, 18 years old, was born in Austria. She was a union member.

Annie Pack

Annie Pack

how to repair a plaster frame

When I set out to do this blog, I wanted it to nudge me to do projects to beautify and organize my family’s living space. You have to lay your hands on your home.

This beautiful old plaster framed mirror has been hanging in my bedroom for a few months now. The gilded frame is faded and dull and like many of these delicate plaster frames, it was chipped in several spots. I’d purchased it at a yard sale upstate for five bucks. I love yard sales and I always think that when I drive around upstate, I should have a bumper sticker that reads, “I brake for small animals, sticks/big leaves and yard sales”.

chip damage

chip damage

I repaired the chips by using Sculpey clay as a mold. This modeling clay bakes in the oven and does not make a mess. When my girls were little, we made all the dinnerware and fake food for their dollhouse from colored Sculpey clay.

The repair was easy. I placed the Sculpey clay over the same pattern in the frame of the little chunk that was missing to create a mold.

find the piece in the pattern that is missing and make a mold

find the piece in the pattern that is missing and make a mold

I baked the molds in the oven on a piece of foil according to the instructions. Then I took soft clay and pushed it into the mold. I carefully took the soft piece out of the mold so that it kept its shape and baked it.

the mold and the piece made from the mold

the mold and the piece made from the mold

The final step is to glue the new piece to the frame with household cement. Now all that is left is to paint the repaired frame.

a dresser of elfa

In one of my early posts, I explained that all of our home design decisions had always been made on the premise of where to stash things. Well, this was one of them, but not one that I’m unhappy with. The problem: we needed a bigger dresser in the bedroom to stash our stuff. The solutions I looked at were expensive. I looked at many dressers. We needed two, and that made it very expensive. I searched on Craigslist and then discarded the notion early on when I realized how a prolonged furniture hunt would elevate stress levels and damage good feelings in the house.

I wanted something to span the entire width of the bedroom wall. I went to a fancy furniture store that has modular pieces that you can put together for your own needs. It was still too much money and I didn’t like the look of the super-modern shiny white plastic finish. This led me to the idea of closet storage. Something with drawers that you could piece together for the size of your space. The Elfa system solved our problem at the right price. At first I thought, well, it looks like we are sleeping in a closet. But the clean and neat look of the Elfa dresser is growing on me and our stuff is tidily tucked away.

our elfa dresser set up

our elfa dresser set up

During the set up our little blind dog Millie was stashed away in an Elfa box to keep her safe.

the sleeping beauty

the sleeping beauty

Spring is coming. I saw the first signs of it outside in our community garden. The purple crocus bursting out from under the dead fall leaves. I think a pot of spring bulbs would look great on the new dresser.

el jardin del paraiso - the first crocus of 2013

el jardin del paraiso – the first crocus of 2013

loisaida street art II

Out and about in the neighborhood, I’ve recently come across this public art to share with you. To see the first street art post go here.

Portal 1 of the 13 Portals project by Nicolina and Brazilian artist Pérola M. Bonfanti on the corner of Loisaida Avenue and East 7th Street

Portal 1

Portal 1

enough said

enough said

East 9th Street

East 9th Street

rsz_child_gun_streetart

East 2nd Street wall

East 2nd Street wall

Lucky Luciano mosaic by Jim Power (The Mosaic Man) on a lampost

Jim Power is a neighborhood treasure

Jim Power is a neighborhood treasure

This mural is on the wall of where Mama’s Food Shop used to be. I love that its still here.

East 3rd Street

East 3rd Street