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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

The Wallflower on the Baseball Diamond

I know it’s early for baseball but daylight saving comes in one week and if we spring ahead the baseball can’t be far behind.

I grew to be a teen in the Goose Hill section of town and spent all my free time walking my dog to the Yates School Little League spot to watch (to my mind at least) these gorgeous guys of summer play ball. Carl Alesio, Billy Connors, Bill Mastrianni, the Falvo Twins and Jimmy Barbieri. I know there were others but these guys were my neighbors and school mates at Oneida Junior High, and I had crushes on all of them. Several went on to real careers, and Billy Connors is still a coach for the N.Y. Yankees.

But I was doomed to be a wallflower, never was a popular girl with the guys. In my later years when I went to Carl’s Auto Collision Shop, he enlightened me, “No one would go near you, your father was that great big 6’2’’ red haired cop. And we were all afraid of him.”

Well I wish pop was still around so I could tell him what a great watch dog he had been. I had super strict parents when it came to the opposite sex, which didn’t keep me from getting pregnant as soon as I left home for college. Parents be warned: too short a leash is just as bad as a no leash at all.

I bring up these memories because of N; one dark and lonely night we were driving at the very end of Broadway and we were working on a school project. She was supposed to write a silly poem, which I, by the way, thought was a great assignment. We went over the ins and outs of silliness and then she told me hearing a silly version of “Take me out to the ballgame” with a girl singing it to an ATM machine and getting an instant cash reward.

Well somehow or other I wound up singing the original in all it’s glory. N was transfixed. “Wow,” she said “could you sing it again?” So I did this time at full volume and with great expression and over acting. “Again,” she said, so I launched again into that silly old song, “Gee, you sure sing good,” she said, as I modestly lowered my eyes and took the compliment.

What a small thing it was to offer this song to a young girl in my car on a cold snowy evening. Yet it was a gift, to N it was a wonderful present, mainly because I sang it just for her. Only for her, and I sang it 3 times. Three being the magic number. We finished our drive in quietness, which if you knew N, was itself a small miracle. I truly love this little child, and I did not realize until just now how much I care about her. And yes, she’s irritating, aggravating and just plain exhausting. But she loves with a pure heart; no strings but one attached. Every day she asks to come home with me, her little brother wants me to help him move into QUEST. Those two, what a pair, they have it all figured out, never, never go home, keep moving, almost anywhere will do. I will be haunted for the rest of my life by their small voices pleading, “Why not, why can’t I, no one will even know I am gone.”

I would know, you two, I would know immediately if you went AWOL and it would tear my heart in two. You two are not invisible, you matter, you matter to me and the rest of the world. I see you even when you can’t see yourselves.

Simone Weil was right. Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world, but people giving them their attention.

From the book “Tattoos On The Heart” by Gregory Boyle

“One day a very sad kid stumbles into my office and collapses in a chair. A homie with kids and other adult worries before he’s able to handle them, he just gives up.

“That’s it. I’m moving.”

“Were you movin’ to?”



“Yeah. This planet is tired of my ass already.”

Homies have been “outside for so long they forget there is an inside.

A homie trying to put words to this particular pain writes,

“My spirit is so sore. It hurts to be me.”

Now I came across this tidbit in "Tattoos On The Heart", and I simply had to share.

“Errands were an almost daily occurrence. Someone on my staff would go to Office Depot, Hannafords etc. to pick up supplies and the project kids would race to the staff members car. The luckiest one would get to ride shotgun.

One day a tiny kid 12 year - old Betito, rests his head on my fists on the front of my desk. He looks forlorn and asks sadly. “Hey, G are ya goin’ anywhere?”

“No mijo.” I say.

He comes alive, “Can I go wit ya?”

The destination, apparently was less important-it’s the going with that counted.

And “going with” how many times through the years have I written about my long rides with kids, big and little, teens and toddlers. Radio on top volume, and the aging white woman sitting in an overcrowded battered van, driving and singing. I know all the good rap songs, and don’t forget the R&B.

Spit’ in Anger a new documentary on African American males and the roles they play in their sons lives opened at the Spectrum Theater last week.

Kenneth Brasswell a black local father raised in Brooklyn and now living in Colonie, drew on his own experiences and much research on the toll that absent fathers bring to the lives of their own sons. He states that the deep sorrow those children feel cause them to act out in destructive ways and isn’t this similar to what Boyle is saying in “Tattoos On The Heart?”

Brasswell states “I am not being critical of black men as much as arguing accountability, arguing them to step up and tell their story as a way of being able to release the pain, and to begin to forgive and heal.”

He goes on to say he had learned from the abandonment of his own father. He was raised in Brooklyn by a single mom, and has worked to break the cycle with his own daughter after the marriage broke up.

“We’re seeing African American youths acting out as thugs and gangsters because they think that’s what manhood looks like. When fathers are not in the homes and not in the lives of boys and they have no male role models, they make some bad choices.

Eighty-two point three percent of black children born after 1990 will live in a home without their biological father before they reach age 18, compared to 55 percent for Latinos and 29 percent for whites.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice 80 percent of all men in America’s prisons came from fatherless homes.

“Anger is a secondary emotion that comes out of pain. We like to say that hurt people, hurt people.”

That film will continue it’s journey after Albany and move on to showings in New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Memphis, Jackson Miss., and Raleigh N.C. and later will be entered as a documentary in some film festivals.

The glory hole here is no showing in Schenectady. NONE. I let that stand on it’s own and make no further comment.

Now two funny stories about difficult situations both involving local police.

1.) The arrest- if you read this you know I often speak about the house next to QUEST, abandoned by all but thugs with drugs. An outside latrine for the people at large and a movable feast for stationary sex. Last week there was an actual arrest. 3 cop cars and 4 or 5 police.

In the cut through from Albany St. to State St. one lone teenager was found searched. And just like a Charlie Chaplin movie, every place they looked they found drugs.

Like magicians and card sharks they pulled those little glassine envelopes out of everywhere, in his hat in his hair, in his pockets. in his shoes, in his ear (just kidding with that one.) We just sat and watched, then they snapped on the cuffs and stuck him in the back seat. And all 3 cars rolled on.

2.) Next one Zaid’s Food on Albany Street had just been raided again, and I was driving by a bouncing out, and oops, badge on a chain hanging out, and him grinning and stuffing badge in from whence it came. How we all smiled and chuckled.

3.) Technically nothing to do with police here, just MEN. Riding down Emmett Street, one lane, one way road was blocked by a few cars, and before I could back up there were a few more cars behind me. After about 10 minutes the wild honks of a frustrated car could be heard and then a second and then a third and then on and on. Finally, I got out of my van and walked up the street to see for myself what the deal was.

A poor young woman embedded in a pile of snow, her car stuck at a right angle just far enough out to block the road. She had a shovel and was crying and shoveling all in the wrong places.

I walked back down the line of cars, and one woman driver got out and asked what was up. I told her and don’t cha know we strolled back to the damsel in distress, and the two of us pushed that sucker right back on the road. I must confess that my helper was really the hero here, short, stocky and close to the ground, she was, built to push. Ahhh but didn’t I relish the fact that I too helped.

As we walked back to our respective chariots, a man of about 35 was still working on his car. Hood up, head down. When a comment was made about his lack of community spirit, he got pretty huffy and yelled that he had to “work on his vehicle” or words to that effect.

I yelled back, delirious with accomplishment, “Yeah, and it took 2 women, one 72 years old, all of 30 seconds to get the job done.”

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” —Billy Mobayed

And isn’t that all of us, broken and scarred, you can not be part of a committed life and not carry some sort of damage, those who claim otherwise are not facing reality and are living in a padded room. Our community, our children, ourselves, me included all carry some sort of disfigurement. Lets make sure the gold shines clearly through and identify with pride, how we have grown and learned to live in the better world we have helped to make from a prison session at Folsom Prison.

Define Sympathy and Empathy and Compassion.

1.) Sympathy- Sympathy is when your homies mom dies and you go up to him and say, “Spensa-sorry to hear about your moms.”

2.) Empathy- Well empathy is when your homies mom dies and you say, “Spensa, bout your moms, sabes que my moms died 6 months ago, I feel ya, dog.”

3.) Compassion- coming next week. Read and see and feel.


On Tuesday 10 little girls standing in two rows humming quietly and juggling stars. Staring intently straight up and juggling stars. And this was in memory of all they lost in their short lives. There they stood in a darkened room juggling stars and the brightest lights in this dusty dim space, where their young and oh so lovely faces aglow with life’s beauty.

Ballet Classes-QUEST-February Tuesdays 2014

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