Park Street Cultural Tour
On a lovely morning in late spring, we walked a half-mile from school to Beth Israel Synagogue, where the kids’ jaws dropped when Rabbi Katz uncovered a Torah scroll – and then chanted a passage from it. We walked next to nearby Meriter Hospital where Monica Messina (parent of one of our students) led several activities, such as changing diapers on full-size baby dolls, that she taught to expectant parents at the hospital’s birthing center.
We caught a public bus north to where Park Street ends at the University of Wisconsin campus on the shore of Lake Mendota to visit the Hoofers who have their facilities under Park Street – the kids loved their boat ride and practicing sailing skills in small boats on land.
At the Bayview Foundation, we interviewed Nancy Giffey who had worked with children to make a mural representing the many ethnicities of their families living at Bayview Apartments. In the adjacent small park, we met Raul De Luna who taught us how to play Bocce, a game played by the Sicilian immigrants who settled this land a century ago.
A parent who worked at UW Space Place hosted us there for the rest of the afternoon until after breakfast the following morning. We saw their exhibits, had a family potluck, and listened and danced to the music of Mexico Lindo, a mariachi band. Just before dusk, we walked on the bike path along Wingra Creek to the dam at the edge of Lake Wingra, observed people fishing, and interviewed a fisherman.
Student Observations >>
This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.
202 South Park Street
Lots and lots of babies are born every month here. Meriter and St. Mary’s have the most newborns every month, [more] than any other hospital in Madison.
Monica M. is a birthing educator at Meriter. She showed us some techniques and methods she uses in the classes that she holds up to six days a week.
A relaxation exercise she uses is having them breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth. They concentrate on their breathing. She has them take away tension in each muscle group.
To simulate the pain of labor, she has the women hold ice. She tells them to concentrate on their breathing and try not to notice the pain.
There are about 300 childbirths every month at Meriter. Meriter is always competing with St. Mary’s. Sometimes Meriter will be ahead, sometimes St. Mary’s will be ahead.
We did an ice exercise where we held ice for forty-five seconds. The first time it was really hard. It felt like hundreds of needles were shooting up my arm. The second time it was really easy. Why? Because we were concentrating on our breathing not how painful it was. Monica told us that pregnant women have to do this exercise five times a night. She tells every woman this saying, “The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery.”
Looking into the cup
Knowing soon you’ll have to hold the Ice
Picking up the Ice
Feeling the cold turn into pain
The chill is moving through your arm
Hearing a painful noise coming from others in the room
Letting the Ice fall back into the cup
You can’t feel your fingertips
You’re going to pick Ice up again
601 Bayview Street
Bayview has many different ethnicities, including Southeast Asian, African American, Hispanic, and many other people.
A mural that Nancy Giffey painted is on a wall in Bayview. It is called “Bayview Magic Carpet.” It has a picture of Monona Bay. There are a lot of symbols on the mural that symbolize different ethnicities in Bayview.
There are many moons, which symbolize Native Americans. There are Japanese cranes, a moon and star that represents Islam, a dove for peace, and animals that represent nature. There is also a wheel that represents Buddhism.
Nancy Giffey told a small story: “When I was done painting the mural, I saw some Native Americans come in. They looked at the mural for a minute and then said, ‘Thank you for putting the water spirit in.’” She didn’t even know she put the water spirit in the mural. The world is full of surprises.
Many waning yellow moons
Sit in the softly lit sky
Water-spirit floats on the surface
Of the bay that’s ours
Orange tree, Osage
Hangs over the peaceful night
Majestic birds stand in tall grasses
Mythical figures circle around
Swaying, silent leaves
Whispering, but no sound comes
Watch it all, the twilight scene
Forever, as long as living things
Bocce (pronounce bah-chee or boh-chay) is an ancient game from the time of the Roman Empire that originated somewhere in Europe. The Romans took it, brought it back to Italy, and refined. It is the third most popular sport in the world and our class was lucky enough to be taught it by Raul De Luna, a pro (at least in my eyes).
We visited… a park neighboring Bayview Apartments to play bocce ball with Raul De Luna. Raul, being a Mexican-American, wasn’t born into the game. He was attending a party where his friend forced (by dragging) him across the lawn to where the bocce ball courts were set up.
A bocce ball court can simply be a couple of flags arranged in a rectangle. The fancy courts consist of layers of rock under a hard slate board with a light layer of turf on top.
The game consists of nine balls (eight large and one small). The small ball is called the pallino which each team of two tries to get their four balls closer to than the other team’s balls.
Bocce ball is said to have originated in Italy, but it is so old that no one is sure. Bocce ball is over 7,000 years old.
The concept and goal in bocce ball is to roll a larger ball and try to get it as close as you can to a smaller ball called the pallino. This takes places in a court that is similar to a bowling alley except about four to six times wider. At the beginning of the game, you roll the pallino, which is usually neon orange for better visibility, to any certain point on the court. Then, you try to roll one of the four larger balls as close as you can to the pallino. At the end of the round you see whose ball got the closest to the pallino. If it was you, you get a point.
Thud, clink splat,
The balls plop
Close to little pallino.
In and out go the teams
First we are in the lead
Then we are out.
If you win, so what
It’s the point, but not the purpose
The purpose is to have fun!!!
Wins a game.
I carry the pallino
To the other end of the court
I throw it
Letting the delicious weight
Leave my hand
Anna throws a blazing sun
Sara throws a cherry.
Beth Israel Synagogue
1406 Mound Street
The first thing I noticed when I walked up to Beth Israel synagogue was that it didn’t have a steeple. Instead, above the main entrance it had Hebrew writing and a big Star of David. Then, when we got ourselves seated in the sanctuary, I was surprised to see that Y’ael’s (a girl who was in my brother’s class last year) father was the rabbi! We went around telling our names, and Rabbi Katz said most of our names were from Hebrew origin, including mine. It was Shmuel.
Then he showed us the Torah. He said it was similar to the Bible except in large scrolls.
There is an “open door” policy in all synagogues. Anyone is able to come in and it is not considered rude to come in during the middle of a ceremony.
Traditionally you are Jewish if your mother is Jewish. But now you can be considered Jewish if either parent is.
Rabbi Katz told us that there is no reason ever to be shy at a synagogue because the people there will always be friendly to you. That’s just the way it goes.
[The Torahs] are long scripts of parchment that you chant out of during the service on Saturdays. They had small print Hebrew that you had to read from right to left. They were covered in very elaborate coverings that represented the elaborate costumes of priests in the old days.
Wrapped in cloth
Of blue and gold
Of green and red
And of gray
With metal breastplates
And bells adorning
With ribbons blowing
In the artificial wind.
Like the stories
Of ancient times and
Wisconsin Union Hoofers
800 Langdon Street
If you’ve ever driven down or up Park St. you’ve probably never seen Hoofers. Do you know why? It’s because technically, it’s not even on Park Street… It’s under it!
Hoofers does many activities, but the four they do at that building are wind surfing, sailing, kayaking, and canoeing. But the thing they are most well-known for is the sailing. Hoofers sail… a lot! Hoofers has many, many boats. They even make some.
They have a thousand members and sixty to seventy people go sailing a day. But all at different times. And these members are at any age. Mostly college students here but they have kids who are members, seventy years and older, even dogs are members!
We were told what the rescue boat does and how it works. Also we learned how to tie a figure eight knot.
We saw two boats getting worked on, one that was almost finished and one that just came in. The one that they were just about done with had a nice coat of new paint and looked almost new. The boat that just came in was really ratty looking. It had paint flakes peeling everywhere and most of the top had no paint.
The third station was to practice sailing on land. Two people got into a boat at a time and spent about three minutes practicing moving the boat and the sail. When you turned, the sail moved so you had to duck your head when the boom came towards you. It was a very small boat, but it gave you the basics of sailing.
They use flags for signals. Blue flags mean strong winds. Yellow flags mean there could be a storm, so boats have to say by a line. A red flag means there is a storm and all Hoofer members have to come back to land.
They have a steam whistle to blow whenever there is a storm coming up. When they think it’s a storm they blow it twice or if they have enough steam, three times. They also blow it once to warn sailors it’s an hour to sunset so that gives them time to get their boat back to shore before dark.
The Tech [boat]… is a really fast boat good for races, a lot of people can ride in them at once, maybe eight to ten people and of course a dog or two.
Hoist the sails!
Man the oars!
Tis’ golden to the ears of a sailor
Tis’ rubbish to a landlubber like thee.
See the flag,
Tis’ yellow with the caution,
Green for the okay —
Tis’ red the one to watch for
As you see the rolling white caps.
Rock, rock, rock
Forward, back, forward, back.
Creak, creak, creak
Flash of light
Rush of cold air
Black clouds tumbling over the horizon
I can feel it on the wind
Storm’s a rollin’ in.
Mexico Lindo is a mariachi band. It has two guitarists, two female dancers, and one pianist. One thing that really impressed me was the amazing costumes. The men had black sombreros with white embroidery in it. They had black pants and shirts on with a small red bowtie. The dancers’ outfits were phenomenal. They had white blouses on and different color skirts. The skirts had lace ribbons.
The dresses the two women are wearing are very long, so they hold them up (which is also part of the dancing). They twirl in circles (probably making them dizzy!), making sounds with their tongues that sounds like “raiaiaiai!” One of the ladies has a little girl wearing a shorter dress, and she tries to dance with the women. The women stop twirling and swing their hips from side to side, except they stop a fourth of the way around and spin in the other direction (how do they learn this?)
The dresses were very colorful. The stripes, the patterns, the twirls, made both of the dresses seem alive with movement and beauty.
The music hall had a never-ending beat that, no matter what mood, kept you moving. You couldn’t be shy or embarrassed, because there was nothing to worry about.
All the songs are in Spanish and sometimes the boy sings and sometimes the girl dancers sing. The boys have fancy shirts and pants and have cool hats. The girl dancers have clothes with a lot of decoration.
Their songs are about love and expression.
They say that they pretend to be a mariachi band because usually a mariachi band would have a violin, bass, guitar, and maybe a piano, but they don’t have all those instruments.
Round and round and round
Fireworks on a wheel.
Magic comes from the fingertips
I like the love songs of life
Voices ring out to the world
I end up wondering
“How can they do all this
in just a five person band?”
Fishing on Wingra Creek
In the evening on Thursday we decided to walk along Wingra Creek to find fishermen. The fisherman we found was named Aaron Campbell. He was very friendly. We asked him the question you first ask all fishermen: have you caught any fish yet? And yes, he had. He had caught a few small fish. He fishes with different kinds of lures. The place we found him was a little bit closer to the dam. He says he likes this place more because there aren’t as many fishermen there.
He was fishing along Wingra Creek by the bridge to enter the town of Madison… He uses catch and release and mostly doesn’t use live bait. He uses spinner, sinkers, and floaters along with fake worms and leeches.
Standing on Wingra Creek
Silhouetted against the sky
He caught a fish!
I think it is a blue gill
He put it back in its watery home
So it can live there until it dies.
I cast my line
Waiting for a bite
I wait, I wait
I jerk my line!
I’ve got a fish!
It’s mine! It’s mine!
I take it off the hook
It would be a sin
It wouldn’t cook
And throw it back in.