Samantha Gonzales: Reporter / Writer

My name is Samantha Gonzalez. I was born June 25th, 1982. The reason I want to work with HarlemLive is because I want to get to know about Harlem and the past and present and to affect its future. Maybe my experience with HarlemLive will get me somewhere in the future. I hope I have a good experience working on this publication and meeting new people.

I like to write poems about me and how Ifeel about things. I like to have fun and to do and learn new things. I am a person who always is doing something to keep myself busy. I am a nice person to get to know.

My Querencia: Randall’s Island

by Samantha Gonzales

My Querencia is at Randall’s Island by the water under an apple tree, by myself. It’s a place where I can think and write my thoughts and poems. I sit near the water by the walls of grass that are all around. I sit under a green apple tree. I look at the waves go by. It makes me think and wonder about things and the future.

Randall’s Island, between N. Manhattan and Astoria, Queens

I remember when I was mad at my friend because we had an argument. I had no one to talk to, so I put my notebook in my bookbag, got on my bike and left my house. Off I went to Randall’s Island to my little spot by the water under the apple tree. I just thought about things to do to make up with my friend. I took out my journal and wrote things I could do to make up with my friend. I wrote down to call her on the phone and talk it out. I really didn’t know what to do. I lay down under the apple tree and fell asleep. When I woke up I decided to just talk to her about it. Then, I rode my bike home.

I wish I could go to my special place everyday but I can’t, so what I do instead is listen to music in my room and write poems. That is my querencia.

My Querencia: In My Room with My Music

by Angel Colon

A few years ago my bedroom was filled with stress and depression. A few years ago my room was almost filled with tears. A few years ago I was sitting down listening to music, hard-core rap music. I know it may sound corny, but that’s where my power is.

Hard core rap music may not be your querencia, but it sure is mine and I’m proud of it, too. Whenever I have problems or I feel down that’s where pride waits for me.

Those few years ago was when my mother was robbed and me, and my brother and my oldest little sister witnessed the horror. We were in the elevator returning home with our bikes after riding around the projects. It was about 8 at night. A man who seemed nice helped us put our bikes in the elevator. I wondered what he was doing because he pushed the buttons to both the third and fourth floor. Once the elevator stopped on the third floor, he asked for jewelry, while he held his hand behind his back. My mom gave him her wedding band and necklace name chain. Then he made sure the door was closed and the elevator went up. I didn’t cry but crying did cross my mind.

Once we saw my father, my mother told him what happen. I went to my room, closed the door and sat down and listened to music and thought about nothing in particular. Music, that is my querencia.

Remembering Hue Man Book Store in Harlem

photos and story by Reuben D. Quansah

Harlem is going through a major commercial transition as outside big business companies enter and take control of this highly black populated community’s business market. In the process, the Harlem-ites chance to develop an economic pie that is for the people by the people, is alas curtailed. In such a delicate time, businesses that are akin the Hue-Man Bookstore have come to the rescue of the Harlemlites. By no means is this an ordinary bookstore. This landmark stands emblematic as the largest African American book store in the United States of America. Many African American evinced their gratitude merely by coming and showing their satisfaction with the newfound establishment. 

Oh was it a sight to see on Friday, August 2nd as the Hue-Book store commenced its grand opening at five o’clock. At this time, there were few guests and the staff went through their extra rounds of keeping the atmosphere looking spiffy. A few reporters and guest took the time to skim through the multitude of books around the store. The staff members, who took part in the building of the store, were pleased to see the people there in the beginning. As Sales Associate, Marc Edwards put it, “Today is the day to get the message out.” Trinee, another Sales Associate, who considers herself a pro-black worker, stated that “from the 1st nail, to the first sale, [Clara Villarosa] has made things happen.” Clara Villarosa, the owner of the store returned from her retirement to run the store. Earlier in her life, she owned an African American bookstore in Denver that provided service to many, including actor, Ozzie Davis and actress Ruby Dee. 

While, the people awaited the arrival of Mrs. Villarosa, they enjoyed the company of the plethora of black artists. Jay-Z, one of the early birds at the event, said that he was there to show his support to one of the fellow contributors to the stores development. For Harlem Live, he had a few words to say about the significance of the bookstore and its possible influence on the teenagers of today. He placed emphasis on the idea that it is “a question of knowledge” hat those who know about this resource can take advantage of this resource. When asked what role he will play in helping the develop of the bookstore, he said stated, “I’ll do what I do…I’ll give the information.” Romero Chamber who accompanied him mentioned that “[the bookstore] is long over do.” He said that he plans to bring his children there. 

As the evening progressed, more reporters, celebrities, community members and politicians made their presence known by forming small hubs at just about all corners of the store. There, holding worthwhile discussions, signing autographs or making connections were so

me of the many things that went on. By this time Mrs. Clara Villarosa was meeting and greeting the guest before a large presentation of which she was going to take part in with a special guest. Meanwhile sponsors such as Dawn Nile of the Empowerment Zone remained low profile and enjoyed the atmosphere. She pointed out the importance of this bookstore and its need to stay in existence. Many shared the same views as Dawn Nile, such as actor Ozzie Davis, who mad it clear that the Harlem community must attain an economic balance in order to abet it development. He said that “reading should be pleasure,” thus doing what we please we can develop ourselves economically. 

As the presentation takes place the glowing Clara Villarosa tells her story of she gets involved bookstore’s completion. Satisfied with the turnout of people, she tells the audience how she is happy to see “the wall to wall people.”

New York City’s Finest

by Ryan Edwards

Photos by Eddie Aung

In 1648, New York City founded its first official fire-fighting department. Prior to this, fire fighting was strictly a volunteer service. Despite this change a long time ago , volunteer fire fighters still outnumber the paid. In the 353 years of the New York fire department, thousands of men and women have worked hard to save lives on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to interview one of them. Captain John Newell of the 58th Engine in East Harlem has been fighting fires for the last 20 years. Captain Newell, now 50 years old, attended Suffolk Community College, majoring in General Studies, but he always knew he wanted to be a fire fighter. Being the son of a volunteer fire fighter, Newell felt a special calling to the civil service. He began fighting fires at the 45th Engine in the Bronx.

In 1648, New York City founded its first official fire-fighting department. Prior to this, fire fighting was strictly a volunteer service. Despite this change a long time ago , volunteer fire fighters still outnumber the paid. In the 353 years of the New York fire department, thousands of men and women have worked hard to save lives on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to interview one of them. Captain John Newell of the 58th Engine in East Harlem has been fighting fires for the last 20 years. Captain Newell, now 50 years old, attended Suffolk Community College, majoring in General Studies, but he always knew he wanted to be a fire fighter. Being the son of a volunteer fire fighter, Newell felt a special calling to the civil service. He began fighting fires at the 45th Engine in the Bronx.

When I asked the Captain how he feels about his job, he answered “I love my job.Sometimes I drive my friends crazy talking about my work.” Even though Newell is ecstatic about fire fighting, he does not want his daughters in the same line of work. “It’s too dangerous,” says Newell. Newell told me about many close calls, including a time when he was in a building and his superior officer pulled him out seconds before the building collapsed. The test to become a firefighter is very different now from how it was in 1977(the year Captain Newell took the test). The old test started with a written portion, “Out of the 40,000 who took it, only 10,000 of us made it on to the physical part of the test, that’s how competitive it was ” boasts Newell. The physical portion of the test consisted of an obstacle course, a “bar hang” (similar to pull-ups, minus the pulling), and a mile run. The test that is given to today’s recruits is a lot different .” It’s more job related,” says Newell. Today’s test still consists of a written portion, but the physical section is different, including a hook test, (in which candidates have to throw up a hook that actual fire fighters use) .As another part of their test they have to carry a 140 lb dummy up and down stairs.

As much fun as his work is, Cpt. Newell does have a life outside of the firehouse. In his spare time he coaches his daughter’s softball team, and he also likes to boat and fish. Cpt. Newell showed me that fire fighting is not only rewarding, but also a fun and interesting line of work. In addition, Cpt. Newell made me realize that firefighters are an extremely important part of our society. We owe a lot to them, for they selflessly put their lives on the line to save ours, everyday. We should thank and honor Cpt. Newell and others like him.

Read more about fire relative stores and tips

• New York Fire Department

Aboulaye Ballo

Hello my name is Aboulaye Ballo. I am twelve years old. I was born in Ivory Coast of West Africa on August 1st. I go to the Broadway Center for the Arts and Academics (B.C.A.A) M.S 44 in 77th street. I like to play basketball. I am a real good basketball player. I have a jumper and I take it in easily. That’s not the only thing I am good at. I am a very good artist. I could draw anyone or any thing if I try very hard. I have only been here in the Harlem Live since Wednesday, October 16, 2002. I am the youngest of everybody in there. I live in an apartment building on 112th Street and St Nicholas Ave. I live with my mom, dad, sisters , and one brother. I live in a nuclear family, which is an family that contains brothers, sisters, mother, and father.