Lady Liberty- A Biography by Doreen Rappaport

I am fortunate to live only a few miles from New York City. I take the ferry into the city a few times a year and we always pass the Statue of Liberty. I visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as part of a 5th grade class trip back in elementary school. She has always been in the background of my life, rarely coming to the forefront. However, after reading Lady Liberty: A Biography by Doreen Rappaport I look at Lady Liberty with a newfound appreciation.

Told in a series of individual poems, each of which focuses on a different person who contributed to the creation of the Statue of Liberty, Lady Liberty: A Biography is a gorgeous book suitable for any age. Doreen Rappaport chronicles the building of the Statue of Liberty from Laoulaye’s original idea, to completion may years later. From the salons of Glatigny France in 1865, to the workrooms in Paris in 1876, to the foundation pit of the statue in 1884, the reader is introduced to sculptors, poets, newspaper publishers, immigrants, and average citizens. From the newsrooms of New York City in 1885, to Bedloe’s Island and the big reveal in 1886, Rappaport pulls readers into this fascinating journey of two nations.

The illustrations by Matt Tavares are gorgeous and true to life. I felt like I was looking at a photograph of the Statue, albeight one taken over a century ago. The illustrations fit the text perfectly and add a whole new dimension to the biography of the Statue of Liberty.

A stunning book, I can’t wait to share this with my classes!

Memoir Monday- Stuff Yer Face

“I’ll have a baby boli combo, Corbett boli, with a salad and Italian on the side”.

This order is usually followed by a groan from whoever I happen to be eating with at the time.  Yes, I place the same order every time I go to Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick, NJ.  The corbett boli, similar to a stromboli, is full of broccoli and mozzarella cheese, with a touch of honey mustard sauce.  The baby boli combo is a small boli with a side salad.  In other words, complete nirvana.  Delicious, warm, melt-in-your mouth heaven in a basket.  And it’s always served with a side of nostalgia.

Biting into my corbett boli immediately takes me back to college.  I began eating at Stuff Yer Face during my freshman year, when going out to eat meant it had to be a special occasion.  College students never have a lot of spare change, so going out to eat it a rare event.  Stuff Yer Face isn’t a fancy, hoity-toity restaurant.  It’s a college bar, a family restaurant, and the first place celebrity chef Mario Batali worked!  My girlfriends and I, known amongst ourselves as the Douglass girls, ate at the eatery sporadically during school, as we rarely had money.  When we did have money, we usually ended up splitting a plate of potachos (“like nachos, made out of potatoes!” as my friends say).  We would count out our singles, probably driving the servers nuts.  But it was always a great night out.

As we began to lead separate lives due to graduations, new jobs, and new families, we started meeting up at Stuff Yer Face a few times each year.  It’s centrally located in NJ, a 45 minute drive for most of us.  More importantly, it has a million memories inside the wood-paneled walls.  It’s where I celebrated my 21st birthday, where Erin and I “rushed” a sorority, where we talked through relationships and eventual weddings.  It’s where bachelorette parties started and ended.  Where the Rutgers bowl games were watched.  Where homecomings were celebrated. It’s where we are always comfortable- the food and conversation flowing like wine.  It’s home.

It’s funny how a restaurant can be so much to one group of people, and so little to another.  Stuff Yer Face will always be my special eatery.  Not because of its food or stellar service, but because of the memories that lie within the crowded rooms and the scratched and dented tables.

*Ironically, Stuff Yer Face is located 3 doors down from Stacey’s memorable eatery,Thomas Sweets! Thomas Sweets is another special place for me, and I am now craving a Thomas Sweet’s milkshake.  🙂