life rattle Radio show no. 1149
Aired on CKLN FM 88.1 april 24, 2011
Hosted by Yanique Bird
tonight's writers and stories
Rocco Giancarlo Racco, the elder of three children, was born in Brockton Village in the west end of Toronto's Little Italy. His father bid farewell to the bustling shore of Messina, Sicily in 1960 to meet his sweetheart and new life in Canada. The mighty Vulcania left its wake in the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean, battled the frigid white-capped waters of the Atlantic, and after 12 days, came to rest upon the beckoning unfamiliar shore of Pier 21, Halifax Harbour. Rocco has worked 24 years as an English teacher, Department Head of English, and Principal of Adult and Continuing Education. Besides completing his second Masters Degree at the University of Toronto and preparing for Doctorial Studies in Education, he spends his time capturing the flavours and sounds of life through his writing. He continues to travel and experience life in different areas of the world. He lives with his wife and three children in Woodbridge, Ontario.
The main protagonists in Racco’s stories will remain with you long after the show is over. Ming Lee and Grandpa and Jim will haunt you, not in a ghostly way, but in how each deals with (or doesn’t deal with) things both said and unsaid.
In “The Apology,” an English-as-a-second language teacher in Hong Kong is astounded when a student returns an hour after school is let out to apologize deferentially for, and remove, a chewed piece of bubble gum wrapped in a tissue in her desk.
Jim in “Grandpa and Jim” is under firm orders to get the farm chores done before his father gets home from the market. Grandpa interrupts the boy’s daily grind with a fantastical dream of a buried treasure and magical garbanzo beans.
Nancy Chong, a frequent contributor to Life Rattle, was born the fourth of six children, in 1955 in Toronto, on Phoebe Street, which straddles the trendy Queen Street west area and the Spadina Avenue Chinatown. Her father emigrated from China in 1913 and arranged for her mother’s arrival in 1949, two years after the Canadian government repealed the Exclusion Act. Nancy dropped out of high school in grade 11, got married in 1974 when she was nineteen and is still married to her husband David, who is not Chinese.
In 1993, she received a Canada Council Explorations Grant to work on a book of stories about her mother. The grant enabled Chong to extensively interview her mother which was complicated because Chong does not speak Chinese well and her mother spoke only Chinese. The grant allowed Nancy to hire an interpreter to help her with the interviews.
Chong's stories were originally recorded on cassette tape, which have not held up well. The quality of the sound may not be so great, but after you hear tonight's story, you’ll know why we couldn’t leave it on the shelf.