A GARDEN & A HERO
Narrated by Mary Oppel
The story takes place at 338 Arlington Ave, a property my grandfather purchased in the 1960’s to use as a resource to help many people in need - for one reason or another.
Arlington Ave’s physical attributes consisted of a Turn of the Century victorian house, a large detached garage and a smaller one, which he used for his construction business. There also was a large crop garden that produced seasonal fruits and vegetables.
An Urban Garden
Arlington Ave is located in the Greenville section of Jersey City, NJ. This picture shows my grandfather holding my brother alongside my grandmother during peach picking season. Family and friends helped harvest fruits and vegetables. It was bushels of work!
SEEDS OF KINDNESS
Throughout my grandfather’s life he always found ways to use whatever resources he had to help others. Arlington Ave was one of the most prominent places where he used resources to make a difference.
Both garages that he used for his construction business were a place to provide an apprenticeship program to teach a trade to those with criminal records, helping to rehabilitate them into higher paying jobs. My grandfather was an advocate for rehabilitation.
In the Arlington Ave house, he boarded and provided food for a United States Veteran named Charlie. One day, I was helping my grandfather in the Arlington Ave garden, when a neighbor walked over to asked my grandfather "Who is Charlie?" He replied with these simple words, “My brother.” This perplexed me as a child, because I knew Charlie was not related. However, I always reflect back on this teachable moment. If we could just see beyond our differences, and treat others as brothers and sisters, we could plant more seeds of love and kindness.
Pictured in the Arlington Ave garden is my grandfather (left) and Charlie (right), a United States Veteran my grandfather provided shelter and food for until Charlie passed away in 1992.
We drew inspiration from Arlington Ave because of the garden that served as a source of healthy food and the inspirational lifestyle that represents the motto we live by: "Serve something greater than self ".