“Actionville” by Don Tedesco
Actionville: a place where learning is made a joy! That was the motto of this innovative and creative program that was born in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Domenick Tedesco on Mayflower Ave. in New Rochelle, NY in 1971. My goal was to come up with a name that would focus on a place of activity and fun, hence the words action and ville, a place of Action.
I would like to relate a short story that I feel is very important in the making of this book.
In 1971, and throughout the seventies and eighties, I would visit a store; the Appraiser’s Antiquity Workshop in my hometown. This store, run by Mr. Shapiro, was an antique shopper’s paradise. He had replicas of many famous art works. It was here that I found the Statue of Mabuta for our Indiana Jones Adventure, the King Tut Tomb for our study of Egypt, and a picture of the Mona Lisa for our French Exposition. There were many visits to this den, and I was always treated with respect. Mr. Shapiro referred to me as Professor since I was always asking for his unique and exotic works to use in Actionville.
One day in 1971, while looking around the store, I saw a little girl and I asked her name.
She replied that it was Rebecca. Then she said, “Aren’t you Mr. Tedesco from Actionville?” I replied, “Yes, how did you know that?” To this, she just smiled. She said “You are looking for a mirror, right?” “Yes,” I replied, “A mirror from the Colonial era since my class is studying that topic.” She directed me to an interesting mirror and said that I should borrow it. I asked her why, and she said it would help me in later years. I didn’t know what she meant, but the mirror was very interesting and looked like it had been used in a colonial tavern or home.
The mirror was a very good replica with an original, decorated
American eagle on the top. Rebecca said it was a Constitution Mirror,
and its name was “Once!” I asked her why that
name, and she that said I would get the answer sometime later in my life. This was so intriguing that I decided to see if I could borrow the mirror. Like always, Mr. Shapiro said yes. He instructed me to return it sometime in the future; no rush.
I stored the mirror in my classroom for many years, and after its initial use, really never gave it much thought. It must have been placed in a school closet, and when I had movers take all my school materials to pack and send to Maui, I never noticed that it was included. When I unpacked in Maui, I found the mirror and thought I should send it back to the store. I thought I would just take it back on one of my trips to the East Coast.
Last year, when I decided to write my book, I couldn’t remember many of the events or activities that took place over the 38 year history of my teaching career. At the same time I was thinking about the writing of the book, I took the mirror out of the closet for packing when I noticed something strange about it, there were six dials on the side.
Now, I had never seen these before so I decided to touch the first
one. There were pictures of my first three preActionivlle teaching
days. I was able to see so many of the things we had done in those first
three years. Intrigued, I touched the second dial and up came the first
thirteen years of Actionville in its first location. Once again, so
many ideas were generated for the book by studying the scenes on the
mirror. The same for the third button, the problematic seven years of
Actionville, and then the next button showed the Actionville Renaissance
during its last ten years. The final two buttons showed activities at
Hommocks School as a sixth grade teacher and as a fifth grade teacher at
the Westchester Day School. What a miracle! This mirror was giving me
all the necessary material I would need to write my book.
Now that the book is almost done, I have no use for the mirror anymore as it relates to Actionville, so I thought “Well, if it worked for recalling memories of Actionville, maybe I can get it to bring up other things in my past, like my time with my parents as a youngster or my many roller coaster vacations.” This did not happen. It just didn’t work anymore. It had to be that there was sometime wrong with it. I packed it up and sent it back to New York.
When I visiting New York in the Fall of 2014, I took the mirror back to the store. I was surprised that Mr. Shapiro had long passed away and that the store was now under new management. I thought I had reached a dead end, so I placed the mirror down, and, as I was looking around at the many antiques, I noticed a young girl looking at the mirror. I quickly recognized her and spoke her name, Rebecca. She looked at me with the same warm smile I had seen so many years ago. I called her name again, and the owner came over and said that there was no one by that name there.
My mind must have been playing tricks with me. I introduced myself and explained to him the story of the mirror and Rebecca. I apologized after keeping the mirror for so long. He thought for a moment and then said he had a letter for me that was given to him after he took over the store. It was addressed to Mr. Tedesco. After looking around for awhile, he found it and handed it to me.
Dear Mr. T,
I hope the mirror came in handy. You see, I always wanted you to tell
your story, and I thought that this particular mirror one day would
help you. Do you remember, the name of the mirror? It
is: ONCE! Well, the reason it will never work again is, because it can only work once, and you were lucky to have acquired it for your work.
Good Luck! Rebecca
I left the store amazed, yet sad that I would not be able to fully thank Rebecca for the gift of a lifetime, one that insured that the story of Actionville would be told.
Thank you, Rebecca.