When I was younger, I remember my two widowed aunts tidying up the kitchen. They lived in the province with their brother, my widowed grandfather. When we visited them, we ate in their simple kitchen built with bamboo floors. They came wearing traditional Filipino dresses. They looked so beautiful for me (in their old age and single blessedness), and the kitchen smelled like fresh flowers. The other kitchen I can remember is the kitchen of my grandmother in a far remote place, along the Pacific Ocean. My grandmother's kitchen is a big kitchen built of wood. Imagine how old houses looked. There was firewood, big cooking utensils, as if they're always serving 100 people everyday. There were sacks of rice piled on top of the other. Chickens were roaming in the backyard, down the back kitchen door. I don't know why I can always remember kitchens, even when I go to other homes, in different places. I love that kitchen part of the house. Many people say "The kitchen and the toilet are very important rooms in the house. They must be kept clean and orderly at all times." Now, I have my own kitchen where I raised my kids. And as they're grown ups, I like to work and write here. When I read Afred Kazin's "The Kitchen," it delighted me by what Kazin saw in the life of her mother. He focused on the kitchen room as the largest room and the center of the house. It was in the kitchen where his mother worked all day long as home dressmaker and where they ate all meals. He writes: "The kitchen gave a special character to our lives; my mother's character. All the memories of that kitchen were the memories of my mother." In his essay, Alfred Kazin remembers how her mother said, "How sad it is! It grips me!" though after a while, her mother has drawn him one single line of sentence, "Alfred, see how beautiful!"
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This sentence-combining exercise has been adapted from "The Kitchen," an excerpt from Alfred Kazin's memoir A Walker in the City (published in 1951 and reprinted by Harvest Books in 1969). In "The Kitchen," Kazin recalls his childhood in Brownsville, a Brooklyn neighborhood which in the 1920s had a largely Jewish population. His focus is on the room in which his mother spent much of her time working on the sewing she took in to make extra money. To get a feel for Kazin's descriptive style, begin by reading the opening paragraph of the selection, reprinted below. Next, reconstruct paragraph two by combining the sentences in each of the 13 sets that follow. Several of the sets--though not all--require coordination of words, phrases, and clauses. If you run into any problems, you may find it helpful to review our Introduction to Sentence Combining. As with any sentence-combining exercise, feel free to combine sets (to create a longer sentence) or to make two or more sentences out of one set (to create shorter sentences). You may rearrange the sentences in any fashion that strikes you as appropriate and effective. Note that there are two unusually long sets in this exercise, #8 and #10. In the original paragraph, both sentences are structured as lists. If you favor shorter sentences, you may choose to separate the items in either (or both) of these lists. After completing the exercise, compare your paragraph with Kazin's original on page two. But keep in mind that many combinations are possible. The Kitchen*
In Brownsville tenements the kitchen is always the largest room and the center of the household. As a child I felt that we lived in a kitchen to which...