"Snow Angels" by Cynthia Yee

Thank you to Cynthia Yee (bio below), a local writer who shared with ACDC her story reminiscing about the fond memories she has of playing with her cousin in the snow on Hudson Street in the 1950s and 60s. That joy was short-lived after hundreds of immigrant families, including Cynthia's, were forced to move out of their homes due to the highway construction. ACDC is proud to have developed 146 affordable homes on Hudson Street, of which 51 all-affordable condos have completed construction this year. Aside from the few families who were able to stay, Hudson Street was left barren and quiet for over 60 years. This winter, we look forward to welcoming back the vibrant scenes and symphony of children and their families playing in the snow and making new, fond memories, once again.

Seeing Snow Angels in the newly fallen snow made me think of the children's book “Do Like Kyla”, a picture book for young children. Two African American children were on the cover making Snow Angels. In the story, one child flapped her arms first and the other copied her. I liked the motion, the feeling of lying against a bank of soft, cold snow, all bundled up, face warm from the sunshine, and flapping my arms until I made the imprint of of wings in the white, fluffy snow. What I liked most was the story of two children having fun together. It reminded me of playing with my cousin, Albert, in the snowy streets of Chinatown Boston when we were around five and seven years old and having such a happy, good time.

Cynthia (right) with her cousin, Albert on Hudson Street. Photo by Eddie Moon-Fun Yee, courtesy of Cynthia Yee.

Albert and I made snowmen, snow forts, and snowballs. We made imprints in the snow with our feet, swishing our feet in and out to make a fan shape. We brushed the snow off the cars with our knit gloves. He wore a black aviator cap with flip-up ear covers and I wore a long outgrown, but still serviceable, green knit hat that had a fur strip around the top edge like a headband and two long ties that tied under my chin. The snow felt cold and refreshing against our faces. Our Ai Sook loved his camera and took pictures of us playing in the snow. We were happy, as happy as angels, in the streets of Boston. Hudson Street was covered in white. It was white everywhere, white on the stone stoops where we played flip-up baseball cards in the summer, white on the stoop sides where our mothers sat and chatted on hot, summer nights, white on the parked cars that belonged to other people. White flurries swirled around us and we had tiny snowflakes here and there, on our hair, on our eyelashes, on our noses, on our arms, our pants and in our boots. We smiled at each other, giggling, as we put handfuls of snow on each others’ heads, backs and legs, and rolled in the snow.

Photo by Eddie Moon-Fun Yee, courtesy of Cynthia Yee.

We posed for our tall, handsome uncle, our Ai Sook, a man separated from his wife and six children in tropical southern China. My cousin and I were happy Snow Angels to him, a reminder of children far away. He smiled and pointed his camera. We grabbed a handful of the fluffy snow and smiled back, ever glad to be his American Snow Angels.

 Photo by Eddie Moon-Fun Yee, courtesy of Cynthia Yee.

Photo by Eddie Moon-Fun Yee, courtesy of Cynthia Yee.

Cynthia Yee grew up on Boston Chinatown's Hudson Street and is the original founder of the Asian American Resource Workshop Writers Group in Boston. She is a Boston-born educator, writer, storyteller, dabbler, daydreamer, traveler and cafe sitter. Her family originally hails from Taishan, Guangdong, China, a rural area, and she is deeply influenced by that cultural and culinary tradition as well as her New England Chinatown upbringing. Ethnic and open air markets, cities, the seashore, cafes, theatre, books, and hiking paths, are favorite places for inspiration.

Cynthia feels she has been privileged and enriched by witnessing, at close range, the everyday lives of people who live on the edge of mainstream America. She writes stories to honor their lives of resilience, humanity, and precious uniqueness and thereby contribute to the lexicon of American literature. She encourages other people of color to do the same.