Friday, June 27, 2014


my parents had grown up in a time of scarcity. although my father's family had been less affected by the depression than had my mother's,  the stringencies of the war were nothing unusual to them. the post-war world hit them harder than the atom bomb, although the blow seemed much kinder and gentler. all of a sudden one could have just about anything one wanted. one of the first things they got was a kid, me. i was begotten in san diego as soon as  my father's ship landed. they wanted a son. i was one, fair-haired first born of the family, and first grandchild. i was a great hit.

by 1950 my father had graduated from college and bought a house, all financed with the help of the gi bill, and in 1951 he even bought a hudson, with which he intended to enter the panamerica road race. my mother threw a fit.

also in 1950 was begotten the second child. numero duo was to be a daughter. i was told i would have a little sister. i was thrilled, having no clue what a little sister was, but sharing my parents' excitement. i made room for it in my toy box. (those were the days, exuberant post-war prosperous as they were, when a kid's toys would fit in a foot-locker sized box; mine was pine, with a cowboy-lassoing-a-horse stencilled in red on the lid.).

 it was a hoax. the little sister proved to be a little brother, jack kenneth, born 20 february, 1951. i didn't mind the switch of sexes. indeed it would only be when gary sauheaver had a real little sister in about 1953 that i learned the essential difference. but it was not mine. even though my parents were disappointed, and my mother would remain disappointed 'til her dying day, that there was not a daughter, i was disappointed because it was not really mine. i could not keep it in my toy box. i could only hold it with supervision. and my parents slept with it just like i did my stuffed monkey boko, but it was much messier than boko ever was.

of course i had no idea how much becoming part of a two-child family would change my little solipsistic world.  like all the changes of the post-war revolution, it would be for the better, really, but not always easier for that. we now had better living through chemistry. my cousin fred would become rather rich by finding a way to take the static shock out of nylon carpeting. progress was our most important product, but the progress that was the civil rights movement, for instance, would tear holes in the fabric of my little home town of jonesboro that are perhaps still not entirely patched.

in 1952 i would start to school, and we would learn to duck-and-cover. it's probable that mutually assured destruction did prevent a bigger clash between the u.s.a. and the u.s.s.r., but north korea is still paying the truce tax. the world in 1951 was  much like my toy box, all prepared for events which would be nothing as we expected.

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