The story

I was walking home from the library carrying nine books. That's the way my memory sees it. I can't know for sure if it was exactly nine books. Maybe I picture nine books because I was nine years old. I'm certain that I was nine years old, because I'm sure of the date -- June 9, 1943. There were a lot of books under my arm on that summer day because I loved books. I wonder what happened to those nine books ...

There were three squad cars in front of my apartment building. Flivvers, we called them. I don't remember exactly when I started to hear my mother's screams. But as I hurried up the steps, a cop quickly came down, straight for me. He picked me up and the books went flying.

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I'm not sure if I knew the cop. But I may have. For years, before the war started and my father went to work in the defense plant, he'd owned a little neighborhood bar and grill. He was friendly with all the cops. The cops loved my father the way they loved any bar owner who had a great sense of humor. I remember having my own police costume when I was very young. A badge and a little nightstick came with it. I'd make like I was walking the beat.

The cop put me in the squad car. He told me that my father had died. Heart attack. Read full article »

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