That Old Man I Used to Know
Applaud, friends, the comedy is over.
--Beethoven (on his deathbed)
The year my father was a graduate student at the conservatory in Chicago, he had to carry a full course load, prepare and give a recital, write a string quartet, write and orchestrate a violin concerto, take one academic subject at the University of Chicago (he chose poetry), write a thesis, and make up two undergraduate credits by correspondence from LSU, where he was normally on the faculty. He also had to support a wife and child. He was on sabbatical, at half-salary. His daily ration frequently was a lettuce salad and a cup of coffee. He was as thin as a fiddle string. His composition teacher, a Zen Buddhist from Indianapolis, attributed this to the vegetarian diet he'd clearly converted my father to--all that lettuce. My father refrained from disabusing his teacher of this notion, because he wanted an A. His teacher thought that my father, with his otherwise promising system cleaned out, could perform feats of creativity not yet seen in the classroom.
One day it happened. The teacher sent my father to the blackboard to write a piece in third rondo form. The board was so black, between the white lines of the staff, that it made my exhausted father think of night--and sleep. He stood at the board in a sort of stupor. The professor looked up from his desk and saw him standing there, motionless, chalk in hand.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"I can't seem to think," my father said.
"Write a key signature," he instructed.
"My father dutifully put two sharps on the staff.
"Now add a time signature," the teacher said.
My father wrote down "3/4."
"Carry on," he said, and left the room.
My father started writing. He couldn't stop--it was like a dream in which you have to get somewhere but you don't know where but you just keep going and the route begins to reveal itself. It was like the principle of inertia: Having started to write music, he would continue to write music forever, unless an outside force intervened. Notes blossomed on the blackboard like snowdrops, like crocuses. He filled up the blackboard on that wall, then the one on the second wall, then the one on the third. When the professor returned there wasn't an empty space to be found on any wall. What excitement for the professor! He made my father sit at a desk and copy down the whole thing on paper so he could take it home and show it to his wife, another Zen Buddhist, from Teaneck, New Jersey. To celebrate his culinary/musical advance, they took my father to dinner (my mother stayed home with my brother). Menus were brought. The professor and his wife waited proudly for my father to demonstrate his allegiance to vegetarianism. "I'll have a steak," my father said. They looked at him in shock. "I break over at times," my father explained, trying not to meet their eyes.
I like this story because in it my father does something for himself. He has a chance to eat a decent meal--and he grabs it. It must have been almost the only time in his life that he didn't efface himself, either out of obligation, anxiety and self-consciousness, or naivete. The men I've been serious about have been just the opposite--they took care of Number One first. That was true of my brother and my ex-husband, and it's true of the man I love most. Nothing gets between him and what he wants. Not that he's at all aware of this or would consider it a character failure if he were--and naturally, at the time I thought it was attractive, the way he took charge. I was impressed by how perceptive he was and didn't notice that that only gave him more leverage for manipulating life to his advantage. At the time, it seemed to me that he had my father's gentleness without the tendency to devalue himself that made my father assume he was locked out of the world before he'd even attempted to open the door.
On the tape on which my father's rendering of this story is recorded, his voice is faint. He was not far away from the microphone: We were sitting at the little table in the kitchen in England, where my parents had retired. (What they wanted to do with their retirement was listen to music, and there is more music per square foot in England than anywhere else in the world. The BBC begins its broadcasting day by playing a 440 A, so the entire country can go to work in tune.)
Dad had made that table, just as he made the first kitchen table I remember, the one in Ithaca, with a linoleum top, where he and my mother used to sit after one of their string quartet concerts, talking about how it's gone and why the goddamned cellist couldn't play "Come to Jesus" in whole notes. (It didn't matter who the cellist was; he never could play "Come to Jesus" in whole notes.) We were so poor then. The apartment was a walk-up railroad flat three flights above a grocery store, near Suicide Bridge. If the sun ever shown during the five years we were in Ithaca, I don't remember it--but my parents, post-concert, were radiance personified; they were walking, talking illuminations of the fact that beauty could be created anywhere. My mother would be in one of her evening gowns--she had one that was green silk, one that was gold satin, and a black-and-white net tulle, with a stole--and my father, handsome as a matinee idol with his classical violinist's profile, dressed to the teeth in tails. When he played the violin, my father became a different person--he was forceful, with a brilliant tone. He often said that music was a language. When he spoke "in music," his meaning was unmistakable, and his voice had authority.
His voice on the tape is faint because he has emphysema. I can hear him grasping for air like a beached fish. I can see the way his head jerks up when he does this, as if seeking more air--but the problem is that his lungs can't take in the air that's there. My parents were heavy smokers. They smoked so many unfiltered Chesterfields that when we lived in Virginia the dog was named Liggett and the cat Myers. Now my father can hardly talk, and even on the tape, made four years ago, his voice is vanishing.
It's as if he spoke up for himself so seldom in his life that his voice has atrophied.
What interests me now, the reason I am listening to this tape so attentively, is that, on it, there is no sign of mental impairment. My father is quick and detailed. It is not merely that he can still recite from The Book of Knowledge--the child's encyclopedia that has become a comic legend in our family as the source and sum of just about all his non-musical knowledge and from which he learned everything about the world that he could in Rock Hill, South Carolina, including how to make a cigar-box violin, which was, however, such a disappointment that he immediately designed and constructed another out of pine wood, carving the f-holes with a penknife--but he remembers the program Paderewski played at Emory Hall, how Fritz Reiner tried to get the concert-master fired so he could give the job to his friend Joseph Szigeti (who was twenty-five then, and whom I shook hands with backstage when he was seventy and I was twenty), and even, irrelevantly, the plots of his brother's short stories (a Frenchman comes to South Carolina and locates three gold pits, after having three portentous dreams about them, butt hen can't raise the money to mine them, and dies broke). If there is anything missing here, it is so minute that no one would know it. I ask him what he remembers about his childhood in the big house on Oakland Avenue. Leafy oaks lined the sidewalk. In the springtime, the jonquils were like floral light bulbs, glowing goldenly. Dray horses and streetcars traveled the length of the street. The streetcars ran on storage batteries rather than cables; they clanged down Oakland out to West Main and the car barn where they were recharged for the trip back. Why Rock Hill had this sophisticated mass transit system remains a mystery; there were not a lot of places to go in Rock Hill, South Carolina, no matter where you started out from.
They were trying desperately to sell that house, with its parquet floors and high ceilings and specialized rooms (the nursery, the parlor, the library, the sewing room). For a couple of years after my father was born, they were quite well off. His father was a lawyer, and, briefly, even a state senator. The townsfolk called him "Judge," but he actually refused to run for the office because he was afraid he might someday have to pronounce the death sentence on somebody. He was an imposing man, with red hair (but he married late and it was gray by the time my father was born), a massive head on a body like a display pedestal for a Roman bust, and a sense of humor, which he gave to my father, that sustained him when times turned hard. His brother, a wealthy businessman who had been his main client and income, died. By the time my father was old enough to start accumulating memories, his family was poor--much poorer than even we were in Ithaca, poorer than my parents in Chicago. The atmosphere in the house changed; it was as if the house itself had grown old, become sick and bitter and envious of youth. My father's father escaped from it into his office, where he read and reread his much-beloved Shakespeare instead of transacting business. He sat at his desk wearing a black mohair jacket, shoestring tie, stiff collar, and gray English morning trousers, reading plays which he already knew by heart. Meanwhile, my father's mother burst moodily upon the scene in the house's various rooms, melodramatically announcing to her children that she wished she'd never been born and so might have been spared the aggravation of their misbehavior. She was very pretty and possibly insanely pessimistic. The was seventeen years younger than her husband, a small, frail, dark woman with disturbingly bright, sparkling eyes. She had been a pampered child, the daughter of a plantation farmer who owned one thousand slaves. She never learned to cook or clean house; even after the money was gone, she refused to do either. She taught drama at the high school. My father was confused sometimes because she told such extraordinary lies that he was not sure whether he was supposed to laugh at them or pretend to believe them. My brother inherited her ability to rewrite reality whenever it suited him. My father, on the other hand has never lied about anything in his life, and when he impulsively said to the National Health doctor, who had come out to the house to bring my mother the cortisone for her inflamed arteries, that the next-door neighbors have the same last name he, the doctor does, Hood, my mother wondered why he would lie about something like that. The neighbors' last name is Woodbine. She asked him why he had said such a false thing. "I don't know," my father said, bewildered. "I really don't know." His eyes seemed to be scurrying around in his face like frightened mice. They disappeared under the shelf of his eyebrows. It was as if he was afraid to look at himself. "I can't imagine why I said that," he said.
And this is how it begins, the horrible end.
After his first year in Cincinnati, my father transferred to Chicago--a mistake, he said, regretting the loss of Perutz, his violin teacher there. I think he felt he'd betrayed Perutz by transferring. (Perutz was later found dead in an anonymous field, the victim of an overdose--whether accidental or intentional, nobody knew.) But Chicago was unbeatable in one respect. He worked as an usher at Orchestra Hall. "That was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, I think, he says on the tape. "It was worth more to me than my training at the Conservatory. Mischa Elman, Albert Spalding, Heifetz, Milstein, Paul Kohansky, Thibaud, oh God, I heard them all. Thibaud played the Symphonie Espagnole, Lalo you know, which ends with four high D's, three quarter-notes and a dotted half--and he was a half-step flat on all of them. I heard pianists and singers. Ravel. Koussevitzky conducting the Boston Symphony. But as for the fiddle players--nobody could touch Kreisler. Not Heifetz, not Milstein. He was the one." I ask him why, what made Kreisler special. "It was his tone more, I think, than anything else. He always played out of tune, you know, something terrible, but it was just so godawful beautiful. It was the sheer beauty of the sound that he produced. Tears came to my eyes. And the verve ... Well, he just influenced the whole world. Everybody began to imitate him. He had this intense vibrato, even in rapid-passage work, but it was his bowing too. Sometimes he never used more than this much bow. Yet he could sustain a note forever."
That's my father right there, his susceptibility to musical beauty and the nearly unattainable standards he set for himself and others. Contempt enters his voice whenever he mentions a musician who was less than "fine" or "sterling." I feel angry when I hear him being critical like that. My mother is even more critical. I know that they didn't set out to despise the world; they only externalized their self-blame. They hated themselves for not being perfect violinists--or just perfect, period. I want to wave a wand that will take away all that useless blame and allow them to enjoy life. "Some people are all right," I want to shout at the tape. "A lot of people are all right!" But would they listen? Did they care? The truth is, they were both pretty much uninvolved with the world of people. It simply didn't seem worth thinking about, the way music did. It's enough to make you believe in destiny: Something pulled this man and this woman out of unlikely backgrounds toward one life. While my mother was practicing down South, as if rehearsing for her future, my father was earning one glorious dollar a night ushering in Orchestra Hall. He worked the second balcony. Friday afternoons and Saturday nights, the Chicago Symphony played the series programs, Ferederick Stock conducting. When Kreisler played there , they had to set up seats on the back of the stage. On that occasion, my father was asked to usher on the side of the auditorium from which Kreisler approached the stage. On that occasion, my father was asked to usher on the side of the auditorium from which Kreisler approached the stage. Each time he went on, my father opened the door for him, and Kreisler never failed to thank him. Oh, my father remembers every soloist, the migrations of musicians and conducters all over the world, who studied with whom, and that the music librarian was the fourth trumpet player, a Mr. Hanke. How he loved those days and nights in Orchestra Hall! A woman who sat on the top row, aisle seat, always bought a box of candy which she shared with him, my young father, while he sat beside her on the steps. The dark red seats pitched down the slope of the hall like a field of poppies.
The word we did not want to hear has now been pronounced: Alzheimer's. It is a word that starts with a screech, like an untalented child at his first violin lesson. My mother asks if this means he will have to be placed in an institution. "Not necessarily," says Dr. Hood. "He is late to develop the disease. Institutions are for younger patients." In other words, he may die first.
Alzheimer's results in a marked alteration of both personality and ideation. I am not convinced that my father has it--this is a trendy diagnosis, an extensive evaluation has not been undertaken, it is easier (and cheaper) to write my elderly father off than to investigate the effects on him of depression, partial deafness, chronic hypoxia caused by emphysema, and steroid medications, which can induce psychosis.
My father knows something is wrong. He falls silent (that he barely has the breath to talk with anymore gives him an excuse). If he doesn't say anything, no one will know that he has trouble finding the right words. He is clever. When asked what year it is, he winks and says it's The Year of Living Dangerously--a bad movie I have told him about. When asked what day it is, he says it's the day after tomorrow will be the day before yesterday. These are two of the ten questions that are used to determine degrees of mental confusion. Where are we now? Where is this place located? What is today's date? What month is it? What year is it? How old are you? When is your birthday? What year were you born? Who is the president of the United States? Who was the president before him?
In the late stages of Alzheimer's, the patient has no memory, no history; in short, no self. He no longer exists. It is just as if the body is a house that has been boarded up and vacated by the mind. Ironically, the patient knows what is happening to him as his mind begins to say farewell: He denies it, he compensates for it, and eventually he feels a sense of loss that is like the loss of a loved one--his mind, his one true friend, the north on the compass of his relationship to the world, is gone. It has abandoned him, like a faithless lover.
He can no longer dress himself or find his way to the bathroom. He walks with a stoop, taking safe, mincing steps (the marche a petits pas). The snout reflex appears--a puckering of the lips. He becomes apathetic. He has no willpower because he cannot continue a thought long enough to make it the basis of purposful action. "It looks like death from boredom," commented the famous geriatrician Sir Martin Roth. The patient is bored because he can no longer engage in conversation, read, watch TV. He can no longer remember the names of his spouse, his children.
In my father's case, a further irony is to be found in that fact that a few years ago, long after the age when psychologists and psychiatrists stop allowing for any possibility of change, he began to change. Retirement was a blessing for him. He relaxed. He opened up. He wrote wonderful letters to me saying things he'd never admitted before. He donned a tweed Irish fisherman's hat, wrapped his warm English scarf around his neck, took up his cane, and walked Beauregard on the halter-leash. It was the first time in his life since he was a kid that he didn't have to work. He stopped to talk with children. He grew immensely fond of the old horse in the pasture at the edge of the Close and always took along a sugar cube for him, enjoying the ticklish kiss of the animal's leathery muzzle on the palm of his hand. He struck up conversations with passersby, friendships with the neighbors. The house got him down--like his father before him, he fled from pessimism and crisis. Mother's standards had become so extreme that, I guess, my father in rebellion began to lower his. He'd leave the house with his agitated heart knocking hollowly in his weak chest like an ancient steam radiator; and by the time he reached the candy store/post office he was simply happier than he'd been in his whole life, except of course for when he was playing quartets.
I asked my father when he knew that he wanted to play quartets. The Flonzaley Quartet came to Rock Hill, as part of the local college's concert series. "I fell in love with quartet playing right then," he says. "I never wanted to do anything else." He was still in high school--he was left end on the football team so the kids wouldn't tease him about his fiddle playing. The impulse to play had come mysteriously from somewhere inside him. He had taught himself to read music. He had earned the money from his first real violin from his paper route. It came from Sears, Roebuck, in a cardboard case, with a cake of rosin and a copy of the National Tutor, a home-study method. (Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward raised a generation of fiddle players.)
Violins were my parents' one luxury. My mother had a gorgeous little Soliani. My father owned a Guadagnini--one of the best Guadagninis. He had written to a Chicago firm in 1940, asking if they would sell him a Guadagnini on the installment plan. "What's the use of doing things in steps?" he wrote, defensively. "I'm going to keep on trading each fiddle in until I work my way up to a Guadagnini. Why not let me have a Guadagnini now?" To his amazement they sent him a Guaddagnini--and a contract for monthly payments that marched into eternity. We sometimes didn't eat, but nothing kept those checks from going in the mail.
It all speeds up.
One day I find my father standing in front of the chiming clock, staring at it intently. After a while I realize that he is not trying to tell time; he is trying to figure out why anyone would put numbers in a circle, making it difficult to add or subtract them. I walk up behind him and slip my hand into his. The knuckles of his hand are so swollen with arthritis that it would be impossible to finger a violin with it. Even though Cliff is no longer in my life, I can't help wishing he could have shaken this hand--the two men would have liked each other. I clasp it tightly. The ridiculous question I want to ask is, Why are good, hard-working people cheated out of their harmless dreams? I wasnt to ask this question even though I know there's no answer. I wonder what degree of mental confusion this indicates.
My mother can't decide between rage and pity. If she lets herself feel sorry for him, she opens the door on her own grief and fear. If she gets angry at him for deserting her, she finds herself berating him for things he does not understand. He wants to help out around the house. He tries to make a cup of cocoa--she works so hard, he can bring her a cup of cocoa. The pot boils over. He picks it up from the burner and sets it down in the plastic dishrack. The rack melts. He smells the scorch and moves the pot to another burner. Plastic has stuck to the bottom of the pot and seeps onto the stove--now two burners are ruined. The pot, the stove, and the dishrack are a mess. My mother yells at my father. My father retreats upstairs like a dog that has been shamed. My mother stands in the kitchen, shaking. She cries, cursing herself for her short temper. Then she sees me. "What are you standing there for?" she shouts. "Don't you have anything better to do than watch two old people fight?"
On the tape, he tells me how they met.
Black Friday visited the country in my father's senior year. He was catapulated straight from college into the Great Depression. I think that fact as much as anything contributed to his enduring sense of defeat. He couldn't find a job. Instead, he went to New York to study with Hugo Kortschak, a violinist who was highly respected by the critics and truly loved by his students. The warmth in my father's voice as he speaks of him is attractive. In Kortschak's apartment on East Ninety-first Street, they worked on the Bach A minor Concerto. "He was awfully good to me," my father says. Kortschak gave him every other lesson free--and when years later the maestro retired from Yale, he had no pension, because that was how a major university treated a first-rate violinist, and my father and his other students, who included Jack Benny, spontaneously undertook to raise a subscription to help him out. "Pity," Kortschak, his tounge in his cheek, said, when the reports asked him about Benny, "he would have gone far." Without Kortschak, my father says, he would have gone crazy in New York. For days on end, he had no one to speak to. He couldn't afford to go to concerts. The ushers at Carnegie Hall were old men with long white beards. The waiters, even the dishwashers, at the cafeteria were unionized. He almost stopped writing off for teaching jobs, having become convinced that something in his letters was turning people off, and when the director of music at LSU wrote to him offering him a job, he was afraid to reply in complete sentences. He sent a telegram: Is job permanent? All over the country, colleges were folding, as easily as if they'd been paper. Stopher--that was his name--wired back: Play well and teach well, and the job is permanent. My father raced to Kortschak's apartment, the telegram in his trembling hands. "Is this a job offer?" he asked, not daring to believe his own interpretation of the evidence. "It is," Kortschak said, smiling.
The train to Louisiana was packed. My father began to sweat, worried about his appearance, and sweated some more. His sister had bought his traveling clothes for him, all secondhand: a wool overcoat, wool suit. The compartment swayed back and forth hypnotically. Goldenrod and daisies sprouted alongside the train track like whiskers. He arrived in Baton Rouge at midday. A bunch of girls were at the station to meet him--a welcoming committee, he thought. They handed him a "bouquet" of stinkweed. They were furious with him for taking their adored teacher's place--Mrs. Sullied Mays was moving on. "Thank God," said my mother, the lone dissenter. That afternoon, in her farewell performance, Sullied played "The Swiss Lullaby," in which the violin is made to "yodel." Those stupid girls wept like the Alps melting--floods of spring. "I don't think it was so bad," my father said, deciding they were upset because the concert was so awful. He was still trying to be friendly. "I don't think you should cry about it." They glared at him as if he was a madman. Maybe he was. He had thought he was being tactful.
Stopper showed him around the department, opening studio doors randomly and introducing him to whoever was behind them. Uppermost in my father's mind was just one question: Was he good enough to teach the students? When Stouffer opened a door and introduced him to my mother, who was practicing for her upcoming recital, he thought, Well, I could handle her. "She's been proving me wrong ever since."
They both agree--Chicago was their happiest year. No money to buy Christmas presents for my brother--they had a grand total of twenty-five cents to spend. My father wandered around the five-and-dime, trying to work up the nerve to steal something. He didn't. He blew the quarter on a blue spinning top, and the grandparents sent wind-up trains and stuffed animals and Tinkertoys and tin soldiers. It was 1936, a charmed year, and nothing could go wrong. Sans sleep, sans food, sans money, they were energetic and exuberant, in love with each other and music.
It feels like I'm being cheated--someone is stealing him from me. His is my own stuffed animal, my tin violinist, my top, and someone has made off with him in his coat pocket--down the street, around the corner.
There are days when nothing seems to be wrong. Perhaps he says my name rather oddly often: Nina, did you bring in the mail? Tell me about life in Wisconsin, Nina. (I have told him that it is a bizarre place where hardy creatures hunch over tiny ice-holes in January, trying to coax winter-numbed fish into smelly, oily buckets. Seldom are these fish eaten-- they take up space in the freezer until summer, when they are pitched out to make room for canned tomatoes.) Nina, he says, I like your hair that way. Nina, Nina, Nina. And perhaps this is how he reminds himself who I am. But the sun shines, or it rains--nature is imperturbable--and life seems sad but comprehensible. Then there are the Other Days: He won't talk, won't look at us. He's afraid to go anywhere, do anything. He understands one thing only: that the world has become a treacherous place, full of deceptively innocent-appearing objects, like pots and dishracks, that can turn on him. When I ask him a question, I realize that his mind is like a house that has been ransacked--some things untouched, others overturned, some very precious things taken from him forever. This is disorganized crime. A memory-thief has been here--yanking out facts, making off with the best impressions. On these days, he is not the old one who finds life incomprehensible: I am left wondering what it means to be a person, when a stupid concentration of brain lesions, a webby jumble of neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques in the hippocampus and neocortex, can deprive you of any self-definition at all. Is my father a computer whose command disk just happened to get erased? Were his feelings of despair and unworthiness, that he fielded all his life and at the last was victorious over, simply bugs in the program that an improved childhood might have eliminated? Was his love of music and the violin a technological quirk? Is passion irrelevant?
He sits in the chair in front of the telly. He is wearing the sweater-vest that I sent him at Christmas time: He puts it one every day when he gets up and refuses to take it off until bedtime. It suits him: a muted blue-gray with a small print, with wood buttons. Very intellectual-looking, but masculine.
We sit in three chairs, in a row: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and me in the middle. This is how we pass our evenings. Tonight Pinchas Zukerman is playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the London Symphony in Festival Hall. Despite the TV-tinniness, the music is an affirmation, it is the one national anthem my family responds to. Me too--I'm with my folks on that, I'd give my life to create beauty like that. I have given my life to it.
This is what I'm thinking and maybe feeling a tad self-congratulatory about, when I look at my father and see that good old Pinky Zukerman, one of the truly nice people in the world, is playing a fiddle with five strings: The fifth string is invisible and extends from the television set to a bewildered frail man in a cherished sweater-vest. This is the man who once stood in a doorway in Richmond, while Oistrakh was playing this piece on the phonograph, and said, "My God, it just tears your heart out, doesn't it!" The music travels down that thread and my father weaves the pattern of his life out of it, teaching me what it really means to devote your life to something you love. During the cadenza, he is fully himself again. It was through music that he knew the world, and it's through music that he knows himself.
His hands are resting at his sides in a pose characteristics of Alzheimer's victims--cupped, with the thumbs adducted. But then his left hand starts to move--he is fingering the Beethoven Violin Concerto right along with Zukerman. My mother sees it too. He can still play. On the violin of his mind, he can still play,
Later, I go to my room and turn on the tape, listening to it from the beginning again while I pack my suitcase. Moonlight laminates the room. It makes the red geraniums in the windowbox look like slick plastic, like pinwheels.
On the tape, my father's voice speaks to me--not always about music, because he was capable of a wonderful self-deflating sense of silliness that he frequently used to puncture his own intensity. On almost any occasion, he could quote some appropriate piece of nonsense (not to mention Spartacus's speech to the gladiators, which he'd memorized for the school assembly at age eight: "Ye call me chief, and ye do well to call me chief!:"). I wonder how consciously self-referential he was being when to test whether our tape was working he recited the verse from Lewis Carroll with which the interview now begins, me not having any idea at the time that we were transferring from one reel to another a world, a life, that was already missing. Wheezing and laughing and choking, struggling for breath but cracking up over the complete craziness of it, he recites the first stanza, as he remembers it. I assume he got it from The Book of Knowledge:
And now, if e'er by chance I put my fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a righthand foot into a lefthand shoe,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who snorted like a buffalo,
A-sitting on a gate.
From My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers, by Kelly Cherry. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1990, p. 99-117. Reprinted with permission of the author. Copyright 1990, Kelly Cherry.