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Afterword I t was the summer of 1950 , and my parents had packed me off to an overnight camp in the Catskill Mountains that was adjacent to a body of water surrounded by hemlocks, called Sackett Lake. On the other side of the lake stood a resort,The Laurels,where the affluent parents of some of our campers went to do whatever grown-­ ups did at such places. Presumably they were there to dine, dance, and enjoy the well-­ groomed golf course and evenly lined tennis courts. But being in such surroundings was not my destiny that summer. I was not at camp to revel in sumptuous pleasures. My parents sent me there because I was neither sociable nor physically dexterous, and they may have hoped that once out of their sight I would acquire characteristics that I never manifested at home. Unfortunately I didn’t undergo the desired maturation during my exile. I also didn’t relish being away from my home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, even though I hadn’t been exactly overwhelmed with friends while there. Each time my parents came to visit me at camp—­ which could only be accomplished by driving three and a half hours mostly westward and by crossing the Hudson River at Beacon with a ferry because no bridge had been built there yet—­ I would greet them with tears. I also demanded that they take me home immediately in the Pontiac they came with. They would not oblige until camp was over at the end of August. While at Camp Winston, which is what my place of confinement was named, I spent lots of time trying to master the various sports that were made available to us. Although I took up swimming decades later as an exercise, as a preadolescent in 1950 I had zero interest in this activity. For one thing, the lake water stayed cold most of the summer. To make matters worse, my head would go under each time I endeavored to do something called“the dead man’s float,”which we learned was the preliminary step to learning the Australian crawl. Since I didn’t care much for this first step,I had no reason to believe that what followed would be any more pleasant. The one camp activity that I truly enjoyed was arts and crafts. That was due to the person in charge, a kindly, middle-­ aged Jewish lady who belonged to something with the word “socialist” in it and who let us do pretty much what we wanted. Clay and wood abounded in the arts and crafts cabin, and as long as we seemed to be using them, our instructor assumed we were being creative. In this cabin, one could also pick up the latest news on campus, which often had to do with the families of the campers. One piece of news that still sticks in my mind concerned Jorge, a contemporary of mine in an adjacent bunk who spoke with a Spanish accent. During the summer Jorge was informed that his father, who headed some unidentified South American country, had been removed from a 144 A fterword key political position. Years later I figured out that this dignitary had been overthrown in a coup in a country in which such upheavals transpired with remarkable regularity. I trust that Jorge’s father suffered no worse fate than being ejected from his role as jefe for a day. The other camper who suffered anxious moments that summer was a red-­ haired, freckled fellow, who spent part of the summer in our bunk. His father had been born in Russia, and he agonized over a political figure named “McCarthy,” who had begun to rise to prominence in the United States. The only “McCarthy” I was then aware of was a ventriloquist dummy, and even then I doubted that this was the figure who had upset the father of the kid with the red hair. I later discovered that the father was a New York financier without any suspicious political connections. But since the United States was then embroiled in conflict with Stalin’s Russia, and since the junior senator from Wisconsin was denouncing Russian agents, Mr. Morgan, which was the name of the worried father, thought that he might be targeted. As far as I know, this never happened, and unlike me, the red-­ haired camper was sent back to Camp Winston the following year, at the astronomically high cost of nearly $1,000. This price...


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