l'm So Tired Oh, Joseph,

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1 Oh, Joseph, l'm So Tired w H E N F R A N K L r N D. R o o s E v E L T was President-elect there rnust have been sculptors all over America who wanted a chance to model his head fromiife, but my mother had connections" One of her closest friends and neighbors, in the Greerrwich Village courtyard rvhere we lived, was an"amiable man named Howard Whitman who had recently lost his job as a reporter on the New York Posf' And one of Howarcl's former colleagues from the Posf was now employed in the press offfce of Roose'nllt's New York headquarters Tha! would *ut i, easy ior her to get in-or, as she said, to get an entr6e-and she " was confrdent she lould take it {rom there. She was confident about every,'thing she did in those days, but it never quite &sguised a territrle.r"!d foi t,tpport and approval on every side' She wasn't a very good t".tlptor' She had been working at it for only three years, since breaklng up her rnarriage to my-father' and there was itill something stiff and amateurish about her pieces. Before the Roosevelt project her specialty had been "garden figures"- a life-size little boy,ih*" legs turned into the legs of a goat at the knees and another who lneliamong ferns to play the pipes of Pan; little girls who trailed chains of daisies from their upraised arms or waft"f beside a spreacl-winged goose. These {'anciful childrerr, in plaster painted grjen to simulate weathered bronze' were arranged on ho*"*od",iood*n pedestals to loom around her studio and to leave a cleared space inihe middle for the modeling stand that held whatever she was working on in clay' Her idea was that any nurnber of rich people, all of thern gracious

2 F r,',\ / 'l'ltr. ( )rllr,r.ltri Slot.it,,s ttl.llit:lt4t.(i f.(ti.(:s i')(l.risr()crlrtic' w''rd 's00n discovor hc:r: tlrcy would wart s<:rr11l-. ture to,ec.rate their lantlscap"a gurj.rrr, a.d they would 'erwant lo rnake her their frien<r r.',, iir".'rn ti',] ln"unar,r", a littre nationwi<l<r pulrrrcity as the first-woman sculpto, r--' torrjo" "' u the Fresident-elect certainly woul<in't hurt her cflreer.. Arrd, if nothirrg else, she }ad a {ood stuclio. It was, in fact. ihe besr ot ali the st*dios she wourd h"r" f ;h;;;]iorn". hfe. There were six or eighr ord houses facing our,td;;i;;";ourtyarrj, with their backs to Bedford Street, * *_, f."-oinv the showplace of the row because the front room :ir: on its ground floor w.n r lown * b,.,nj," t, i ;.#,],nh: il",;;;; r *',::'_:'fl, T;: fro't door; trien vou were in the hijh, *J", rtgrr,-nooded studio. It was lrig.nruglr r. se.e as a riving so -;'-;;,';;d arong wirh the grcen garderr chirdrt'n it contained alr the lira,i*-r,,o- turniture from the horrse rve'd livecl in *ut, *y roit"; ;; il'rt;rrban rowrr of Llastings_ on-hudson, where I was_btrn. O,""."a-n.or balcony ra" ulorrg ti" fa'end of the studio,.with two,;i;;;;;ms trrcked ar.vay upstairs; beneath through to the Bedfo'ci street that might iet you know we,h;;,;h;;; and a tiny bathioom ground floor continued sijr i-tiir" part did"t h; ;;;;"tt of the aparrment.*",#;hliffill fi:li::::; underneath an iron sidlwak Sl"ir*,lid tru very lori anci it'*^ u-l-**y, dark in Ooa,o_ of that street cavity was t'lck with strewn g"".nugj o;ro""h-irrf"rteri kitchen was barely big enough for a stove and sink that w;re never crean, and for a :i''ffi n:yj:ifi,:::'::*";''"'-'"tii"gnto"t';r;;il";;'; ;W: il"m*:*;:*:!;* ;:il'#iffli,t,ut,oj*li;;;4, fbr riked,h" tlat fi,t,h;;:.ffi.we "il;;;;;, "",,'ii," H",,"g, "ra radi' was in rhere too,. and place my sister came u'u uay j::f ::_T".., c{f the radio-one day wnen when we went out into thet,l,:o studio ancl foun<j off,.t-.ll:..0r:""r:1",g the RooseveH pr"j""i wirh Howard wh lt*,. ii." n,.i,"u'f# or J:l.;;il:ff rt, and we musl have n* ll T:y;i^y:,.f i"*rr, 1:,** inte*upted her i""'-l_.;."edithp "'..'r'/ ::.:il'-" questions Decause she YucJtruxs because "EdithP --:.': li" i:,lt il ffi, said, Bi'vp Billl'P Th"+t That's en "n"" now. I.ll tellyou all about af,,, f"r". crrt irr the o*.j: o^rr.,^^^,.,,h: garden ancl play"i-:uqh, She always th" ", re except a "rlled {'ew si,,.rojfl::i garde'"'though nothinggrew -"","*.;""* had :fi ;;;"',T a chance lt:::"nd to spread. u.,ji,,** " r;"itiei#1ffi-"1"7,ffij"ii1,:,ffi::.jff::"j Ah, fuse,ph, I'm So Tired / t7<1 there by brick paving, rightly powdered with soot and scattered with the droppings of dogs and."u*. rt may have been six ;rd,;;r", long, but it was only two houses *id", *hi"h "; gave cheerless lnok; it a hernmed_in, its only point of irrterest was a dilapidated marble fountain, not much bigglr than a birdbath, which stood near olrr house' The original idea of the fountain was that water wo'ld drip evenly from around the rim of its upper tier and tinkle into its lovr.,er basin, but age had unsettled it; th" rvater spilled in a single ropy stream {rom the onlyinch of the upper tier,jrirn that staye? clean. The lower basin was deep enough to'ro"k your feet in on a hot day, but there wasn't mrrch pleasureln that because the underwate, part of the marble was coatecl with lirown scum" N{y sister and I fbund things to do in the courtyard every day, firr all of the two years we rived iirere, but that was o'ly because Edith was an imaginative chird' she was etreven at the time L{'tt Roou"rr"rt project, and I was seven" " "DaddyP" she asked in our fatherrs offrce uptov,in one a{iernoon. "Have you heard Mommy,s doing a heacl of preiident Rooseveltp,, "'OhP" He was rummaging said we might iike. inlis desk, looking f". ro,rr*it ing t ",a going to take his measurements and stuff here,lshe's lbrk," Edith said, "and then after the Ina*guration, in New when the scurp*r:3 {:1", shet going tg takeit to Washiniton and present it to hi'rn in the White House." Edith often told one of ot, plrents other's rnore virtuous activities; it was "b"* il" part of her long, rrrp"r"", O*U together" Manyyea^rs later she totj',r,"'rf," "ic" inod, sne had never recovered, and never would, from the shock of th?i, breakup: she said llastings-on-hudson rernained the happiest rror" her life, and that made me envious because "f I could,"*".1y ::lt.l"_t,"*"rn_ ber it at all. -Well," my..that's said. ^ what he'dfather found been looking really something, isn,t it.,,,ihen he for in the desk and salld...here wn oo. what dn you think of thesep"they were two fiagilef;;f.;; ;":;; of what loo\e{ like postage. stumpr, starnp b"earilg *r","rrg"r".f an electrdc lightbulb in r.,ivid w.hite "a"h against yeito* fri"f.g-"rr?f, " the words "More light." "nu My father's office was o-ne rnany small cubicles on the twenfz9f third floor of the General Erectric iuirding. He was an assista't in what was then th" OO"ra_ i_,_f regional sales rnanager "ill".t

3 t 8o / T'he Collected Stories of Richard yates.l)ivision-a modest job, b't good enough to have allowed him to re't into a town like Hastings-on-Hudson in better times-and theser "More light" stamps were souvenirs of a recent sales convention. Wr: toid him the stamps were neat-and they were-but expressed som. doubt as to what we might do with them. "Oh, they re just for decoration," he said. '.I thought you could paste them into I'our schoolbooks, or---vou know-whatever you want- Ready to go?" Ancl he carefully folded the sheets of stamps and put them in his inside pocket for safekeeping on the way home. Between the subway exit and the courlyard, somewhere in the West Village, we always walked past a vacant lot where men stood huddled around weak fires built of broken fmit crates and trash, some of them warming tin cans of food held by coat-hanger wire over the flames. "Don't stare," my father had said the first time..all those men are out of work, and theyi.e hr.rngrv." "Daddy?" Edith inquired. "Do you think Roosevelt'.s goodp" )ure L do. "Do you think all the Democrats are good?,, "Well, most of 'em, sure." Much later I wrruld learn that mv father had participated in rocal Democratic Party politics for years. He had served sorne of his poiitical friends*-men my mother described as d'ead{irl little Irish people from Tammany Hall-by helping them to establish Mazclatamp jistributorships in various parts of the city. And he loved their social gatherings. at which he was always askeri to sing. -Weli, of course, you're too young to renrernber Daddy,s singing,,, Edith said to rne once after his death in rg4z. "No, I'm not; I remember." "But I mean reallv rernember," she said. "He had the most beauti_ ful tenor voice I've ever heard. R.emember'Danny Boy,?', JUTC. "Ah, God, that was something," she said, closing her eyes...that was really'-that wls really sornething." When we got back to the courfvard that afternoon, and back into the studio, Edith and I watched our parents sa1'hello to each other. we always watched that closely, hoping they rnight drift into conversa* tion and-sit down together and find things to laugh about, but they never did. And it was even less likely than usual that day becar-rse my Oh, Joseph, I'm So Tired, / t9t mother had a guest-a woman named Sloane Cabot who was her best friend in the coursard, and who greeted my father with a little rush of false, flirtatious enthusiasm. "Horv've you been, Sloane?" he said. Then he turned back to his forrner wife and said, "Helen? I hear you"re planning to make a" bust of Roosevelt." "Weli, not a bust," she said. "A head. I think it'll be more effbctive if tr cut it off at the neck." "Well, good. Thatls fine. Good luck with it' Okay, then."' He gave his whole attention to Edith and me. "'Okay. See you soon. How about a hug?" And ttrose hugs of his. the clirnax of his visitation rights, were unforgettable. (Jne at a time rve woilld be swept up and pressed hard into tlie srnells of linen and whiskey and totracco; the warm rasp of his 1'au, rvould gr^ze one cheek and there would be a quick moist kiss near the ear; then he'd let us go. I{e was almost all the way orlt of the cour}'ard, almost out in the street, when Edith ;rnd I went racing after him. -Dadd;'! Daddyi You {'orgot the stamps!" He stopped and turned around, and that'wa.s when we saw he was cqnng. FIe tried to hide it--he put his far:e nearlv into his armpit as if tliat might help him search his inside pocket-but there is no wav to disguise the awful bloat and prucker of a face in tears. "Here," he said. "Here you go." And he gave us th-e least convincing smile I had ever seen. It would be good to report that we stayed and talked to him-that we hugged hinr again-but we were too embarrassed {'or that. We teiok the starnps and ran horne without looking back. "Oh, aren't you excited, Helen?" Sloane Cabot was saving' "To be nieeting him, and taiking to him and every,thing, in front of all those reporters?" "Well, of course," my mother said, "trut the important thing is to get the measurements right. I itope there won't be a lot of photographers and siily interruptions." Sioane Cahot vi'as some years younger than rny rnother, and strikingly pretty in a style often portray'ed in what I think are called Art Deco illustrations of that period: straight dark bangs, big eyes, and a trig rnouth. She too was a divorced mother, though her former ffi

4 r,\: / 'l'lrr OolLcoted Stories of Richardyates lrrrslrrrrtl lrad vanished rong ago and was ref'erre. to onry as..that bas_ trrrrl",r "that cowardly ro" ola bitch." Her only chiliwas u boy ol l{diths age named John, whom Edith and f liked enorm";il- "" The two women had met within days of our moving into the court_ yard, and their friendship was,"ul"j when my mother solved the problem of John's schooling. she knew a Hastings-on-Hudson *u, who would appreciate the ironey earned from taking in a boarder, so John went up there to live and go to school, and came home onlv on weekends. The a*angement cost more than S;";;;; afford, but she managed to rnake,n""t and "._i#", was "rrd, f.*"", gr*i"frf. sloane worked in the wall street district as a private secretarv. she talked a lot about how she hated her lob aoj #;;;;;, b",".ti"'n*o part was that her boss was often out ofio*n fo, e*tended 0"n"d".,-rrr", gave her time to use the offfce tlpewriter in pursuit of her rife,s ambition, which was to write scripts io. th","&o. She once confided to my mother that she,d made up boih of her names: "Sloane', because it sounded masculine, tt e kina of,ru*" u yt* alone might need for making her way in "cabot" the world, and fsssu5s-wsll, because rt rr"i touch of crass. ^ was anything there wrong with thatp "Oh, Helen," she said...this is going to be wonderful for yo".,g:t you. If the publicity-if the paperl pi"i it up, and the newsreels_ you'll be one of the most interesing plrsonalities in America.,, Five or six people were gatheijd in the studio on the day mother nry came home from her lrst visit with the president_elect. "Wiil.somebody get me a drink?,, she asked, loolcng arc,,rrrd mock l' helplessness...then I'll tell you all about it.,, And with the drink in her hand,'with her eyes as wide as a child,s, she told us how a door had o.feled two 1nd big;en had "Big brought him in. men," she insisted. -young, stl"ong men, holjlng him up :ld:,t.*h"" arms, and you corrld,"" hi* tn.fl""r" srraining. Then vou saw rhlsjoot come out, with thesc aw4ur meta[ braces on th"e,r,o", lna then the other foot. And he *ur r*"utlrg, ^rd h" *", p";il;;;; breath, and his face was_i don't know_ult'brrgir, an'tense and hor_ rible," She shuddered. 'Well," Howard Whitman said, loolcing uneasy,..he cant lielp being crippled, Helen.', "Howard," she said impatiently,..i.m only trying to tell you how ugly it was"' And that seeried to iarry u ""lilt weight. If she was an E Oh,Jost'1ilr'''"r''ir''/'''/ r''r t authority on beauty-on how a little boy might Lttt'''l ;llrttrrrl' I' r rr i" nlav the pipes of Pan, for example-then surely slrc lrrrtl ('irrlr rl l* r i.ed.ntials'as an authority on ugliness' "Anyway," rtt" *""t-j"' "thjy got him into a chair' and lrt' rvi1" 'l most of the,*"ut off hi' i^"" *tln1handkerchief-he was still orrt "l breath_and after a *t rl" rr" started talking to some of the other '*rrr there; I couldn't f"ucl* ift"t part of,it' Then ffnallv he turned to mtr with this smile of his' Honestly' I don't.know if i can describe that smile. It isn't somethi";;;; ";; see in the newsreels; you have to be il;;;. Htt "y"s don't "#l*" at all' but the corners of his mouth go up as if they're b"irrg p"u"jf']' f"pp"t strings' Its a frightening smile' It makes you think: this could b" u iu"g"tous man' This could be an evil man. Well anyway, *" ti"""a dh{, and I spoke right up to him' I said, 'I didn't vote {b' y;;, il' Presiient" I said' 'I'm a good Republi can and I voted to' 1'"'id""t Hoover'' He said' 'Why are you here' il;j;. something like that' and I said' 'Because you hale.-1-ley interesting head.' So ;;;"t; -" smile,again and he"said' 'What's -tl: i;;;,"jg about it?'anilald''i like the bumps on it.'" By then she must have assumed that everv reporter in the room was writing in his notjoot' *t"t" the photograpfr"" got their flashbulbs ready; tomorrods papers might easily read: Ger- Scul-P:ron Twrrs FDR Asour "BuuPs" on Haen At the end of her preliminary chat with him she got down to business, which was to L"*r,rr" different parts of his head with her calipers. I knew how that felt' the cold' trembling points of those clayencrusted calipers f'jti"kl"d and poked-me all over during the times i'jt"-"a as model for her fey little woodland bovs' But not a single gl'i'u"fu i""nt off while she took and recorded the measurement,, u"a t'ot'ody asked her any ouestions; after a few nervous words of thanks and goodbye she was out in the corriclor again -t"""glfine hopeless, c'i"i"g'p"ople who ccruldn't get in' It must have been a bad disappointmen't' ani I imagine she tried to make rrp way she'd"teil us about it when she for it by planning t#il;j;;t got home' r ^ra^- *^"+ nf rhe nther. ' "Helen?" Howard Whitman inquired' after most of the other visitors had gort". "Wtty tl you tell him you didn't vote for him?" i :l *: %

5 tb4 / ll,he CoLlected Stories of nichard. yates Oh,losePh, I'm "Well, because itls true. I am a goodrepublican; you know that.,, she was a storekeepe.r's daught"er;;; smafi town in ohio; she had protrably groy.,rp h"*i,rg".il;;;:" "..good Repubtican,, as an index of respectabirity urrd maybe she had come to "l"ui "rotti"*lcrrd relax her standards cirespectabilitll,;;;" she didnt even care much about clean clothes afryn9re, but.goojrepublican,, rv"rrv"r_f, ing to. Ir would be helpful when "irg* shjnret tl li".:',,hi;;;il*io,"r"o"",*"";t,:jjtffi Y#;*:'i";l trr.s and who woutd atrnos, ;::r":t'j "**niy r"r_"i _ t " fr"n"n_ '"I berieve in the aristocracyr" she often cried, trying to make herself heard above the rumble of voices *h"n h", guests were dis_ cussing Communism, and the.y seldom paid her,h"y iiked her well.1n1ugh,,h" gu* p""i",,[ar, plenty"d;;;;;;. of llquor, and s]re was an agreeable hostess only 6""*rrru -_", of her touchr"f:.."g"*i,,. if please; but in anv ralk_ of poti'ti",,h" f,f." a shrill, exisperating chikl. She beiieved in the #stoc.acy. She believed in God too, or at ljast in the ceremony of St. Luke,s Episcopal Church, which she attendei twice a year. And she believed in Eric Nicholson, ", th" middle_aged Englishman h;;;; ;;;; who was her lover. H"e haf so1*frrry a of a British chain of foundries: t i, jnto i. with the American end "' from whom he'd never really been &vorced" to the time between But all that came later; I u'ant io go back his Inauguration'-when his head Franklin D. Roosevelt's election and *"r for n.on*it"j;";r" ::::3:ri**ting about hi, b,rri,,"rr, rr". *iay Tudor_stvle He was and glowing arways *ith it, My mother had met him the year before,,when she,d sought help one. of her 11oiu'r* consignment" garden with,.:: fig;; to be.ptaced on "J;;oiror,"*, g,"-;d:n_sculpture gallery from which would never be sold. Eric \icholsor. iua p*rr,'ud"d it her that leacl would be almost as nice as bronze _*f, ifreaper; then he,d asked her out to dinner, and that ""J *""r.g;h""g;o',r.liu*r. Mr. Nicholson rarery spoke-a iy,trr!r oj*", urra I think we were both frightened of hirn, iut he ;;;;; us with gifts. At ffrst they were mostly books_a volurne uf f.ram punch.a partial set of l)ickens, a book calred "u.tnor* Engtani-in"*oo, Times containing tissue-covered color plates that fjitt tit"a. But in the summer of "olt'td knownhowtofish,awickercreelforcarryingthefishshewouldnever at her waist' He gave ;;h, ;"i a sheathed hunting knife to beworn a in leather holster and me a short ax whose-ft"ud'*"' encased *'he firewo^od to cook ;;'*pd;" my belt-i g''es' thi' wus forcutting hung from an net with a handle that :1T1" fish-and u "rr*b",'o*? upon to wade in and help called be i in strap, shoulder "u," 't'oua to do in that New ersey E'iitn Urra u tri"t y one' There was nothing and *uilt', ot *l'ut *y *otf,"' called good hikes; ;l;;;;;4,,*r." in weeds the insect-humming e;verv dav, u, *" ptoaj"i out through equipment' ;. th",nrr, *" *or" o", full regalia of useless me a three-year stebscripgave That same summer Mr. tli"holson magazine was impenetrable that tion to Fietd' 4z Stroam, and I think in th^e mail cgm]ng it kept krecause the least appropriate oi"tt tto gifts for us: changed had for such a long, lo"g ti*" af# everything-else Nicholson Mr' to Scarud^I"' wh*r" after we'd. moved o,'t J X"* York and after he had abandoned my rent' had found a house *iitt " low motherinthathouse-withnowarning-toreturntcrenglandandto,"*1o", homes in places like scarsdar" una the things Eric Nichoison's ffrm h"j;.;prished. rtts weeks with orrr alt" onze / *to rg33, when our father arranged for us :8.""d Mr' Nicholson's gifts becamtr n rnother at a small lake in N"it ;"tt"y' a steel fishing rod with a cornucopia of sporting good' fi" g^*.naith have figured it orrt even if we'd reel so intricate that nj;;f "o'rnorr. r",l ;;"" jffi,j:r.fl",,t:.i ings all over""d "jllj"t:t, the East, the""0# t""a."r"*"rri.*ndo*o br So'l\rul *f" t*u",! rf.rul}l taking shape on my mother's m3{etil8 -^- el^lrrethan rir or larger life-size' it make Her ilutt had been to "igin*l to scale it dovrm for economv in the size, but lvlr. Ni"hol'on t"g"d h"' high' He per;;;g, and so she *ad"'-it only six or seven inches her' that lead krown her too, fot tt'"-'"oottl ti*" since he'd suaded would be almost as nice as bronze' watched cli<ln't mind at all if Edith and I She had always 'n" 'uia to; now it was a little more h". *ork, but we had never much wanted her sift through m-any plointeresting because we coukl watch one that ;;;*t* 3f Rou,"u"lt cut from ne vspapers 'ntil she found execute a subtle plane of cheek or brow' Cabot might o{ our a"y *u' taken up with school' }ohn *J"fa help her But most which Edith would always go to school m fro,tiig'-on-llttdsoi',for was the next best thing: yearn, but we had *hui"u"" Eclith admittecl *" went to school in our bedroom'

6 fi6 / The Collected Stories of Richardyates During the previo,s year my mother had enrolled *s in the pubric school down the street, but she"d beg*n to regret it r.n'hen we camc) hor'e with lice in our Lrair. Then one day Edith came home accused ol' having stolen a bov's coat, and that was too much. she withdrew us both, in deffance of the city truant officer, and pleaded with my father to help her meet the cost of a private school. He reiused. The ient she paid and the bills she ran up were already taxing him far beyoncl the terms of the divorce agreernent; he was in debt; surely she must realize he was lucky even to have a job. would she ever learn to be reasonable? It was Howard Whitman who broke the deadlock. He knew of an inexpensive, fully accredited urail-order service calred T'he calvert school, intended r,ainlv for the homes of chiklren who were invalids" The calvert sch'ol furnished weekly supplies of books a'd materials and study pla^s; all she worild need was someone in the house t' administer tlie program ancl to serve as a tutor. And someone like Bart Karnpen would be ideal for the job" "The skinny fellowp" she asked. "The Jewish boy frorn Holland or wherever it is?" "F{e's very well educated, Helen," Howard told her...ancl he speaks fluent English, ancl he'd be very conscientious. Ancl he c.uld certainly use the money." we were delighted to learn that Rart Kampen rvould be our t'tor. witli the exception of Flowarcl himself, Bart 'r,as probably our favorjter among the adults around the courtyard. He was hventl,-eight or so, young enough so that his ears couid still turn red when he was teased by children; we had fo*nd that out in teasing him o'ce or fivice about such rnatters as that his socks didn't match. He was tall and very thin and seemed always to look startled except when he *u, "o.nib.t"d enough to smile. He was a violinist, a Dutch Jew who hati. emigratecl tlre year befcrre in the hope of joining a symphony orchestrl and eventually of larinching a concert career. But the symphonies werent hiring then, nor were lesser orchestras, so Bart had gone without work for a long time. He lived aione in a roorn on seventh Ave'ue, not far frorn the courtvard, and people who liked him used tcl worry that he might not have enorlgh to eat. He owned two suits, both cut i' a wav that must have been stylish in the Netherlands at the time: stiff, heavily padded shoulders and a nipped-in waist; they would probably Oh, loseph, (m So Ti'recl / fi7 have looked better on someone with a little rnore meat on his bones. ln shirtsleeves, with the cuffs rolied track, his hairy wrists and forearms looked even more fragile than you might have expected, but his long hands were shapely and strong enough to suggest authority on the violin. "I'll leave it entirely up to you, Bart," my mother said when he asked if she had any instructions for our tutoring. "l know yorr'll do wonders with thern," A smail table was moved into our bedroom, under the window, and three chairs placed around it, Bart sat in the middle so that he colld divide his time equally between Edith and me' tsig, clean, heavy trrorm envelopes arrived in the mail from The Calvert School once a week, and when Bart slid their fascinating contents onto the table it was like settling down to begin a game. Edith was in the fifth grade that year-her part of the table was given over to incomprehensible talk about English and History and Social Studies-and I was in the first. I spent my mornings asking Rart to help me puzzle out the very openirrg moves of an education. "Take your time, Billy," he would say. "Don't get impatient with this. Once yor,r have it you'll see how easy it is. and then you'll be ready for the next thing." At eleven each rnorning we would take a break. We'rl go downstairs and out to the part of the corirtyard that had a little grass. Bart would carefuily lay his folded coat on the sidelines, turn back his shirt cuffs, and present hirnself as ready to give what he called ailplane rides. Thking us one at a time, he would grasp one wrist and one ankle; then he'd whlrl us off our feet and around and around, with himself as the pivot, until the courlyard and the buildings and the city and the world were lost in the dizzyngblur of our flight.,r\.fter the airplane rides'we would hurry down the steps into the studio, where u'e'd usually ffnd that my mother had set out a tray bearing three tall glasses of cold C)valtine, sornetirnes with cookies on the side and sometirnes not. I once overheard her telling Sloane Cabot she thought the Ovaltine must be Bart'.s first nourishment of the day-and I think she was probably right, if only because of the way his hand woulcl tremble in reaching for his glass' Sometimes she'd fcrget to prepare the tray and we'd cror,vd into the kitchen and fix it

7 tbb / The Collected Stories of Richardyates ourselves; I can never see a jar of ovaltine on a grocery shelf without remembering those times. Then it was back upstairs to sch.ol again. And during that year, by coaxing and prodding and telling -",.Jt to get impatient, Bart Kampen taught me to read. It was an excellent opportunity for showing off. I wourd pull books down from my mothert shelves-mostly books that rvere tire gifts of Mr. Nich'lson-and try to impress her by reading mangled,"rrt"r"", aloud. "That's wonderful, dear," she would say...yo''ve really learned to read, haven't you." Soon a white-and-yellow "More light" stamp was afffxed to every page of my Calvert First Grade Re"Ier, proving I had masiered it, and others were accumulating at a slower rate in my arithmetic w,orkbook. still other stamps were fastened to the wan ieside my place at the school table, arranged in a proud little white-and-yeu# tn.r*t - smudged column that rose as high as I could reach. "You shouldn't have put your stamps on the wall,', Eclith said. 'WhyP' "Well, because they'll be hard to take off.,' "Who's going to take them nff?" That small room of ours" with its double function of sleep and learning, stands more clearly in my mernor)/ than any other part lf our home. someone shorrld probably have told my mother thaia girl and boy ofour ages ought t'have separate rooms, but that never oj",rrr"d to me until much later. our cots were set foot-io-foot agai*st the wall, leavingjust enough space to pass alongside them to thl school table, and we had some good conversations as we lay waiting for sleep at night. The one I remember best was the time Edith told me abouithe sound of the city _ "I dont mean just the loud noises," she said,..like the siren going by just now, or those car doors slamming, or all the laughlng' and shouting down the street; thatt just close-up stuff. I'rn tallang "about something else. Because you see there are millions and mill-ions of people in New York-more peiiple than you can possibl;, imagine, sysl-anfl most of them are doing something that makes sound. Maybe talking, or playing the radio, maybe closing doors, maybe putting their forks down on their plates if theyre ha"ing dirr.rer, o, dropping their shoes if they're going to bed-and becarrje there are so many of them, all those little sounds add up and come together in a ''#% ()[../r'rr'1[ frl h" llreri I tl{ kindofhum.butitssofaint-soveryverylirirrtllrltlt.rlttttt lllttqt it r.rrrl"rs you listen very carefr'illy for a long time '" "Can You hear it?" I asked her' "Somltimes. I listen every night' but I can only hear il sotttelllltrr Other tirnes I fall asleep' i'"it n" quiet now' and just listen' Sitrc ll'vort **Tlhlitil;ru, rnv eves as if that would help' opening r'v rnouth to minimize tft" ""r,"* of my breathing' but in the end I had to 'o"l"a i"tt tt". I'd failed. "How about vou?" I asked' ;just 'Oh, i heard it,",t'" for a-few seconds' but I heard it' '"ia' You'll hear it too, if you tt""p t'to"g' And it's worth waiting for' When vou hear it. vou're hearing tile whole city of New York"' week was l''iduv afternoon' when John \ffi;di;;;;.; Cabot came home fiom Hastings' He exuiled health and normality; fr" l.."gtt, fresh suburban air inio our bohemian lives' He even transformed his mother's small apartment' while he was there' into an enviable place o{ rest between vigorous encounters wiih the world' He subscribed to both B;oys' L ild' Open Road for Boys' a1d the-se seemed to me to U" *o"aj'f"t il'i"g' to have ln your house' tl:tl l:t tfr" ittnr,rutions. john dressed in the same heroic way as tne Do)/s shown in those *ugu"t""', corduroy knickers with ribbed stockings.,,lled taut over his rnuscular ""Il'e'" He talked a lot about the Hasti"""'l"tf-t-t"ftool football team' for which he planned to try out as soon ;.ti:ffi;;iil;,4r, ;;J about Hastings iriends whose names and p"rrt^^in*, gruw il'nost as farniliar to us as if they were friends of 'o.r, "*o. He"taught us invigorating ney ways to speak' like tuf"g *What's the diff?" i,,,tlj oi?wttut's"the dfference?" And he was better even than Edith at finding new things to do in the courtyard' You could U.ry goijn'n fl' te" o' "fift*"" cents apiece in Woolworth's then, and o"" tluy we brought home three of them to keep in the fountain. We sprinkled the waier with rnore Wookvorth's granulated ffsh food than th"y "o"ld possibly need' and we narned them after ourselv"r' "Jottoi "Udith,- and 'Billy'- For a week or two Edith and I would run to the fountain every morning' bef9rg Bart came for school, to make,"'" ift"u **re still alive a"d to 'e" if they had enough food, and to watch them' "Have you noticj how much blgger niul;,9i11ingl-."iil,:i"' me. "He's h.rg". U"t ui*ost as big uiion" and Edith now' He'lI probably be bigger than hoth of thern"'

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