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October 11, 2013

Getting some of the earliest stuff out of the way

I was born on the 26th of July, 1948 at Henrotin Hospital in Chicago to a psychiatrist from an orthodox Ukrainian Jewish and very musically talented family, and a beautiful country girl from the wilds of New Jersey whose ancestry included Irish, Prussian, Russian and Spanish.

The story goes that my aunt was an entertainer in Chicago and my father had a crush on her. When her little sister came to town to visit, my aunt tried to dump my father by pointing him at my mother. IIRC within a couple of months they were married.

There was, of course a tremendous uproar, but my father was good at arguing and managed to persuade the rabbis that all was in accordance with talmudic law, it being wartime and there being a easement allowing one to marry one of "the enemy".

In addition to appeasing the rabbis, my mother did her best to be friendly with my father's family. At one point, she says, she invited my grandmother Fanny to lunch at a department store restaurant (Marshall Fields' I think) and, blissfully unaware of the rules, ordered herself a ham and cheese sandwich. I am sure that she will be correcting details of this.

My mother says that when I was born, Fanny sat on the side of my mother's hospital bed visibly and pointedly counting how many months it had been since the marriage, and doubtless disappointed that the math worked out in my mother's favor.

Shortly thereafter my father got a job at Manteno State Hospital in Illinois where I spent the first few years of my life being tended by patients.

My first available memory is of a large room and a large central table with adults sitting around it. I have no idea where or when this was. I remember that I was in a red, pedal-driven firetruck with a missing ladder. I also remember that I couldn't make the pedals work properly so I was pushing it along with my feet. I remember circumnavigating the table without anyone paying attention and exiting.