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About the Author

Lueza Thirkield Gelb was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, in the first part of the twentieth century, two years after the stock market crash, and grew up in the Adirondacks before and during the Second World War. A graduate of Wells College, she has a Ph.D. in History from Teachers College--Columbia University, and has taught at Pace University and Marymount-Manhattan College. She lives in New York City with her husband Bruce S. Gelb, former Director of the USIA and Ambassador to Belgium. The Gelbs have four children and six grandchildren.

Book Excerpt

At odd times when I had seen my brother through the years, I had tried to glean from him whatever memories he still carried with him. Although he seemed not to remember being with Mother in that northwest bedroom in our old farmhouse, he said he had been haunted by an overheard whispered conversation between our parents, after he was supposed to be asleep. He barely heard Mother's voice, but Daddy's whisper carried across the pitch-dark room into his crib.

"I'd like to go as far away as I can get and never come back," he heard Daddy say. Dwight said that because of those words, he felt afraid every time Daddy left for Albany or New York; he was never certain he would see him again, but he couldn't voice this fear.

We found we had a joint memory of Daddy in the passenger seat of the high old touring car, a favorite of Grandpa's for our far-ranging picnic excursions. The back seat and the floor were crammed with picnic hampers, buckets with ice in them, assorted thermoses--everything covered with white sheets to guard against dust and bright sunshine. Grandpa was driving and he expected E.B. to direct this lead vehicle in the caravan of family cars by knowing every obscure, unmarked country road, paved and unpaved. Dwight and I were still small enough to share Daddy's lap, one of us on each knee, and were thrilled to be at the front of the family outing.

Out of the blue, Daddy jumped to his feet, holding each of us clamped to his chest, as we met an unexpected car coming toward us at a remote four-way crossing.  "Hello, Texas!" he shouted at the other driver, who shifted gears heading in the opposite direction. Daddy turned quickly and stood us on the seat, facing backward while he waved his arms over his head at the startled driver disappearing in Adirondack dust.

"Now why in the Sam Hill would you do a darned fool thing like that, E.B.?" Grandpa sputtered. "You could've caused an accident jumping up so fast."

Daddy settled us back astride his knees. "I had to give a friendly wave to those folks from the Lone Star State," he said. "They were good to us."

Did our father perhaps want to run away from Schroon Lake and its household of women and problems, back to a place where something, who knows what, had called to him. Had he felt more at home in Texas? Was it the era of his life that he longed for? Or some opportunity he still felt he had lost or missed, maybe?

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by Lueza Thirkield Gelb
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