The Memory of Certain Persons

The Memory of Certain Persons

The Memory of Certain Persons

The Memory of Certain Persons

Excerpt

I was born on October 5, 1879, in a brownstone house at 108 East Forty-fifth Street. The house long ago made way for a succession of other buildings, last of all for the Grand Central Annex. The section of this large structure which stands immediately above my birthplace, has an importance to which I in a modest fashion still contribute. It contains the office of the Federal Tax Collector.

My arrival at 108 was expected, but not quite so soon, and Father--it was before telephones--hurried off in the night to wake the doctor. When I say hurried, I mean he urged the cabby to drive faster. When he got back, Mother and I were expressing our thanks to Mrs. O'Reilly, a neighborhood midwife. Nine or ten years later I was troubled to learn I had been helped into this world by a person without a medical degree.

Our household, when I joined it, consisted of my parents, my sister Anna Graham, known to me always as Sister, my senior by a year and ten months--and two aunts, Annabella and Margaret, whom Sister and I renamed Nanna and Memmem. Without these sisters of my mother in it, I cannot remember my father's home. Neither could he.

When I was three years old we moved to 6 West One Hundred Twenty- fourth Street, where on January 30, 1883, was born my second sister, Helen, whose great qualities, at first sight, I underestimated. The truth is, only two memories survive in me from this period, and both are self- centered.

On pleasant evenings in spring or early autumn I walked with Father and Mother to an establishment not unlike a farmhouse, with a yard around it. Entering the yard, which I still see clearly, if perhaps inac-

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