1962

It was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and then of the Profumo affair, of Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler—the hot topic of conversation at the trucking company, largely because my fellow rate clerk happened to be an expatriate Brit. [Read more]

Mildred

It was a common name for girls among Norwegian immigrants. Rutgersen, Börresen, Dahl, Aarstad. And others. All produced Mildreds. The vogue lasted across at least two generations. No one names girls that any more, not since the War. [Read more]

Emigrants

Olav kept much to himself, and who can say whom he might have visited, living or dead, on his frequent, lone peripatetic jaunts around the city. Maybe he knew perfectly well where Josefine was buried, and what had happened to her husband. [Read more]

Tent meeting

The place is a vacant lot in Sunset Park, in Brooklyn. The year is 1939, the year I was born. I am not in the picture, nor are my parents, but I recognise most of the people, and indeed I remember some of these tent meetings, which continued through the 1940s. [Read more]

Butterfly

The dancers’ body paint ran under the hot lights and, afterwards, in the lobby, listening to working-class Italians from Bensonhurst, I first divined that a passion for an art form entails close critical attention and cold discriminations. These stern, brick-laying, bocce-playing critics thought Radames was not on form that night.— [Read more]

Brighteyes

I took to daydreaming during these monologues, which Walsh, or Welch, took as a personal offence, and she was not long in spinning her revenge. She called me Brighteyes, after a Viking tale of H. Rider Haggard. It was her conceit that I was Swedish, and therefore thick, and it amused her to address me in a macaronic Scandinavian sing-song. [Read more]