Seventy-one years ago today, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was upstairs in a rented house in Penn
, Yan I mention the village just because it has such a fine name.) A magazine was running an essay contest with a first prize of $50, twice what my father earned a week as a factory superintendent. So I was at my typewriter, a Royal portable that had no 'zero' or 'one' --you typed a capital 'O' or a lower-case letter ' l'. New York. (
I seem to be getting off topic pretty fast. Okay, what I remember is going over to the top of the stairs, a steep straight enclosed flight in the middle of what I just realized must have been a very old house. I can still see Daddy standing at the foot of the stairs, the radio is on, and he is looking up to shout that “The Japanese just bombed
I had no idea why he was telling me, what or where
At school on Monday, we all trooped over to the Junior High, a new (1930s) building that had an auditorium (our old Academy didn't have one.) A loudspeaker had been installed for President Roosevelt's address to Congress -- and the nation. My co-editor on the (mimeographed) school paper, the Penn Yan Key, challenged me to take down the speech. No fair, she was taking shorthand. But Roosevelt, a gifted orator, spoke with majestic deliberation, and I got it all:
I won the contest and the essay was my first published magazine article.