Archive for September, 2009

I went to Thomas Nelson Page Junior High School in the same old limestone buildings that mother had gone to the German-English School in the 90s. My chief remembrances of it are sitting in the far corner of the miserable grounds exchanging dirty – mostly scatological – stories with other pubescent boys and tearing open my hand on a broken drain-pipe. Whatever I might have learned in class must be stored in some part of the brain that is not accessible to me as I concentrate on my personal history.

We were to move to a newly built school for the last semester of our senior year and I recall asking to see the drawings of what it was to be like and this was met with a pleasant, somewhat surprised response for I was apparently the only student with such curiosity. I had a vague desire to be an architect. In grammar school there had been an assignment to “plan” a house, using pictures cut out of magazines. I liked doing it and I think it evoked a secret desire to be an architect. As a child I liked to drive through neighborhoods to look at new domestic styles. Among the many talents that I lack, along with limited math skill is drawing; I feel that I wanted to make houses what we now call more “user friendly,” that is, more sensitive to social uses. Whenever I passed the architecture school at Austin, I wistfully reflected on that old ambition, yet realized that for me it was a road well not taken.

A signal failure capped this last semester in the old stone school. For reasons unknown, I had been chosen to give the farewell speech to the departing class at the banquet at the Mexican restaurant. When I got up to give it, none of the words that I had so carefully memorized found their way to my tongue, reminiscent of those embarrassing silences when I was supposed to recite a poem on Christmas Eve. Finally I sat down, vowing never to memorize a speech again and now I wonder that I had the temerity to enter a profession that demands public performance. I kept that vow; fortunately extempore works for me.

I was also named editor of the school paper. When I announced this at home with some pride, Buntz laughed at the idea with a “what, you?” sort of comment, to which Thea responded with a more accepting, “Well, why not?”  When school started in our new building, mother had been given a permanent appointment as a teacher there (where she spent the rest of her working life) and was assigned to supervise the paper. She and I put the little mimeographed paper together each month, but I think that it was a mistake for us to have confounded her roles as teacher and mother. At any rate, I did a lousy job that falsely presaged the future, for as you will see, I take pride in my capability as editor.

Allowances were unheard of; we didn’t even get paid for the fairly onerous chores like mowing the extensive lawn with the old hand mower and other yard work; it was simply expected. Whether this policy was based on moral or on economic grounds, I can’t say. We never even heard about the tooth fairy, who also never visited my children. We appreciated our big yard for games there, but the chores were hard and time-consuming. I used to dream up labor-saving devices (many of which have since come into being) and fantasized becoming an inventor. I think I have the imagination to be one, but the talents appropriate for engineering were not in my repertoire and this dream ultimately faded into the more generic desire to be creative – the beginning of the urge to become a scholar, a “scientist” of some kind.

There was one recurrent chore that I did feel obliged to perform. As happens in yard-side ball games, balls often find a window, so I learned at an early age to replace the glass. When Tex and I visited San Antonio about ten years ago, I looked to see if the poorly troweled putty was still there and pleased to feel it. But now I wonder that, as a teenager or younger, I was permitted to bicycle the mile to the local glaziers and back with a pane, naked save for a sheet of newspaper tied around it, under my arm. As I survived without incident, I am glad that mother had such a relaxed attitude, for I think it is a healthy one — but I couldn’t muster it when I became a parent. Of course, the traffic was lighter and slower in the twenties; still, they were not the horse and buggy days.

Dad’s middle-class German background rendered him totally unsuited to any household task beyond replacing a light bulb and couldn’t teach us anything practical. Taking high school “shop” was infra-dig for us college-bound snobs, so Buntz and I learned to do things on our own and I benefited from his pioneering efforts. Both of us have taken pride throughout our lives in our amateurish efforts to fix things around the house and my yard is now a showcase of the crooked concrete steps and brick walls as proof of my having passed that way, like my early glazing accomplishments.

This vague if-it-can-be-done-I-can-do-it attitude is a kind of watered-down version of Yankee ingenuity that has been so important to the American ethos. I think the Model T Ford did a lot to carry this essentially rural virtue into early urban life, for many of my generation of town boys took one apart and rebuilt it. I remember that Buntz helped on one that older boys were putting together in our spacious yard, but I was too young to do more than hand them tools. Three Fifteen Adams Street was a social entity that we all felt keenly and others sensed. It was an informal gathering place for our friends. Other kids would come over just to hang out – mother often among us, as she had rapport with children because she liked them.

We were expected to earn our spending money but never had to share it, as with real poverty. Thea became a page at the Carnegie Library while in high school and Tex followed suit. He turned over to me the Saturday Evening Post route he had established at some effort. I am not sure I appreciated this generosity, for it was a task that I hated and it gave Thursday a bad name in my horoscope. Its one virtue was that I learned early in life that I wanted no part in being a salesman. Every Thursday after school I picked up my load of magazines and bicycled around the city to sell them for 5¢ each. Of this, I kept 1¼¢. I netted less than fifty cents a week. I never tried to build up the route because I was too shy to ask people to buy things. On days when the magazines were thin and the weather good, it was a relatively small chore, but it gets hot, cold and rainy even in sunny San Antonio, and as Christmas ads build up the load really got heavy.

I took this as the burden of childhood, but in retrospect it seems a dangerous and uneconomic activity. I am sure that it was chock-a-block full of moral fiber, but it has left emotional scars. The one I am sure of is a strange and irrational penuriousness. It is not that I “learned the value of money,” however, for it grabs me on the little things. I still hate to use stamps and acquired an electric razor early because razor blades chafed my skin, for I always thought I should get another use out of the one I was using. And I still find it difficult to buy myself small treats, though I try, with some difficulty, not to be quite so stingy with others. After some years I had a paper route, which I found more “dignified” but not much more to my taste.

Mother didn’t have her heart in housework, but could get enthusiastic about cooking. Yet when at college, I’d tease that if I was hungry for home-cooked food I went to the delicatessen. She liked to read and was lost in Moby Dick and Magic Mountain for a long time. We had the humor magazines, Life and Judge, and the early Vanity Fair and were early subscribers to the New Yorker – to which I credit such writing skills as I have, for I have taken it throughout my adult life.

There was a time when she would read to the three of us, but it was when I was far too young to follow the fare she chose. They reflected her interests and were barely appropriate to the age of the others. She seemed to go in for social dissidents rather than utopians or radicals: Mencken, Thomas Paine, Holmes’ Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Upton Sinclair, and Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. I have only a vague memory of this, brought out by some comments from Tex several years ago, though I think some of Veblen stuck, for it seemed familiar when I picked it up and from time to time I have an eerie déjà vu feeling that some of the others got into my implicit memory as well.


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After a miscarriage and two not very robust children, I was a healthy and quite presentable baby and this must have given mother a lot of satisfaction.  Mother was a very hands-on parent, and she would lie about on a couch or bed and schmooze with all or one of us. Often in these sessions she would say silly things, such as “You are so pretty people should throw quarters at you,” or “someday you are going to marry Hattie Heintz,” or “I’m going to save you for seed.” (Tex said that this last was demeaning and should not have been said, though he has himself often said that “children are like waffles, the first should be thrown away,” even in his son’s presence.) I was embarrassed and dismissive of these verbal blandishments, which is not to say that I didn’t find comfort in them. They probably bolstered my ego but they didn’t fit my self image. I have always thought of myself as “all right looking,” rather than with a more elegant adjective, but was neither vain about nor worried over my looks – then or later.

The family came back from Fredericksburg poor and papa was without work. His first job I know about was as accountant for a small retail firm, which he left when he learned that he had been hired merely to keep watch on the incumbent accountant, a role that he found obnoxious and demeaning. My earliest memory of him was one afternoon when I went on my tricycle to meet him at the South Alamo streetcar stop. He was pleased to see me, but his depression was so deep that even as a six-year-old, I was affected by it. He did not usually show his unhappiness, though it underlay his major domestic behavior – outbursts of violent anger, usually taken out on mother, often on Tex and rarely on Thea or me.
Soon papa got a job selling calendars and other “advertising novelties,” things merchants bought as advertisements or to give to valued clients for goodwill.  It was a hard and demeaning task that took a lot out of a not very robust body and God knows what from his soul. It was certainly beneath his talents and reasonable aspirations, but he carried it with dignity and without any complaint that reached my ears. Being treated with disdain by rural Texas rednecks, it is not surprising that he would often leave a client muttering, “verdammte Schweinehund!” The ads for Miller’s Death of a Salesman that ran for years in The New Yorker, showing Willy Loman carrying his sample cases, always evoked tears in belated sympathy.

My earliest and most influential memories of Buntz are of his relentless teasing, a demeaning reinforcement of my babyhood, of calling me babyface, pie-faced and a crybaby. This last was ultimately true, for he didn’t let up until I was reduced to tears – which was their purpose and never took long. These memories are strangely disembodied. They are never associated with a particular place; there is neither context nor consequence. This dissociation must be the result of their being recurrent, of being endemic in my early childhood – and that is the way I remember them.  If I had done anything to provoke him, it has left no memory trace. I can’t remember mother’s scolding, remonstrating or even saying, “wait till papa comes home” in association with this teasing, though I presume she did, just as I assume that some of the not infrequent beatings he got from papa had been for this teasing. I have never, either as child or as adult, talked about this to Tex or to anyone else and so have no take on it other than my own scarred and evanescent memories. Nor can I pinpoint when they ended, but I assume they morphed into fighting –which was recurrent but never very severe. I credit this recurrent behavior with having deprived me of self confidence – a formative element in my history.

It would be a mistake to leave a one-sided picture. Buntz was also a real big brother to me, especially as we moved into boyhood, and played softball and kick the can with neighboring kids. There were things like a toy steam engine and a small printing press, with which we would play together. In such things he was always in charge and they never caught on with me, whether because I was still too young to find use for them, too stupid to catch on, or just overwhelmed by Buntz’s superior capabilities. I remember no overt recognition of the age difference as being relevant to my poor performance, either in these educational toys or in the tasks we were expected to undertake together. This doesn’t mean that family members didn’t see them, but only that I was never supplied with the defensive excuse, which I must have made but have no memory of. A bright 7- or 8-year old can keep up with a run-of-the-mill boy of 10 or 11, but a bright older puts the younger at a disadvantage.

And Buntz was bright and loved the stage. He got out papa’s old collapsible high hat and did clever magic tricks with the magic kit he had been given. We occasionally took bicycle trips, riding the 5 or so miles across town and, after a desultory visit to the miserable zoo, biking up a long hill to have the exhilarating even longer coast down, then cooking our bacon and eggs over a fire and maybe taking a second ride down that hill before returning home. Once, on a very hot day we made the “south loop,” a road that circled past some decrepit old missions and returned to town. We had become awfully thirsty when, blessedly, an old Mexican driving a mule pulling a wagonload of watermelons appeared. We scrounged up the fifteen cents to buy one and broke it open. Good!

My earliest memory of my mother must have happened while I was in kindergarten. Mother said that she was going to visit the class and this made me nervous – not over anything I might have done, but for what she might do. I said, “OK, mama, but just don’t pull anything!” That strange locution expressed my fear that she might lean over to kiss me or otherwise reveal my still babyish ways. Already I felt the need to preserve my public image as a boy. I went to kindergarten at Bonham School near where South Alamo and South Saint Mary streets crossed, about half a mile from home. At first we three kids walked together, though soon I was alone and drove my bicycle.

My schooling had an unusual degree of continuity, some of the first-graders being in high school with me. We had an especially nice class that was made up of the more capable half of the first graders who all were skipping a semester – presumably to pioneer starting classes twice a year. It caused us to begin each grade in mid-year but also created a class made of the more focused students. I remember some who stayed together for several years: the very pretty Lorraine Nicholson, who was to accompany me and Charles to Austin a decade later, Dorothy Darlington, who dramatized that pre-fabricated stage name by being dressed very provocatively as an 8-year old, Mary Louise Guenther, only child of the flour baron, on whom I had a secret crush, and the stately blonde Lillian Riley. The boys I recall were Dan Richardson, bigger and stronger than me and my Mexican neighbor, Rudy Gonzales.  It was probably a couple of years later when I got the first of two black eyes in a valiant but unsuccessful effort to protect the sanctity of the M in my last name.

My final memory of Bonham Elementary School was at our last spring fair, at which the children performed for the assembled parents. The boys in our class, mounted on stick horses and brandishing wooden swords, galloped in a circle to spear the brass rings the girls were holding. To my delight, I won the ring, for Mary Louise was the princess who awarded the winning knight with a kiss. But that moment of glory went by so fast that I was not able to savor it – to my great disappointment.

We had a bitch dog, Lady Lou that provided me with my first lesson in sex. When I was about seven, she was in what we called a dog procession and got hitched end-to-end with one of her entourage. We three kids anxiously ran into the house to tell mother of her parlous state and she promptly got the hose to cool down the masculine ardor. When mother explained what was happening and why, I piped up with, “I bet that is the way it is with people.”

I remember the incident but not my contribution to the discourse, which I was told about later. I like to think it is true as an early example of my tendency to jump to valid conclusions from limited data. The use of inference to reach a conclusion is requisite to creative thought but jumping to conclusions from insufficient evidence is easy and very misleading. Mother had a way of doing this, as shown by an incident that contributed to the family lexicon. We were taking the customary Sunday drive, going along a country road where a recurrent little sign was fastened to the wire fence that read: “Jax, a lager brew.” That is all. Mother said, “I’m glad they finally came out with a five-cent near-beer.” In those days soft drinks were five cents but a bottle of the de-alcoholized beer of the prohibition era was fifteen cents. “How do you know?” got only one of mother’s characteristic little shrugs. At the next country store we confirmed that this price revolution had not happened. “Jaxing” proved to be a very useful verb in all subsequent family debates and, though it never made it into the dictionary, it did pass on to the next generation of our several households. Theorizing means that one must make inferences, and my tendency to do so seem to have manifested itself early, as Lady Lou’s indiscretion disclosed, but I still heed the warning of Jaxing.

Despite this early lesson in childbirth and mother’s openness, I remained terribly ignorant of sex. I once inadvertently opened the bathroom door just as Thea stepped out of the bath. She folded her arms over her chest and crossed her legs as she shouted at me and I wondered at her ability to hide her penis, for I found it quite impossible when I tried. I don’t know how old I was but it was when I should have known better. Obviously my childhood culture did not include “playing doctor” I was also well along before I learned about menstruation and was shocked to learn about it when I did.  Once Thea came home from a shopping trip with two intriguing packages; I wanted to know what was in them and had to have Kotex explained. I was unbelieving – and in a sense I still am and use this female indignity as an answer to the theory of “intelligent design” in creating humans.

It was not that I didn’t know boys from girls; I remember playing house all alone, it was to me a dark secret that I was imagining myself married; I remember once when a bevy of girls marched down our street from high school to the streetcar on Alamo Street, one with an excessive mother-fantasy picked me up and cuddled me and I kept hoping it would happen again; I remember the sense of pleasure and guilt when I came home from a big New Year’s party thinking about the girls who had kissed me. These occurrences all took place well before puberty. They were innocent of any thought of intercourse, of which I as yet had no awareness and therefore are not, in my opinion, really sexual, but certainly involved a great longing for contact with the other sex; they relate to what I have called nurturant love in Bridge. They address the issue I raise about gender identification, which is so sharply underlined by those who seek sex-change operations.

It was a bit later that I had my one oedipal dream — the only early dream for which I have a clear and explicit memory. I was no longer young anymore, I think in high school. I was in my parents’ bedroom and my mother was lying on the bed and giving birth to a baby. As I was watching the head emerge from her vagina, I realized that it was me that was being born. As I was pondering the impossibility of this dual self, I awakened. There was nothing erotic or prurient about the event, it was clinical and its interest to me was this duality that I was confronting — a philosophical issue. It was simply a naked dream about my self.

I don’t remember what prompted papa’s one foray into the subject of sex, but it was to say that one should not have sex with a girl one would marry — a rule rooted in the class society of 19th century Germany. I was vaguely aware that he had had mistresses as a young man and of the custom of casa chica in Mexico, but it ran counter to the egalitarian mores I had absorbed. I was then still a boy but knew that that was not the rule I would follow. Tex told me much later that when he was given this lecture, papa had cited Uncle Eduard, whose dalliance with native women in the South Pacific had led to syphilis, as reason to restrain oneself.

I was not subjected to this or any other moralizing from papa. He wrote long moralizing letters to Tex when he was off at college, but not to me. I suspect he had had enough of pissing into the wind. Despite this absence of moralizing, coupled as it was with the absence of any supernatural retribution, my behavior was constrained by strong moral inhibitions. The sexual urges were strong and I had the usual fantasies, but I did not act them out. Not so much from shyness as from a strong sense of moral right and wrong and the feelings of guilt aroused by any transgression. This did not apply only to the sphere of sexual mores, but to social conduct in general. I still have twinges of guilt at things that I have done long ago that I consider unseemly even when they are neither illegal nor immoral, but only against my own convictions about propriety.

This shyness is caught in a bitter-sweet memory. One summer we went on a kind of overnight picnic, taking along some of the Jockusch kids who lived in Galveston, among whom was Hetta, a bit younger than me. Their mother had been an LUC girl and whenever they visited their grandparents in the Groos mansion, we always got together. It was through them that we had access to a beautiful private pool owned by a German lumber baron’s widow, in an out-building, with the artesian water falling over a pyramid of lava rocks. Hetta was a very sweet girl, no beauty but attractive and we were automatically paired in our pre-adolescent social activities.

For some reason, it had been decided as we were all turning in for the night that there should be watches through the night and we children were paired off. Of course, Hetta and I were paired and assigned to keep the first of the watches. As the other campers fell asleep and the night grew quiet. I was tempted to hug and kiss her, but my conscience kept me from it and we spent the hours talking about the wonders of the stars. It was then, as I remember, that I first expressed the enigma that still captures my imagination: I can with difficulty imagine the universe as never ending but cannot picture its ever ending, for then what would lie beyond the boundary? I now wonder what so restrained me and feel I cheated myself and wonder if Hetta also felt cheated. Though I had not seen her since college days in Austin, she wrote me when she saw my letter in the New Yorker (1995), and in the correspondence that followed we shared reminiscences about that trip. I was to visit her in the spring of 2005 to reminisce and perhaps find out, but sadly she had died.

My only formal sexual education did not come until one spring day in my junior year in high school. An assembly was announced; uniquely with separate assemblies for the boys and girls. Soon a herd of tittering teenage boys was filing nervously into the assembly hall. A round non-descript man with a cheerily sober air bounced onto the stage. All I remember from the half-hour lecture was the warning that every drop of semen lost in masturbation was the equivalent of 20 – or was it 50? – drops of blood. By then I had been inducted to the pleasures of this sin by Buntz, which had given it a kind of legitimacy, and I just figured it was well worth it.

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“You haint one of them evolutionist, is you? And with all them nice children, too.’  Anonymous Texas woman

My childhood and youth were spent at the family home on Adams Street with my parents and my siblings until they each left for college. Adams was off South Alamo Street and our house was two long blocks to the south — a mile from downtown. (This reiteration of south for two streets at right angles is the kind of geography that leads San Antonians to appreciate that town planning originated in the paths laid out by cattle trails.)

The street was lined with homes built in the 80s or later of stone or brick for well-off families, mostly German, not far from the center of the German-American community, as a sort of extension of Sauerkraut Bend. Some houses might rate as mansions, but most were just nice family homes on 50 foot lots. By 1918 the once grand gardens were a bit neglected, but a middle-class aura remained and none had yet become funeral homes, to which the larger could aspire, and later some achieved. Adams Street was lined with hackberry trees that gave a rich shade and dropped seeds that cracked satisfactorily underfoot and chinaberry trees that dropped pea-shooter ammunition. The trees also housed English sparrows who fed on the horse apples that accumulated between the visits of the Mexican horse drawn street-sweepers but disappeared with the introduction of mechanized sweepers and the departure of the horse drawn ice-wagon and vegetable vendor. That vegetable wagon was a favorite, not only because we hopped rides on the back, to the dismay of the nag that pulled it, but because when mother settled the bill, we’d get a hand-out.

Most of the families were old and there were few children of my age nearby except in the big Irish family across the street with the ill-kept, old-car strewn yard and the Mexican Gonzales family, two doors from us in an elegant two-story brick house, whose youngest son was my best friend in the early years. The unpaved parallel streets to the east and west were lined with poorer wooden houses built more recently and thus provided more children for the games that tended to be on our street, the only paved one in the area, or in our own spacious yard.

We are looking at the 12 years, from 1918 to 1930 (the last three without my siblings). They were my childhood years and thus stretched out for an eternity. I have reminded myself that this is exactly the length of time my college years, from my arrival in Austin in 1930 to my doctorate in 1942. They are ten times as long in memory. They began as I emerged from infancy and led to the threshold of my manhood — the years of being shaped.

As this chapter rests on my early memory, I need to discuss this poor tool. I don’t know how other people’s memory works, but I find mine to be very episodic and lacking in detail. I already said that I have few memories of my first five (Fredericksburg) years and even afterward most are highly particular and embedded in explicit events, often without context. If you imagine my experiences over time as a vast seascape, you can picture my memories as archipelagos of little islands jutting above the waters of this lost nepenthe. These islands of remembered episodes will be the evidence with which to understand the dynamics of my life, trying to connect the dots in order to see the contours of the submerged mountain land below.

Three Fifteen, as it was called by our friends, fit this picture of run-down elegance. Its yard had the remnants of old Baldeson’s work that remained after suffering five years of tenant neglect. Large flower beds flanked the walk from curb to porch, edged with bricks set at 45 degree angles to show triangular red teeth, of which many were missing or askew. A male and female pair of then quite rare and fascinating cycads that had been a wedding gift was a decorative element on either side of these beds. (They were later traded to a landscape gardener for redesigning the front yard.)

The house was fronted with a deep porch with an elaborate banister and fretwork dropping from the peaked roof. An elegant front door led to a copious hallway flanked by two rooms of the same size. To the left was the parlor, which we called the library in honor of the books housed in the glass-fronted golden oak bookshelves; to the right was an all-purpose room with papa’s roll-top desk, at which he would type hunt-and-peck, very fast and fairly accurately. It also served as a general family room and even at times as Thea’s bedroom.

Beyond this front tier was the dining room I have described earlier and from it were doors at the north leading to what was once a butler’s pantry, but was now dark and dingy with a large closet we called das dunkele Schrank, on top of which were dusty scrapbooks of the war-atrocity propaganda that papa had kept, out of some kind of masochistic impulse, along with his now un-used top hats in their leather cases. The ice box was here with its pan of drip water that successive generations of cur-bred dogs would drink with a loud lapping, so it became known as klap-klap, and that would overflow when we forgot to empty it.

Behind this pantry was the kitchen, with its worn linoleum floor, a sink in a dark corner and the screened cabinet for dishes. Across the back was a large screened porch that extended to the opposite side to a door into the lone bathroom, which also opened to our parents’ bedroom. The front part of the house was brick but everything beyond the dining room was of wood construction. Much of our daily life was spent on the back porch in the long hot summers. It also was where I slept until Tex left, when I inherited the lean-to that had started as a maid’s room behind the kitchen.

This house was a home in the real sense of the word, and evoked our affection and pride, despite its manifest flaws and inadequacies. It was where family life took place; it was where we regularly ate and slept, where friends visited and family parties took place. I hadn’t been in San Antonio since mother died in 1971 and when Tex and I visited in the mid-nineties, we paid a sentimental visit to 315. As our picture was being taken in front of it, a pleasant young woman bounced out. After we explained ourselves she invited us in, glad to learn about its history and get advice on which walls were bearing walls, as she and her husband were planning to remove those that had been put in to divide the house into two apartments by an earlier owner. We kept up a correspondence until they moved out. The old house had been a warm and social hive that offered a safe haven though, as in most households, not all was sweetness and light. As we each grew to college age, we became eager to leave, but we always brought our sweethearts and later our spouses to visit. It was an emblem of who we were.

In Bridge, I say that each life is the protagonist in a common drama, for which others in his life are supporting cast; each in turn becoming protagonist in a drama for which the others are supporting cast. The common plot is always, in my view: Will our hero get the ego gratification he or she desires? This chapter therefore is the first and defining act of that iteration in which I am protagonist. To understand the trials and tribulations of our hero, we must appreciate the characters that have shaped his experience and the dynamic relationship between him and them. The central drama in this act is the dynamic interaction between me and Buntz, played out in relationship to our mother. I sometimes think of this as “the other eternal triangle,” because it is as old and universal as the competition for mates – and, I think, more significant in the history of human affairs. You can read in Bridge that I do not see this love triangle in Freudian terms of sexual desire, but as being a contest for the mother’s nurturant love, and thus not truly Oedipal. It is the search for maternal approval that lies at the core of human aspirations. I will, try to describe the culture at 315 as an ethnographer would, using episodes of remembered events as examples, leaving my analysis of it to the end.

Though mother had lived all her life in San Antonio and had a lot of friends, we had no relatives there except for her brother Paul and his family and I never knew any other kin until much later. I have always felt this to be a great loss, for I think the special relationship that characteristically grows up among kindred is a corrective to many of the tensions of family life; that it is no accident that kindred are important in every society I know of. I do not idealize the worth of kinsmen, but see the potentials inherent in their being there. They can be parental without having the responsibility of parents. For instance, once when we were in grammar school the circus came to town and Uncle Paul – “Unkie” — came and sprung us out of school to see the parade and go to it, under the sensible but unorthodox theory that it was more important than anything that we might learn that day. This is the kind of things that it is hard for parents to do. We were not close – I think he and mother weren’t close as children, and our life-style and values were very different, and yet it was a broadening tie with reality. I used to go to their house on weekends and play with Paul, Jr. –Sonny to us – and we remained good friends.

Sonny and his wife stayed with Karl and Mark when Gale and I went to Europe in 1958 and came to Mark’s wedding. His widow, Lucille is the only other remaining member of the family of my generation and we have visited one another on several occasions. She is a remarkable woman.

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