That’s my Aunt Betty holding me sometime in 1946. According to my mother, she had declared me the ugliest baby she had ever seen. Looking at the picture I would have to agree with her. Aunt Betty was probably about 16 years old at the time, so I can forgive her for voicing her opinion even though she has given me a life-long complex.
I first saw the light of day the previous November. I was born at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, New York with a severe case of yellow jaundice. It was so severe I was not expected to live. Both my parents had been raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, a denomination antagonistic towards Roman Catholicism. So I was given last rites which, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, gave me both a guaranteed entrance into heaven should I die in infancy and membership in the Roman Catholic Church. So not only did my folks get to take home an infant baby boy, they also got a heretic in the deal.
On the right is a photo of my mother and me. My facial features are a little bit more pleasant here.
Few babies actually arrive on the predicted date. It seems to be a mark of honor to be a preemie or a few weeks overdue. If that's the case, I hold an unbeatable record for being overdue: thirteen months! “What? That's impossible!” you might be exclaiming. But it’s the truth. I was supposed to have been born in October of 1944, but my sister Pat decided she would be born then.
At the time of my birth my family was living in Ridgewood, a neighborhood in Queens. We didn't live there too much longer after I was born because
I developed double pneumonia while my parents were superintendents of an apartment house in Brooklyn. They were advised by my doctor to get me out of the city and into the country where the air would be cooler and fresher. As a result, my parents purchased some property in Seldon on Long Island and started a goat farm.
Up to this point I have no personal memories. They start to accumulate sometime late in my second year or early in my third year and while living in Seldon. We’ll pick up my life story out on Long Island.