Page 10 - Looking Back-sample-rev
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L OO K I N G B AC K 	 1 7

the relationship he had with his own father and then of course the cir-
cumstances surrounding my birth.

My grandfather had not spoken to his son since the day my father left
Denmark. One day—I remember I was twenty-one and had just finished
college—he shocked us all by turning up at Central Station in Chicago,
which was at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road. At eighty-five he
had taken a boat from Copenhagen, docked in New York and somehow
got on a train to Chicago. He didn’t speak English, of course, but man-
aged to call our home. My father took a streetcar down to meet him and
bring him back to our home. I remember that my grandfather brought
with him a gift of of Danish Royal Copenhagen serving pieces, perhaps
as a peace offering from my father’s mother. During my grandfather’s
visit to Chicago I attempted to communicate with him, even using Dan-
ish words like Bestefa, for Grandfather, but I could see in his eyes that
he did not want to have any part of me. I have a feeling he never got
over his son’s untimely marriage and somehow held me responsible. He
stayed with us for about a week, then turned around and went back,
explaining that before he died he simply wanted to see his son.

The Purpose of Life

Someone once asked me what was the happiest period of my life. I
didn’t even have to think about it: high school. I enjoyed all my courses
because everything came so easily—math, chemistry, physics—that I
barely had to study the material. What’s more, I was sought out by the
football coach to try out for the team. He had noticed my size early in
freshman year and stopped me in the hall. We talked and he suggested
I go out for football. I made the team in my sophomore year and played
end, which is the position a tall person usually played in those days. For
the next three years I concentrated on football, was elected to the Na-
tional Honor Society, and excelled in the college preparatory program.
I was on top of the world. After being kidded all those years about my
size, being on the football team in a school that large gave me a sense
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