The Laughing Man

In1928,whenIwasnine,Ibelonged,withmaximumespritdecorps,toanorganizationknownastheComancheClub.Everyschooldayafternoonatthreeo’clock,twenty-fiveofusComancheswerepickedupbyourChiefoutsidetheboys’exitofP.S.165,on109thStreetnearAmsterdamAvenue.WethenpushedandpunchedourwayintotheChief’sreconvertedcommercialbus,andhedroveus(accordingtohisfinancialarrangementwithourparents)overtoCentralPark.Therestoftheafternoon,weatherpermitting,weplayedfootballorsoccerorbaseball,depending(veryloosely)ontheseason.Rainyafternoons,theChiefinvariablytookuseithertotheMuseumofNaturalHistoryortotheMetropolitanMuseumofArt.

Saturdaysandmostnationalholidays,theChiefpickedusupearlyinthemorningatourvariousapartmenthousesand,inhiscondemned-lookingbus,droveusoutofManhattanintothecomparativelywideopenspacesofVanCortlandtParkorthePalisades.Ifwehadstraightathleticsonourminds,wewenttoVanCortlandt,wheretheplayingfieldswereregulationsizeandwheretheopposingteamdidn’tincludeababycarriageoranirateoldladywithacane.IfourComancheheartsweresetoncamping,wewentovertothePalisadesandroughedit.(IremembergettinglostoneSaturdaysomewhereonthattrickystretchofterrainbetweentheLinitsignandthesiteofthewesternendoftheGeorgeWashingtonBridge.Ikeptmyhead,though.

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