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Horgan - Black Snowflakes

AKE "Snowflakes are white, Richard. White! White! " she said. "When will you ever see things as they are!" By Paul Horgan "Diehard, Richard," they said to me often in my childhood, "when will you begin to see things as they are?" But I always learned from one thing what another was, and it was that way when we all went from Dorchester to New York to see my grandfather off for Europe, the year before the First World War broke out. He was a German—my mother's father—and it was his habit, all during the long time he lived in Dorchester, New York, to return to Germany for a visit every year or two. I was fearful of him, for he was large, splendidly formal in his dress and majestic in his manner, and yet I loved him for he made me know that he believed me someone worthwhile. I was ten years old, and I could imagine being like him myself someday, with glossy white hair swept back from a broad, pale brow, and white eyebrows above China-blue eyes, and rosy cheeks, a fine sweeping moustache and a well-trimmed white beard that came to a point. He sometimes wore eyeglasses with thin gold rims, and I used to put them on and take them off in secret. I suppose I had no real idea of what he was like. There was something in the air about going to New York to see him off that troubled me. I did not want to go. "Why not, my darling?" my mother asked as I was going to bed the night before we were to leave home. Before going down to dinner, she always came in to see me, to kiss me good night, to glance about my room with her air of giving charm to all that she saw, and to whisper a prayer with me that God would keep us. "I don't want to leave Anna." "What a silly boy. Anna will be here when we get back, doing the laundry in the basement or making Apfelkuchen, just as she always does. And while we are gone, she will have a little vacation. Won't that be nice for her? You must not be selfish." "I don't want to leave Mr. Schmitt and Ted." Mr. Schmitt was the iceman, and Ted was his horse. My mother made a little breath of comic exasperation, looking upward for a second. "You really are killing," she said in the racy slang of the time. "Why should you mind leaving them for a few days? What is so precious Ni• Ja' *. • • Illustrated by David Blossom 31


Horgan - Black Snowflakes
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