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It was the last Sunday in November of 1965 and his twenty-first birthday when Kenny Wisdom landed at Idlewild airport, which had been renamed John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

A lot of things had changed. Kenny's parents had moved to a different section of Brooklyn a few years back. He took the crumpled letter they had written him about their change of address from his pocket and dialed their new phone number from a booth at the airport. He didn't yell "Surprise!" when his mother answered, he just asked her what was for dinner because he said he would be home in half an hour. He hung up before she could express her astonishment.

He caught a cab for Brooklyn which took him on the Belt Parkway past the fishing boats returning to Canarsie from their early morning trawl, the red-tiled roof of the Lundy Brothers' huge seafood restaurant in Sheepshead Bay, and the parachute jump in Coney Island and . . . "What's that?"

"Whadda ya mean, 'Wat's dat?' " said the cabby. "Dat's de bridge. De longest suspended bridge in de woild, de Verrazano, dat's all! Where you been?"

When they arrived Kenny paid the fare and stood for a moment looking at the six-story, gray, sixty-unit building with the name "The Royal Poinciana" cut into the cement above the front entrance when the building was constructed prior to World War One.

He went inside and checked out the mailboxes for the right apartment number, took the elevator up to the proper floor and rang the doorbell. He heard the joyful commotion even before it explodedopen the door, and pulled him in and spilled all over him. His mother was hugging and kissing his head, his sister wrapped her arms around his waist, and his father was shaking his left hand with both of his.

His mother began crying with happiness. Her hair had turned gray with streaks of white and she had gained a little weight since she had the operation she wrote him about. His sister was also laughing-crying. She was a teen-ager--tall, blond, shy and pale from anemia. His father was smiling broadly with honest embarrassment. He had suffered a cardiac thrombosis a while ago but he was over it now, and his hair was still thick and jet-black, and his shoulders and back were as straight and erect as they always had been.

Kenny sort of felt like a stranger but he knew he was home with [end page 211]


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