George T. Wright is a retired English professor who lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Starting from Staten Island: Memories of Peace and War in the 1930s and 1940s
My earlier book, The Wrights of Vermont (Wheatmark, 2013), reported the search I began about ten years ago for my father’s Vermont forebears. I had learned a lot, especially about my grandmother’s heroic efforts to save her shaky marriage. Eventually she left Vermont to begin a new life on Staten Island for herself and her two sons, Dad and Uncle Ray.
This book shows Dad and Mother starting their family on Staten Island and describes our home, our neighborhood, the boarding house where we sometimes dined, the schools we attended, the songs we sang, how we learned to think about money, work, fun, guilt, and politics, and our experience, especially mine, of illness, solitude, and books.
Later chapters show our horizons expanding. They tell where we went on outings and how we spent our summers (ours at a riverside cottage near the New Jersey coast, and mine at an unusual summer camp in upstate New York), and they sketch the different world we found when we moved to Manhattan in 1941. I entered Columbia then and began to discover new realms of literature, philosophy, and music. Then at eighteen, with other young men of that time, I was swept up into military service in the U.S. Army and war in France and Germany.