Our father rode sitting upright in the high baby carriage, like a boy in a small boat. It was his first memory. Displaced as he’d been from the shade under the perambulator’s hood, occupied now by yet another bundled infant, he spread out his arms and clutched the sides of the carriage: a boy in a storm-tossed rowboat. His mother, pushing the thing, was behind him. She navigated the broken sidewalks, the curbs and the street crossings, with a banging determination that caused the whole contraption—high wheels and springs and the hard black body of the carriage itself—to shudder and quake, rearing at the curbs, bucking at the cobblestones, swinging left or right around pokey pedestrians, dog droppings, the spilled contents of fruit markets, dry-goods stores, garbage cans. He rode every undulation, every swerve, with his spine straight, his arms outspread and his hands fixed tightly around the squared edges of the carriage bed as if he were grasping the gunwales. He looked straight on. There were trees and cars, dustbins and lampposts on the left; on the right, buildings, gray stone and brick, with stoops and children and speared fence tops, but he kept his eyes glued to the horizon that began just above the arc of the black hood, focusing on the world ahead like a sea captain navigating an ice storm. He was petrified.
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