The West Side of My Youth

The West Side of My Youth

I was born in 1920 in the old Women’s Hospital of St. Luke’s at 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Two-thirds of a wretched century later, I reside one block west and five blocks north on Broadway and 115th Street, overlooking the Columbia University campus and the two buildings that engaged my youthful energies as a member of the Columbia College class of 1942—Hamilton Hall, where most undergraduate humanities and social science classes met, and Butler Library, named inevitably after Nicholas Murray Butler, tyrant of all that he surveyed.

With two involuntary exceptions, mine has been a West Side life. From the time I was five until I was twenty-two, my parents for inscrutable reasons occupied a house in Sea Cliff, a disagreeably anti-Semitic north shore of Long Island bedroom village. At 18, I partially escaped by commuting daily on the Long Island railroad and the Seventh Avenue IRT to Columbia College.

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Lima