A FIRSTBORN CHILD will likely have for his whole life long the feeling that he is special. From time to time, he finds reinforcement of this notion in the commonplace events of life, magnifying them into personal marvels. At a church picnic in a big, greentreed, meadowland city park, kids running around like Red Indians, three-legged races, Jell-O salad with colored marshmallows, grownups confabulating, laughing their grumbly grownup laughter, I finally worried loose a front tooth and pulled it free. Excited, crying out with pleasure, I held it up for someone to see, and suddenly everyone was laughing and crying and hugging and shouting out loud. I was amazed at the sensation, and could hardly believe that it resulted from my baby tooth coming free, but facts were facts: the tooth came out, I was excited, I held the tooth out for all to see, and everybody got real happy all at once.

The radio news had just announced on the very day and hour of my tooth's popping out of my mouth, July 26, 1953, that the Korean War had ended. The armistice was signed on the 27th in Korea, but in Fresno it was still the 26th. Even when I found this out my pleasure was undiminished, and secretly, deep in my heart, I always believed that all those people were as excited by my tooth as I was.

March 12, 1994


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