Not too long after the Second World War, I was a student in a day school in the Hudson Valley, a virtual paradise on an estate of about fifty acres overlooking the river at a point that many of its painters have memorialized in some of the best paintings America has ever seen. There I was, in this verdant place, not even ten years old, learning my lessons, returning each night to my family. From May through September we would sit outside every evening on a brick terrace under an enormous magnolia and have tea until darkness closed in. What a wealth of hours I spent with my father, talking about every subject known to man, and how easily I spent it, considering what I know now and what I would do, if I could, to bypass the laws of nature just to have a minute with him.

On the playing fields of this school we learned nearly every team sport in existence, courtesy of a short ex-Marine whom we called Coach, a good...

 
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