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By Richard Russo

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I’ll think about it,” I said. “But the people who actually lived next door are the problem. ” “It is tempting to lie, though,” I admitted. ” She yawned, and I knew she’d be asleep and snoring peacefully in another minute or two. ” It’s true. I’m prone to obsession. “It won’t be,” I promised her. But I’m not the only reason my wife is on guard against obsession. Her father, who taught English at the high school, spent his summers writing a novel that by the end had swollen to more than a thousand single-spaced pages and still with no end in sight.

When the winter trees were bare I could see the water sparkling from the upstairs windows, but I wasn’t allowed to play along the banks. My grandfather owned a car, and by the time I awoke in the bedroom I shared with my parents, he and my father had already left for work. I vaguely remember my mother being unhappy about living “in each other’s laps” and that we were saving for the day we could afford a flat of our own in town. With no other children nearby, I’d become a quiet, solitary child, and my mother was determined that I attend kindergarten in town and make friends.

But the ancestors of our black families moved here from the South and Midwest just before the First World War. The third section of Thomaston—the Borough—is located in the northeast sector, contiguous to both the East End and Whitcombe Park, and while it’s smaller than the East and West Ends in terms of both geography and population, what little wealth we have is concentrated here. Needless to say, this is where you’ll find Thomaston Country Club and the prettiest of our town parks, the one that houses a band shell for summer concerts, as well as the most desirable elementary school (Thomaston children have never been bused).

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