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                                              How I Got Hooked on O'Hara

My father had an original 1958 edition of From The Terrace. As a college student who at at the time
was reading Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, I didn't want to bother with this "lesser" author.
In cleaning out the family home after my mother's death in 1990, I took the novel with me, tried to read it several times but couldn't get into it. Then one day I forced myself through to page 24. I was suddenly struck by the authenticity of the dialogue ("This is how children really speak!"), had this Moment of Truth, got hooked on this wonderful writer, and after over twenty years I'm still at it. 

Please bear with me, it's long, but it's personal to me, and it should be a quick read.

It's about 1904. Billy Eaton, the oldest child of Samuel and Martha Eaton, has died of spinal meningitis at the age of ten. He is survived by his younger siblings, Alfred, Sally and Constance. The three children are having breakfast with their mother Martha. Present also is the cook Nellie.

  "Where did you put Billy's napkin ring?" said Sally.
  "Me?" said Nellie.
  "Or Mother," said Sally.
  "I have it upstairs, dear. It isn't lost," said Martha.
  "Won't Billy ever come back? Ever?" said Constance.
  "I told you he wouldn't," said Sally.
  "No, he's in heaven with the little Lord Jesus," said Martha.
  "He doesn't know the little Lord Jesus," said Constance.
  "But the little Lord Jesus knows him," said Martha. "They're happy together."
  "How do you know?" said Constance.
  "Because everybody is happy with the little Lord Jesus."
  "Im not. I don't know Him. I never saw Him, said Constance.
  "Well, you know what He looks like," said Sally. "You've seen pictures of Him."
  "They're all different," said Constance.
  "It's religion," said Alfred.
  "I don't understand it," said Constance.
  "What don't you understand dear?" said Martha.
  "The whole thing."
  "Well, there's a lot to learn and you can't learn it all at once. The little Lord Jesus sent for Billy, and so Billy went to heaven."
  "But I don't think it was nice of the little Lord Jesus to make him so sick. Billy had to throw up-"
  "Not at the table," said Sally.
  "And why did he send for Billy? Why didn't he send for Alfred?
   The boy looked at his mother.
  "Because-" she began.
  "He wanted Billy," said Alfred.
  "No," said Martha. "Not because he preferred Billy, but because, you see we don't always understand what God does, and the little Lord Jesus - I know! At least I think he wanted Alfred to stay here and take care of all of us. And that's what Alfred will do, too, won't you dear?"
  "I guess so, I don't know," said the boy.

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