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Si didn't know until much later that his wife was having an affair with Freddie, a stranger from downstate who had retired to this region "for his nerves" it was said, and had a house and a few cabins to rent on the road to Elizabethtown. Freddie was a tall, handsome fellow, but he looked somehow fragile. I used to walk the five miles to his house from Moses' farm, and Freddie would play me classical music on his Victrola. Often I'd go on from there, hitching a ride the twenty or so miles to Elizabethtown, where there was a drug store that sold Modern Library Giants, and where I first became acquainted with Alfred Lord Tennyson and others.

I'm looking at all this now in a golden light. But it wasn't always so good. Moses and the rest of the family frequently were not on speaking terms. The hired man, a French-Canadian from Quebec, often didn't speak to anyonel and the local idiot whom Moses boarded for a fee sometimes wouldn't speak at all, brooding over some slight, real or imagined. He may have been an idiot, but he was a remarkably good piano player. And there were the square dances, which made things better, at least for a little while. Doc Goff, a summer person from New York, was usually in attendance at these, accompanied by his beautiful daughters or nieces. Bud was a square-dance caller as well as a guitar player. I watched all this with delight. I could hardly wait for the day when I'd be old enough to square dance too, or maybe play the guitar.

Some summers, one or another of my uncles would show up and stay for a while. There was Zip (Ezra), a successful New York City lawyer, and his wife, Anne. Zip was an ardent fly fisherman, and he collected early American glass bottles. He and Anne were both killed years later when a car went out of control at 72nd street and Broadway and mowed them both down. My Uncle Simon would sometimes come. He was a dentist, husband of my father's sister, Ida, a stately, beautiful woman.

All of this was taking place between my fifth and sixteenth years. As I grew older, the farm life became less precious to me, but I always wanted to go there.

My sister Joan, three and a half years my junior, always went to the farm with the rest of us.  She was (and is) a pretty blonde woman, apparently amiable and easy-going, showing no signs of the inner doubts and uncertainties that troubled her.  In later years, she married; had a daughter, Susan; divorced; became a licensed psychotherapist; and practices to this day on Manhattan's West Side.  We were friends and companions in those early years, before I became obsessed with my own growing-up issues.  I remember once we went out to climb a mountain to a lookout post.  We got lost and were gone all day, finally found a road out, and were dismayed to learn that our parents had called the police to look for us.

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Robert Sheckley's Autobiography

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