Here’s an excerpt from my book:
Even back in the early 1940s, I had a feeling that I was different from other kids, and from the grownups, too. It wasn’t always an unpleasant feeling because it made me feel special. But the bad part was that I was so sensitive, touchier than any of the kids I knew, and certainly more than the grownups, I was sure of that. When I was really small, I didn’t know what “sensitive” was, I just knew that a lot of things made me afraid or made me cry — going to new places, the way some grownups looked at me, having to eat unfamiliar foods. My sister Bertie said I was a sissy.
Once when I was around three, Ma took me and Bertie to have our pictures taken by a professional photographer. I didn’t want to sit on the bench with Bertie while the big man fiddled with an ominous-looking black box that I was certain would shoot out knives, bullets, flames or worse when he pressed the button. I wanted to bolt and hide my face in Ma’s skirt. But she was raising us according to the “snap-out-of-it” method, so I had no choice but to sit there and try not to cry or wet my pants. I still have that photo today, and there I am — a tiny girl in a flowered dress and pigtails, round eyes wide with terror.
Ma didn’t know how to deal with me. She was a sensible woman who expected us to be the same, and she wanted us to be thick-skinned, too. She was a strict disciplinarian, very controlling and not particularly warm or affectionate, although she had a great sense of humor. I had no idea when I was little that she was already afraid that I’d turn out to be unstable like Pop, and was always on guard to make sure I didn’t make a “fuss” about things.