Baby Clothes in the Basement

Born in 1921, my mother had her family when she was considerably older than most mothers of that generation: her first son was born in 1956 (Sputnik!), her daughter in 1959 (Mercury!), and her second son in 1960 (dawn of the Space Age!). She sometimes told us that as long as she could have only three, she was glad that her three were the best. Pleased at being the best, I glowed at hearing the last part of her comment; the first part never quite registered.

We were the tail-end of the Baby Boom, that huge demographic bump caused by servicemen home from World War II, eager to begin their families at last. (My parents were both servicemen home from the war, too, who met unexpectedly ten years after the war’s end and only belatedly followed the lead of their cohort.) We lived in one of those new subdivisions at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley, on ground that had until recently been farmland, and all the houses on our block and on the nearby streets I knew as well as my own were spilling over with children.

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