My father, Oliver, finished law school at Columbia, and he and Anne and my sister, Julia, and I moved to Pennsylvania, in both cases moving close to their parents. We lived in a small rental halfway between Newtown Square and Westchester, not more than a mile from my father’s father’s house, where he was living with his second wife and their son, and not more than six miles from my mother’s father’s house, the Boxmead Farm, presided over by Alfred, where older siblings Constance and Sydney had gotten married. Constance was then living at home, with Alfred and her very young daughter, her marriage to Sydney having ended.

My father undertook to study for the Pennsylvania Bar exams. It was too hard to work in the small rental house, with two little children underfoot. Anne’s Grandmother Biddle, Alfred’s mother, had recently died, and her house in Philadelphia was empty and not yet sold. Oliver began going into town to study, and he began to find it convenient to stay overnight. This arrangement ended when it was discovered that he was having an affair in the house, and that was the end of Anne and Oliver’s marriage as well. Anne moved back home, to Boxmead Farm, where there were now the father, Alfred, two of his daughters, Constance and Anne, and their three children, ages three, two, and one.

Kelly Nowels