April 18, - Princeton Hospital, Princeton, New Jersey
The chalk on the blackboard of his mind was beginning to blur as Albert rested his head back on the pillow, eyes closed. "Of course!" he whispered in the dark, exhaling his last breath.
Mary awoke suddenly and glanced at the bedside alarm clock. Joe slept silently beside her. "Quarter past one" she read, while slowly rising and making her way to the darkened kitchen to fix a hot cup of Lipton tea. Suddenly she felt dizzy, then faint. Leaning against the counter for support, she steadied herself; "God, I hope I’m not pregnant again" she thought, while slowly lowering herself into a chair. After a minute the spell had passed, leaving in its wake the uncomfortable feeling that something inside her had changed.
Twenty five years old, Mary had married at nineteen and already had been "blessed" with three children: Ann (4), John (3) and Patricia (6 months). This ordinary family of five lived in a government subsidized housing project on Memorial Circle in Andover, Massachusetts. Thousands of similar complexes had been erected around the country to house the growing families of military veterans in the post World War II baby boom era. Joseph Howard had served with the Army Air Corps at the tail end of the conflict and had finished his tour attached to an Army Intelligence unit stationed in Germany as part of the Allied Occupation Forces.
Struggling to support a young and growing family, Joe worked for his brother’s laundry business in Andover center. Equipped with a GI Bill enabled Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Merrimack College [he was a member of that schools’ first graduating class in 1951] Joe had yet to secure the level of employment that his education had promised.
[end of chapter excerpt]