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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash
(2001)

Nash, Edith
Sixteen,   pp. 13-15


Page 13

Sixteen
 I graduated from Oak Park High School at fifteen and was supposed to attend
Vassar College in the mysterious East. My mother thought I was too young
— that I should wait one year. I considered myself sixteen, going on
twenty-five and planned a year of educational entertainment to pass the time:
a sewing class at a downtown school (this was really my mother's idea but
I went along) and a class each quarter at Lewis Institute on the west side
with our family friend and my mentor, Edwin Herbert Lewis. He taught really
interesting subjects like Romantic Poets and Creative Writing.
 I had morning classes and spent afternoons at the movies in downtown Chicago.
If I timed it right, I could go to two shows, only the Oriental had a stage
show with a movie and that took longer. Then home to Oak Park on the Elevated
and if luck was with me and a brother was available, we could eat dinner
at home in a flash, escape from the house and go to another movie, this time
in the car. At one time there was vaudeville at the State and Lake, and Paul
knew the names of every act. I enjoyed them, not as much as he did, because
I liked movies better — the darkened theater, the big screen, the fantasy
world inhabited by familiars, like Ronald Colema~, who played out wild and
improbable lives so reassuringly, compared to the vast interior drama in
my head.
 I can't remember my parents ever questioning my attending movies two or
three times a day or even asking me what I had seen or how much it cost.
I always seemed to have money in my purse, from what source I can no longer
say. It was just there.
 So one day in Dr. Lewis' class, a man bet the teacher and won. The bet came
about in this way: Dr Lewis often lectured on the events in the great world,
scientific and political, that took place at the same time poems were written.
And on this occasion, he said, "I'll bet a good red apple that no one here
knows when George Washington was born."
 A thick, nondescript man said, "1732."
 There were shouts and laughter and the Dominie, as Dr.
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