The magazines were piles of old New Yorkers. I couldn’t begin to make sense of the writing, but I loved the cartoons, whose captions I could make sense of. Combing the magazines for cartoons was a happy treasure hunt–like poking through Cracker Jacks looking for the coated peanuts.
As much as I enjoyed the magazines, the thought that I might be getting a shot could ruin my pleasure. In those days needles were sterilized and re-used, which meant that they were often dull. I was a sensitive child, and those shots hurt–especially the dreaded tetanus booster.
I liked my two pediatricians, Dr. Temerson, who died young, and then Dr. Stone, who was bald and wore glasses. If, during the visit, they told my mother that I needed a shot, she’d lead her child, now scared and miserable, back to the same waiting room. But now I couldn’t concentrate on the magazines. Instead, I begged and wheedled uncontrollably, a routine that never accomplished anything. When it came to shots, my mother, usually a kind and empathetic woman, had a heart of stone.
A no-nonsense nurse, dressed in white, gave the shots. She had little patience for my terror and little sympathy for my tears. After the deed was done, she’d offer me a lollipop. The lollipop was good, but if the nurse thought it would help me forget the torture I’d suffered, she was wrong.
New Rochelle, New York