(I Thought My Father Looked Like FDR) by George Chambers, 1972
The magic trick:
Total disconnect between title and story
What’s in a name? What’s in a name? Quite a lot here, actually.
The story is quick. It’s funny. It’s scary. It’s sad. It tells the tale of a young man working with senior citizens in a retirement home. It does not paint a pretty picture.
Nowhere does it mention FDR or the narrator’s father. So what’s this title all about? I’m not sure exactly. It would seem to accentuate the distance between how we perceive the aging process on people we know and look up to and how we see it in other people, perhaps how it really is. That’s just a thought. The point is the fact that the title and story seem totally disconnected prompts the reader to think and analyze, trying to link the two ideas. And that’s quite a trick on Chambers’s part.
At 3:30 pm there was always the same crisis. Then the “Humpty-Dumpty” hour, a children’s show with live animals, clowns, and cartoons, was on television. Most of the people in the Workshop wanted to watch it, but it was against Sunset Hill House regulations. Usually, one or two would start weeping. That time always provoked one man, whose name I forget, to speak seriously about the “great fall” that was the occasion of Humpty-Dumpty’s demise. “It was” he would say, “a great fall.”
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This excerpt made me sad. It reminded me how when you fall or have a stroke when you are old it can change your whole life.