I played alone and quietly at the base of the staircase in our house. There was a radiator in the entry, and the carpet between the bottom staircase step and front door was always warm. My favorite toy was a
wooden Noah's ark with sets upon sets of animals which I would line up in parade fashion to walk the gang plank and board the ark. I loved all the hand-carved wooden pieces, but I especially loved the lions
which my mother had glued fuzzy pieces of golden wool around their faces to make a textured and tufted mane. Some days, I would place the ark at the top of the staircase and put the pairs of like animals on
each successive step, beginning with the elephants and ending with the giraffes. I'd hum a tune in my head as I marched them up the stairs, and once the ark was full, I held it in my hands and rocked it as if it was on
the high seas in the midst of a storm. It usually sailed into my bedroom, and I placed it on a low shelf near the closet next to my bedtime books, Treasure Island and Great Expectations. My mother would read me to sleep every night by the light of an oil lamp and sometimes she would fall
fast asleep and wake up next to me in the morning.