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Society & Culture

The Sentinel

“Don’t mention the war,” my grandfather told me a few minutes before our guest, an old friend from the Business Administration faculty at the nearby university, joined us for lunch.  This was in Tacoma, Washington, in the summer of 1975, and I was visiting from England, on vacation from college.  In that particular summer, it would be fair to say that most of my classmates back at Cambridge were more concerned with the delights of the disco scene than they were with thoughts of the world I was about to encounter, one that is difficult nowadays to imagine.  There, some of the greatest horrors of the 20th century were on display.

Our guest that day was Col. Burton C. Andrus (U.S. Army, Ret.), and, true to his military calling, he arrived precisely on time.  Or, to be more literally true, he didn’t.  About 15 minutes before the appointed hour, my grandfather called me over to the front window and, with an amused smile, pointed to a large-finned Cadillac parked directly across the street.  I could see a man sitting bolt upright in the driver’s seat, reading a newspaper.  My grandfather and I then stood waiting for the hands of the living-room clock to reach exactly 12:30 p.m.  During these minutes, the figure in the car continued reading the paper, as though he was in fact sitting unobserved in a chair in his own home, and not parked immediately opposite our front door,...

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