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  • At Home With Peter BradleyBy Malaika Tapper
    Peter Bradley was one of two children formally adopted by a woman named Edith Ramsay Strange: he survives; the girl is dead. Edith Ramsay Strange took in 62 other foster children but she did not adopt any of them. Edith brought Peter to her home when he was three days old; Peter did not know from where. He did not know why he was adopted and the others were not but he did know that being adopted meant that he could paint. Peter had pocket money, his own room at the top of the house, and tailor-made clothing. None of the other children had these things and Peter could feel that his mother bestowed these privileges on him not because she favored him over the others, but as a shield against the taunts that would surely come from the children who Edith Ramsay Strange had not chosen to adopt. The house where Edith Ramsay Strange brought up Peter Bradley was in Western Pennsylvania and it had 27 bedrooms. The window in Peter’s bedroom looked onto the Youghiogheny River, a river that George Washington’s horse crossed when George Washington was on his way to set up Pittsburgh. Peter woke up each morning and spent the day painting. In the evening, his mother came upstairs after a day of work. Edith Ramsay Strange did not do the work expected of a Black woman in Western Pennsylvania in the 1940s, she refused to do that, just as she refused to be listed in the Green Book (you either knew or you didn’t). She did not sweep white floors; instead, Edith Ramsay Strange accepted payments from the state of Pennsylvania for each of the 62 children she fostered, and she held shares in famous jazz clubs in Detroit and Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Every evening, Peter’s mother came upstairs and leaned against the left side of the door to his room and the Youghiogheny River reflected the light of sundown against her reddish hair. She asked how many drawings Peter had made that day and Peter told her how many and she said, “I like this one,” and “I don’t like that one,” and then she asked…
  • The KingBy Eli Zuzovsky
    2003 When I was nine years old, my dad killed our dog Max. That was something he would regret for the rest of his life; something he had never planned on doing. Especially not when, ten years earlier, he drove a rental from Colchester to Yorkshire and back to get my mom the dog of her dreams. Max was a small Terrier that we all adored. My parents got him when they were in their last year of law school in England. A few months later I was born and we all moved to Tel Aviv. Even today, years after Max died, my dad still keeps a photo of him in his office. It shows the dog and my pregnant mother, lounging on my parents’ bed in Colchester, posing like two Gap models. My dad has always been a Notoriously Good Person who sometimes messes up but never means to. In our city, he was somewhat of a local celebrity. He owned a small law firm and was known by his nickname, Dov, which had belonged to his grandpa and meant Bear in Hebrew. Being his son meant getting into concerts and nightclubs for free, but also hearing the rumors people spread about him. Some said he’d broken somebody’s nose in middle school because the guy called my grandma a hooker. That he’d lent a million shekels to a client, who fled to Bulgaria and disappeared. That he’d cheated on my mom with a Brazilian tourist. But one thing seemed to be clear to everyone, even the girl he knocked up at seventeen and the principal who kicked him out of high school: My dad was always full of good intentions. Which, if the saying was true, meant that he was on the highway to hell. Which somehow squared with the fact that he had killed a guiltless Terrier right in front of me. But my dad never believed in hell. Both his parents were Jewish, but only in the technical sense. His mom, who had converted from Catholicism, kept whispering her Ave Maria every night before going to sleep. His dad would spend his Friday evenings playing cards with friends—his private version of a synagogue. Sometime around his Bar Mitzvah…