It’s dry and cold and because of this my arms itch, precisely on and around the shoulders. I notice, as I lift my shirt’s sleeve to scratch, that I’ve concentrated on the tattoo that’s on my right shoulder.

The tattoo is a symbol, a signature, initials really. They are of my grandfather, who died just before I moved to Portland. Last month he had a birthday; he would have been 103. I remembered it and decided to call my grandmother; well into her nineties, she is still living. It was a sweet thing to do, I was told by my mother. The thing was it felt sweet but it also created a another feeling, one that won’t be satisfied with a scratch. It created a pressure in a place that’s somewhere between my left nostril and my left eyeball. You might call it the tear duct. The pressure I feel there isn’t me crying—though I’d like to—it’s just a pressure that feels tender and real.

A while back I pulled out a Radio Shack brand cassette tape recorder from a box that was my grandfather’s, Poppa, we call him. I listened to his life story—the first part of it anyway -- as told by the man himself, William Keil Jr.

Tape 1, Side A is marked in his handwriting JAN 05 to WWII. I decided that I would transcribe what I heard and have typed it. On the tape were written APR-MAY, JUNE ’99, the months of recording.

I guess the best way to begin this is to say when I was born, which was January 25, nineteen five to William Keil Sr. and Frieda Schneider Keil. And we lived at 113 East 83rd Street in New York City.

I was baptized May, 28, nineteen five in the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Shortly thereafter – I think it was about a year – the family moved to White Plains, where they had built two houses, I believe. Number 120 Fisher Avenue and number 122 Fisher Avenue. We lived at 122 and our aunties, Aunt Anna, Aunt Bessie and Aunt Phoebe, three of Pappa’s sisters, lived next door, 120.

The family increased to Rose, Ruth, Marian and Edward. And we moved from Fisher Avenue to Rathmond Avenue and then to South Broadway, 107."