The Saturday Night Crowd—that’s what they called themselves, and during these desolate days I can’t stop thinking about that name. They were a group of good friends, men and women who had made it through the Great Depression as American teenagers. The men had gone off to fight in Europe or the Pacific, sometimes both. Back home and married in the 1950s, they were doing their best to make a life for their young families.

I can still see their faces: Chuck and Frannie, Leonard and Evelyn, Bob and Phyllis, Jacqueline and Artie,…

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