As the man in charge of the four-year-old boys at the day camp (some summers they numbered as many as twenty-four) I divided the swimming class among my two counselors and myself. I took the boys that were closest to swimming, and among them was Clyde, a robust kid who still had his fear of the water.

I had taught him what we called the dead man’s float (face down in the water) and the back float (face up) and he was making progress with strokes, such as the Australian crawl (free style). One overcast day, when kids don’t like to swim, he did it for ten feet. Success!

He took it like a four-year-old — with a serious expression. I don’t know if he’ll even remember my name when he grows up, but I knew it was one of those unacknowledged joys of life.

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