I was the only kid I knew whose father had an alias. The utility bills came to our house addressed to Zbigniew Zaszewski, but my father's name was Edward Witecki. When I asked him about it, he said he bought our house in California a long time ago, after he'd escaped the Nazis in Germany. He'd used a different name back then; even though World War II was over, Nazis still hid everywhere. He kept the house under his alias because Nazis could hunt him down and kill him, even in a town as pretty and peaceful as ours.

This news led to a lot of restless nights for me. Every night my father came to check that the windows of my first-floor bedroom were locked; I would lie awake long after. But by the fall of 1989, when I started high school, I thought less about the Nazis. I had a lot of other stuff to worry about that fall, like being the only kid left in the house after the last of my siblings left for college. Then my father announced that a Nazi had moved in next door.