Monday, February 21, 2022

Misty Watercolored MEM'REEES...

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Last week, as I was walking the dogs across the frozen, barren landscape that is Maine in February, I thought, I miss southern springs. I lived in DC as a young woman, and visited my family in Alabama over the years, and I have a visceral memory of the perfect, soft air in Tuscaloosa this time of year, with the greenery and flowers already growing. Despite being born in about as northerly spot as you can get in the US (the then-Air Force base at Plattsburgh, NY,) I spent my first seven years in much warmer climates - Alabama, Rome, Baltimore and then back to Alabama before heading to Germany.


Then I thought, what do I remember about the springs of my childhood? And the answer is… not much. Which turned my mind to the question of my earliest memories. Yes, this is the surprise topic twist! I have to think very hard in order to ignore the icy winds on my chilled cheeks during the dog walks. 


Julie, Barbie and Mom (who sewed the dresses.)

Ross used to tell me he could remember events from when he was eighteen months old, but I’m much more typical. My very first memory is meeting my new sister when I was three and a half. It’s astonishingly complete - the white woven bassinet, the light filtering through the gold-colored woven curtains in my parent’s bedroom, the slick feel of their coverlet (I got to hold Barb very carefully while sitting on the bed.) Then she disappears for a few years until popping up again in one of my few Baltimore memories: we were taking our nightly bath together and she had a tick on her back!


(A side note for our younger readers: yes, believe it or not, in the mid-sixties a tick in Maryland was a rare thing. Also, she got it because we were allowed to free-range roam all over the neighborhood, and we had spent the afternoon in a local swamp. Which was probably also a toxic waste dump, this being the mid-sixties)


Other than Barb’s arrival, I have nothing from my first years in Alabama. Nothing from Rome. My only other memories of Baltimore are of sitting in circle with my “boyfriend” Alan and the teacher telling me to stop hugging him. But I can recall the exact page, typography and all, that I first read by myself in her classroom: THE FAT CAT SAT ON THE MAT. (No pictures! This was a serious reading book, designed to make us proficient early readers and grow up to beat the commies in the space race.)


 

How about you, Reds? What are your earliest memories? And does everyone have an earworm from the song I referenced in today’s title?


RHYS BOWEN: I have very clear memories from an early age. Maybe this was because I was born in the middle of WWII and there was an atmosphere of tension in the air. I remember the sound of the air raid siren, in fact it still quickens my heart rate today. And searchlights in the sky still freak me out. I was only once taken down to the backyard shelter and had such an awful panic attack I was never taken there again. (But I’ve had claustrophobic dreams since). I remember clearly my grandmother’s living room, sometimes cooking a meal over the open fire because the gas had been turned off. And the blackout curtains. And the drone of planes coming nearer.  I also remember playing endless games of pretend with my blind great aunt. I was the good fairy and she was the bad witch. I was the good princess and she was the evil queen.  It took me a while to realize that in life one can’t always be the heroine!

 

I can remember making potions from flowers in the garden–the unpleasant smell of marigold petals and once I picked up our new puppy and he peed all over my dress. And we looked after a cousin’s cat and it escaped. And I had a doll in green velvet called Kathleen. And a baby doll I called La Baby (and I fed her puffed wheat into her china head). 

 

I had imaginary friends called The Gott Family: Gorna Gott, Leur Gott, Goo Goo Gott and Perambulator Gott. They did everything with us. (You can tell I had no real children to play with!


Life changed when my father came home from the war when I was three, so this all happened very early in my life. I still have a book of drawings I did at that time– I recorded all the exciting events–a visit to the zoo, a fairground, my first movie, Christmas, the street party when the war ended. They are all there in childish rendition but quite recognizable.


Hallie, plotting against an oblivious Amy

HALLIE EPHRON: So fascinating, Rhys and Julia! As for me, I have one very early memory of looking out through the bars of a crib in my childhood bedroom. Next up I remember my mother asking me to watch my infant sister for two minutes while she went to the bathroom. I was sitting on the couch and I think Amy was lying on the couch beside me. I must have been four. Before my mother returned, Amy had rolled onto the floor. Just the first of many times when I tried (unsuccessfully) to kill her.

 

JULIA: Hallie, same here. I don't remember it, but my mom liked to tell of the time she was cooking in the kitchen and I came in and said, "The baby's crying." She turned around, and I had brought Barb with me...by wrapping my arm around her neck and dragging her across the floor.  I sometimes think its a miracle we're such great friends now. 

 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I do remember…looking through the bars of my crib at a huge giraffe (life size? Or at least wall-size) my artist mother had painted on the wall. The giraffe’s name was Jih. (You can imagine how that came about.) I can still see it. I also had a pink music box that was shaped like a radio, a big boxy thing on the dresser. And a music box with  a spinning ballerina, which, thinking back now, may have played The Dance of  the Sugar Plum Fairy.


Tiny Hank, reporting from the beach.

I also remember walking on the shore of Lake Michigan with my father, I was just so little, toddling, maybe three? And there was a carpet of dead alewives in front of us. I mean, I remember it as billions of dead fish. I can honestly see it now. I burst into tears, and leaped into my father’s arms–I was NOT going to walk through the dead fish.

He made me do it, saying they were dead and could not hurt me. (Let me tell you instantly, there was no one more gentle and loving than my dad.) I was hysterical, but he made me do it. (My stomach is hurting, telling you this.)

 

Years later, SO many years later, he asked me if I remembered that. I said I did, although I toned down how terrified I’d been.

He told me that it had haunted him ever since, and he apologized, saying it was the worst decision he’d ever made as a parent, and that he was only trying to keep me from being afraid.

 

JULIA: Oh, Hank. What a sweet confession to make. Everyone who's a parent makes one or two dreadful mistakes, but it takes real guts to admit it and apologize. 


Lucy and sister Susan, looking v. stylish

LUCY BURDETTE: The trouble is, it’s hard to sort out what I really remember from the stories I was told or the photos I’ve seen. When I was born, my family lived in a little white cape home up on a hill. It was only one bedroom and my sister’s crib (11 months old when I was born!) was out in the hall, so mine joined hers. (Could I really remember that?) We used to watch my father shovel coal from where it was delivered into the basement to heat the house. One day my sister and cousin convinced me to take a drink out of a pipe up the hill. It turned out to be kerosene–I remember being fed Ipecac so I’d throw up. (Of course, that’s the wrong thing to do…). Is it possible I remember that, or was it what shrinks call a ‘screen memory’? I have no idea!


JENN McKINLAY: I don’t know if it’s my earliest memory, but it’s certainly vivid. I was in my crib and my brother helped me escape by showing me how to climb out. I have no doubt shenanigans were involved. They were always involved when we were on the loose. 

The original Hooligans!

We had a gloriously free range childhood in the seventies and spent most of it outdoors running wild. I think that’s why I value my daily walks with my dogs so much. It reminds me of what it felt like to be free from obligations and to go wherever the mood led us, whether it was along the banks of the river, up the mountain, or into the village to buy candy. I try to walk different paths every day with the dogs so that it feels more like those childhood adventures and I’ve discovered so many wonderful things like the neighbor who gives out lemons, a little free library, massive grass carp sunning themselves in the canal, and all sorts of birds in the nearby pond. I feel like my brother would approve. 

Nice nod to CATS, but I hear Barbra Streisand singing it in my head – where it will replay all day, thank you very much.


Don't eat anything bigger than your upper body, Debs!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Thanks for the earworm, Julia! My very earliest memory–I think–is of playing with my stuffed animals in my crib when I was supposed to be taking a nap. My crib was in the room I shared with my grandmother, which became my bedroom until I was grown up and moved away from home. I can see it perfectly, the crib on the west wall, where I could see the tops of the trees that surrounded our backyard. 


In the next memory, I’m in our den and it’s cold. There’s a fire in the fireplace and I’m coloring next to the hearth. I’m wearing my favorite green corduroy overalls and my grandmother is there. Another time, I think I remember being put on my dad’s big horse, Midnight, but that may be one of those “photo transfer” memories.  

 

JULIA: Now it's your turn, dear readers. What are your earliest childhood memories? And for those of you too young to recall the song from the title, please enjoy Barbra Streisand in all her 1973 glory, singing The Way We Were:


 

 





 

92 comments:

  1. Earliest memories? I’m uncertain as to whether I remember something because I truly remember it or because I’ve been told about it/seen pictures of it, but my earliest memories are of having pictures taken when we were around three years old. Jean and I together [of course] having pictures taken in the front hall of my grandmother’s house where we happily smiled. [I should tell you that we each had a cookie in our hand . . . childhood bribery at its best!]. I remember being fussed over at a photographer’s studio [there was a lot of “oh, look . . . twins in the early years of our lives . . . you’d think none of the adults had ever seen twins before!

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    1. ... and your parents survived! ONE baby is a challenge. I can't even imagine what two would be like. I wonder, do you find that you and Jean have similar memories (or is it as if you were living in alternate universes?)

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    2. We have pretty similar memories, Hallie . . . .

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    3. Oooh, Joan, that gives me an idea for a mystery - what if you had two adult twins, who are comparing memories about an important childhood event, and they each have totally different recollections...

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    4. That could be really interesting, Julia . . . .

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  2. I love these! I remember the scent of the sweet peas my mother grew in the back yard of our first house. I remember being all dressed up at about four. I was going to be on a TV show in Hollywood, and I was waiting in the driveway, but I was so excited I peed in my pants. On Christmas Eve (and every Sunday after church) we would go to our grandparents a few towns away. My grandfather could do magic tricks, like pull a nickel or a wrapped stick of gum out from behind your ear. We would write wishes for Santa on a piece of tissue paper and he would make them disappear up the chimney. I can still smell my grandmother's silver cigarette lighter.

    We moved to a bigger house two blocks away later that year, and I got to sit on the tailgate of the station wagon full of stuff (four kids made for a lot of stuff) as Daddy drove slowly to the new place. It had a bigger back yard and we were free range with a group of kids on the block.

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    1. Edith, I like the way smell is wound around your memories. I remember catching a whiff of some old lady scent - Bluegrass, maybe? - and being instantly transported to my grandmother's bathroom.

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  3. Oh, my. I was laughing so hard at Hallie and Julia as tiny (and ineffective) babysitters, and then sobered right up at Hank's dad's tearjerking apology.

    Joan, twins are always special! People always thought my sister and I were twins because my mom dressed us the same. Which was bizarre. She's two years younger, and had white blonde hair to my brown. Blue eyes to my green. Sometimes adults don't think clearly.

    I think my earliest memory is when I was about two. It had to be, because we moved into my grandparents' old house when my sister was an infant. I can remember being in the living room of our upstairs apartment, but no memory of what I was doing.

    It's much clearer when I was in the hospital with pneumonia a few months later (they found out when they took me to the doctor for blood poisoning for some cut or other). I have a very clear picture of being in a crib in a big, mostly empty room. If there were other children in the room they were too sick to make any noise. It was summer, and there were no blankets or toys in the crib. So boring!

    I have lots of memories of living in that house, including of our boxer, Pinky, who lived chained out in the backyard, and of the ice cream man walking behind his cart, ringing the bell.

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    1. Karen, it doesn't surprise me your first detailed memory is of your stay in hospital. I've read the first memory to last is often a big change event (thus so many of us having first memories of the arrival of siblings.)

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    2. How interesting, Julia! And yes, it was traumatic. I can remember so vividly wondering where my mother was, and why I was left there alone.

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  4. I have lots of memories tied to the house we lived in when I was four and five, which was in Lynchburg, VA, but only a few from the house before that, in Charlotte, NC, when I was three. I was a Daddy's girl then, because my sister had been born and needed a lot of my mother's time, so I often "helped" Papa in the garden. One of my earliest memories is sitting (or maybe even lying) in the grass next to his asparagus bed and just staring at those single green asparagus growing straight out of the dirt, one stalk after another in a row. I remember being fascinated by them, because they came out of the ground in such a strange way, all alone like that.

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    1. Asparagus are amazing Kim, I love that memory

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    2. Oh my gosh, that is mesmerizing. What an image.

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    3. We're ALL putting it in our books...

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    4. I know, right? It's such a lyrical childhood memory.

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    5. Thanks, everyone. I'm touched by your enjoyment of my asparagus moment.

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  5. REDS: Those are great early memories! Some of them makes me glad I am an only child. :-)

    I don't have any crib memories but when I was 4, we went to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan for two reasons. We were going to the wedding of my mom's younger brother. And I got to meet my parental grandparents and maternal grandfather for the first time.

    So I remember the plane trip(s) from Toronto-Vancouver-Tokyo. I got motion sick and threw up. I also remember crying when the Japanese border agent in Tokyo took my stuffed toy out of my carry-on bag. It was a Japanese animated pet popular in cartoons that was given to me on my first birthday by my maternal grandfather.

    On a happier note, I also do remember being spoiled rotten while I was there, My maternal grandfather carried me on his shoulders and took me to the nearby local store to buy me chocolate-covered raisins.

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    1. Ugh, paternal...not parental grandparents!

      And this was my Japanese stuffed animal:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doraemon_%28character%29#/media/File:Doraemon_character.png

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    2. HANK: Oh yes, because I made such a fuss, the border agent returned it to me pretty quickly!

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    3. NEVER mess with the stuffie! I imagine the border agent was a dad himself, Grace, and realized his mistake pretty quickly. Also, I went from the wiki page you gave us to "Doraemon plush toys" and they're SO cute!

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    4. JULIA: Exactly! Good thing he only examined Doraemon and did not try to cut her open.
      And you could me curious, so I looked up the plush toys. Doraemon is still a very popular anime character in Japan so there is definitely a lot more toys to choose from than 55 years ago.

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  6. Wonderful memories, Reds.

    I have a very filmy recollection of looking out the windows of the apartment we lived in during the Blizzard of '77 in Western New York and not being able to see much because it was glazed with ice - but I don't know if that is real. Fast-forward to pre-kindergarten. I am wearing a checked dress (ah, children's clothes in the 70s) and playing with my friend Lynn on a blue carpet. I'm still friends with Lynn.

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  7. I remember a vivid red climbing rose next to the back steps in full and glorious bloom. Mom told me it was in celebration of my June birthday.

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  8. My earliest memory is of being in my crib having been put down for a nap. Mom had a visitor and I could hear them talking. I was not tired and was furious, calling and calling for her to come get me out. I must have been really young because the year I was 3, we moved to Tucson, Arizona for my mother's health and I remember all kinds of things from that year. (My brother is 13 months older and was a holy terror.) We were in nursery school and we took a field trip to a beautiful place with wildflowers. I was enchanted. I'd never seen blue flowers like the ones we saw that day.

    One more memory from Tucson, Old Tucson days was a huge celebration with a parade and rodeo. My brother, dad and his friend and daughter climbed up into the bleachers. My mom and her friend and I sat on street level, my mom couldn't climb bleachers. Hopalong Cassidy rode his horse in the parade. My mom's friend grabbed my hand and took me over to meet him and pet his horse. (We listened to his radio program all the time.) It was thrilling!

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    1. Judy, I got to see Hopalong Cassidy when I was a child, too! I must have been four or five when he came to Hamilton, Ohio, of all places.

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    2. And isn’t that just the silliest name?

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    3. Judy, it's fascinating you recall the emotions associated with your earliest memories. I don't seem to have laid down those tracks until several years later, when I was in school.

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    4. Ooh, lucky! I was a Roy Rogers fan and got cheated out of shaking his hand at the rodeo. Dad was afraid I'd be trampled by the other kids. But big brother got to. Not fair.

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    5. Karen, my brother and I were such fans. I remember lying on the hallway floor under the radio and listening to the heroic actions of Hoppy and his friends. When I met him, he was so good natured, he chuckled that I just wanted to pet his horse.
      Yes, Hank. I wonder who thought up that silly name.
      Julia, I remember the emotions associated with almost all of my memories. It's fascinating to me that you have memories of events and don't recall how you felt at the time. Interesting.

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  9. I am sitting now remembering then. Our first and only dog, a Cocker Spaniel, bought for my sister's 4th (?) birthday. My dad making an outdoor pen for him out of chicken wire. Boy was so tiny then that he walked right through it. I remember going to the art museum for children's movies. Staring at a Buddhist statue of Avalokiteshvara (the embodiment of compassion) shown in the form of a Goddess with 1000 hands. The bronze was on a pedestal right at my eye level, all of the heads and eyes looking right at me. I was imprinted with that image. Like Julia I remember learning to read. My first word was Hiawatha. Not Longfellow's Hiawatha, Disney's. It was a Sunday comic strip, and I learned to read the words upside down because I wanted to know what the adventure would be before my Dad read to us. My Seattle Springs were mostly wet (of course) but beautiful with fields of daffodils, and flowering Japanese cherries. Soft wet air, filled with sweetness.

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    1. You wanted to know the ending! I love that!

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    2. CORALEE: Hiawatha is an impressive first word!

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    3. Yes, it is more impressive than "oh look see Spot, see Spot bite Sally"

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    4. It beats my cat on a mat by a long mile, Coralee! No wonder you became such a passionate reader.

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  10. My 2 great grandmothers died 2 weeks apart, at about the same time my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister, so I was about three and a half. I'm pretty sure it was my grandmother's mother's funeral and I remember her being surrounded by flowers. This memory was reinforced a bit later when I told a friend that my "grandmother had died lying on the couch." Just a normal conversation between little kids.

    But it must have been at that time that my grandparents had a new septic tank put in. Did I see the hole? I am not sure, but for years and years I was very careful to walk around that area, instead of stepping on it. I knew in my head that my great grandmother was not buried there. Hadn't I gone to Glens Falls cemetery with all the others? But even a very little kid knows that you can't be too careful.

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    1. Oh, poor little thing… All those memories tangled up together…xx

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    2. Oh my, that possibility must have haunted you, Judi. Death is hard even for us grownups. One minute they're there, and the next...

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    3. Judi, are you from my part of the world? My family home town is about a half hour north east of Glens Falls: Argyle, NY.

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    4. It is only within the last year that I have even mentioned that old phobia. Things that happen when we are very young can have lasting importance, even if we misunderstood it all back then.

      No, Julia, I'm not from that area although that is where my great grandmother was from and where my grandmother grew up. I still have second cousins and more there.

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    5. Who knows, Judi, we may be related!

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  11. Most of my clearest memories are when I was 3-1/2 to 4 years old. My next brother down from me is 2 years younger and he was a chubby blonde-haired, blue-eyed cheerful little guy. I loved his antics and was always telling my mom to come see: "He's taken his shoes and socks off, isn't he cute," sort of thing. My father belonged to an old-time Baptist church, with hell-fire and brimstone preaching. Once my toddling brother climbed up on the coffee table and began preaching. My mom and I laughed ourselves silly. No photos or video of that moment, alas.

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    1. Flora, I'm not much of a photo taker, and I'm convinced the memories you keep of moments are much better than any picture.

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  12. Lots of memories here. My first memory is taking the train from Berkeley, CA to Los Angeles, CA (in those days it was possible) with my parents to visit my grandfather. I think it was a month before my second birthday. Another memory was sitting on a high stool and taking paper napkins from the counter then throwing them on the floor. Someone who looked like Bertie? Ernie? from Sesame Street was scolding me. Which puppet is the serious fellow from Sesame Street? That was my grandfather's brother in law. This was right after I lost my hearing. I remember a family friend bringing over his 12 year old son when I was 3 years old and he knew Sign Language. They visited our house and my family dog was barking at us. He signed that the dog was barking at us. I remember people who communicated with me in Sign Language.

    Diana

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    1. Oh, Diana, that's amazing. Children have so much language acquisition by the time they're three, and then to turn around and have to learn a new language...

      And yes, the Very Serious muppet is Bert, who is always worried something might go wrong.

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    2. Julia, thanks for reminding me about Bert. I thought he was so funny. Perhaps my learning Sign Language so early helped me learn French when I was a teenager. It was fun for me to learn new languages from French to Norwegian to Spanish. My great grandparents could speak, read and write in seven languages including English.

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    3. Oh, I'm so jealous. And yes, I bet that did help you with later languages. I've heard bilingual children take to new tongues more quickly than the rest of us.

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  13. Lots of memories, in no particular order:

    My great grandmother lying in her casket in the living room. I was curious to get a better look but was too small to see over the edge -- about four

    Looking at the lights on the Christmas tree and hearing my grandmother tell my mother that I couldn't see yet, wouldn't be able to for several weeks. How is this memory possible? So clear tho. I was about three weeks old.

    I was born during WWII also, Rhys and I being of an age. I remember taking the train from the Midwest to Plattsburg, then a naval station. Was about 2-3. It was winter, and the snow on either side of the sidewalk was taller than I was.

    Going out with my grandmother to put up the flag, every single day, and pledging allegiance to the flag and to the Republicans, for which it stands. Apocryphal?


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    1. Ann, what interesting memories - and yes, I've heard of a few people being able to remember things from birth on. Amazing.

      If your grandfather was a huge Wendall Wilkie supporter, it's not surprising you remember the pledge as being to the Republicans!

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    2. Not even one Republican in my background. My grandmother was chair of the county Democratic Committee.

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  14. I remember the house we lived in when I was three. The backyard was huge! We had a swing set and a large square wading pool with seats in the corners of the metal frame. If I went in that yard today, it will probably look much smaller. When we move southern California for eighteen months, I remember having to walk through an invasion of snails after a very extremely rain to get to school and being terrified I would be in trouble for crossing the street before the crosswalk to get to school. A tree fell across the sidewalk and street so I had to go around it by crossing early but I just remember thinking I would get in trouble.

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    1. An invasion of snails! I'd probably have turned around and told my mother I couldn't go to school that day, Deana.

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  15. I love reading all the memories and notice how often siblings are there.I don't even remember life without my sister. We are only 14 months apart. I was 3 1/2 when my brother was born, which is a great marker for dating the memories I have. Was he there or not? (Yes, my parents had 3 kids in 4 years. There is a reason they call it the post-war baby boom) In NY in the post-war housing shortage, surplus military quonset huts were converted into apartments for vets, grouped into small developments.We lived there and we have one precious home movie to prove it but the very clear memory of my own is that we could look across the water (the Narrows, I think) and on a clear day, see the towers of Coney Island rides. We moved to a brand new housing project on the lower east side of Manhattan, when my brother was on the way. I remember being in a hall, at the elevator, waiting for something and lots of excitement. I suspect it was my mother bringing the baby home.Going across the hall to a friend to watch Howdy Doody on the (!!!) television.I must be among the last generation to remember life without tv. Being taken to see my on great-grandmother,before my brother was born, so I was about 3.It was dark in her room, and smelled funny, and I was scared. She died soon after. The sounds of the boat horns on the East River. When we moved again, to WAY upstate NY, we could hear trains. I thought they were the boats and wanted to know where the river was. Walking to school, and once going to an old synagogue for a holiday, alone with just my father. What a treat that was!

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    1. Triss, what beautiful childhood memories. We always think about what big historical times looked like to adults, and seldom how small children experienced them.

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  16. Jenn, I love that picture of you and Jed. I can see the mischief about to happen.
    I can remember playing with our mini dachshund Stubby. 2-3 years old? My grandparents were staying with us at Christmastime and Mom got me up in the middle of the night while Poppa went out to turn his car headlights on. It was snowing in Florida. Didn’t snow there again til I was 17.
    I remember very clearly my baby sister being brought home on my 5th birthday. I thought she was the best present ever. Then we fought like cats and dogs for 12 years. Now she’s my best friend.

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    1. Jennifer, that sounds like me and my sister. I literally dented a piece of drywall with her head as a teen (!) but now we talk on the phone almost every day. She's my best friend.

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  17. I have a number of happy memories from my earliest years. My very first memory, though, is of meeting my baby sister for the first time. I was not quite two. She was so beautiful and tiny! I somehow got it in my head that she was a gift to me from my parents, and I was enthralled. Then my dad pointed to my mom, who was sitting in a nearby chair, and told me that Mommy was there, too. It’s so funny that it apparently didn’t occur to me to say hello to her. I was just so excited about the baby! I think it’s interesting that although three more siblings were eventually born, I have the most vivid memories of the homecoming of this sister, and of our brother who was born two years later. Although I was older when the last two were born, and was quite excited about their births, I don’t remember them coming home from the hospital. (About a year after the last one was born, I told my mom that we should have another baby!)

    DebRo

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    1. Deb - what did your mother say? 'Cause I would have been, "Look, kid, five is more than enough!"

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    2. Basically, she said that we couldn’t afford it!!

      DebRo

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  18. What great memories! My youngest memories are vignettes. I remember crawling on a blue carpet. When I asked my mother about this years later she told me the only blue carpet we had was in the apartment where I was born. We moved from there when I was six months old. There are other flashes, but my coherent memories begin when I was 4 and we went to Florida for the first time to visit family. It was all so different to New Jersey that I think it branded itself in my mind. Including the ferry ride to Cuba!

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    1. Oh, yes, Kait, I imagine translating to Florida from New Jersey must have seemed like going to a different country, even without a trip to Cuba!

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  19. Perhaps my very earliest memory is standing on my tiptoes and reaching through the bars of my baby brother's crib to pinch him. He is 19 months younger and will tell you to this day that his older sister had it out for him from the beginning! I also have a clear memory of looking down at my sandbox in the yard and finding the bird's-eye view fascinating. At 2 years old, I had climbed out of my second floor bedroom window to a first floor roof! My parents heard a noise and came rushing into my room to see my little hand resting casually on the windowsill. I do remember their reaction and I think it contributed significantly to my fear of heights.

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    1. U.N., when we lived in Germany, married officers quarters were three story high apartment buildings, with a fourth attic story where every family had storage space. Kids used to run around playing in the attic. One day my then four-year-old sister climbed out of an open dormer window and was walking around the roof four stories up. I remember the absolute terror coming off my mom in waves as she stood in the street, trying to calmly get Barbie to stay put. One of the dad's raced upstairs, stepped out of the window, and snagged her. It remains one of the most powerful memories of my childhood, in part, I think, because at seven, I was old enough to understand what would happen if my sister fell.

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  20. Until was seven we lived on the third floor of house my maternal grandparents owned. My grandparents lived on the first floor, my aunt uncle and cousin on the second and we were on the third. I remember being three or four and my next youngest brother and I ( I am the eldest of eight children) would pour Gerber's baby oatmeal on the kitchen floor and "ice skate" in my father's wool socks. ( My mother let us live). I can remember my mother tapping on the radiator pipes to call us to supper from my grandparent's or aunt's house. My father would read to us each night from a series of children's books of knowledge - my favorite however was Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox from the book of Children's stories.

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    1. Christine, that sounds delightful - and your mother was a saint!

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  21. No no no. I don't need Barbra emoting in my head all day. I still remember seeing that movie! I have memories from the first house my parents bought in Houston. We lived there until I was four. I vividly recall lying on a small bed, supposedly to take my afternoon nap while Mom no doubt took a break from me. I don't know where big brother was. Anyway I was messing around with a penny, put it in my mouth, and accidently swallowed it. I was probably 2 or 3. I remember waiting for the popsicle truck to come around; I was bilingual. Dop dop was my name for both popsicles and pickles. I remember running down the street to catch up with Mom and my brother one Halloween night and dropping my grocery sack with my candy. I also played Superman, running down the sidewalk with my cape flaring out behind me. Actually it was a towel Mom pinned to my shoulders. George Reeves forever!

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    1. Pat, a lot of us have memories of that all-important popsicle/ice cream truck coming along our street. I wonder if they still exist? My kids grew up in the country, where, alas, population is too sparse to attract them.

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  22. Ha! Did I get my "Memory" song by Streisand mixed up? Yeah, so now we know how good my memory is. LOL. Amazing what everyone remembers or thinks they remember from childhood. The older I get the more I remember of my youth but I also wonder how reliable it is. Great concept/question for mystery writing!

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    1. Jenn, I just have to say every time I look at that picture of you and Jed, it makes me smile. The utter delight the two of you are taking in each other shines through.

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  23. A "sort of" memory I have was when I was 18 months old and developed blood poisoning. The doctor took tests and sent them to the lab which was in a city miles away. Then he suggested that he had received an experimental drug he could try while we waited for the lab results. My parents agreed since there was nothing else we could do. I had to be brought for a shot every morning for the week it took for the results to arrive. Don't worry about that little girl. She'll be dead by the time you receive this, they said. But of course, I was fine. (Though I cried every time we drove by that building......for years.) The experimental drug was penicillin. The first really clear memory was of arriving home after a church service. I stood in the living room hearing the radio announcer saying that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. I knew what a pearl was...but not a pearl harbor. No concept of what bombing meant. I soon found out. The memory of first books include a photographic picture book of Queen Mary's Doll House, and a children's version of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird of Happiness. Movies... first run Pinocchio, Bambi, Snow White, Lassie Come Home. Standing in long lines to get in to see them. In the lobby, a poster for Gone With The Wind, first run. There are many memories from age 3 and up.

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    1. Liane, what amazing memories! And it's startling to realize the amazing, life-saving advance of penicillin happened within living memory.

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  24. The first thing I think I remember may be a picture induced memory. We lived in Germantown, Kentucky (very small town)until we moved to Maysville (still small, but much larger than G-town) when I was two. There's a picture of me sitting in a little rocking chair holding my teddy bear, I feel like part of it is memory that I seem to remember sitting there and that it was in an upstairs bedroom. I also have a vague memory of being in the living room and seeing into the kitchen. We moved to Maysville when I was two, and not long after that someone broke into our house. I was in the hallway to the bedrooms in my crib, and I remember a sense of being in that crib and someone being in the hallway (the intruder). There are vague memories of the police being there, too, and my father dealing with them.

    Then, then when I was three, my family (parents, two older sisters, one older brother, and me) went to Ft. Meyers, Florida for a month or so. My father's doctor had suggested the climate would be good for my father's bronchial problems. I have several memories that seep in from that, including being an image of the house on the outside (a large craftsman style), being in the front yard and someone opening a coconut that had fallen from the large tree there. Then, there was a parade in town we all went to, and I remember being in the crowd with my sisters and when a Pepsi sign from a truck in the parade went by. My sisters said something about it being Pepsi, and I said the slogan at that time, but got it a little wrong, "Pepsi Cola hits the pot" instead of "Pepsi Cola hits the spot." And, I remember my sisters and some girls they were with laughing at that.

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    1. No, you were just prescient, Kathy: with the change in marijuana laws all over the country, pretty soon it WILL be "Pepsi-Cola hits the pot!"

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  25. Ah, Barbra. I never mind an earworm of her.

    My earliest memory is of sliding down a stair bannister in an old house. I was about 3 - ish. I don't actually remember it now, but I remember that long ago someone asked me the same question and I remembered it then. Does that count? That's it until I was about 6 and my sister was born. I don't remember much of her but I remember worrying about my mother being pregnant and in pain. Perhaps that is why I decided never to have kids!

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    1. I'm like you, CD - not very many memories before I got to school age. I remember my mom being pregnant with my little brother - I was under the impression her belly was going to open up like a Ziploc bag (which were a new exciting thing back then!)

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  26. I also have an early hospital moment, I remembered. I had a birthmark on my neck that was growing. When I was two they scotch-taped a piece of radium on it during several visits (gah, yes...). That stopped it growing, but when I was four they cut it out. I remember the ether or whatever over my nose and mouth and seeing black crows circling on a yellow sky!

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    1. Good lord, Edith, radium. Medicine does advance in fits and starts...

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    2. Also the era of radium boxes in shoe stores!

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    3. My doc is always careful to check my thyroid levels - the birthmark was near my thyroid gland.

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  27. Earliest memory. I’m going with the one that has some context as opposed to those earlier “moment in time” memories, such as lying in a crib or sitting on a swing.

    October 1954: I had just turned three, and we were living on an Air Force base northwest of Toronto. It was raining. And raining and raining! My mother was driving my older brother to Cubs, and I stood on the transmission hump holding on to the front seat (no kids’ car seats in those days!) and gazed out the window at a watery world. It was fabulous! Water was rushing through the ditches and parts of the street were flooded.

    “Can I go swimming in the ditch?” I asked. “No,” my mother responded. “The water is too cold.”
    “But water is always cold when we go swimming,” I said. I really didn’t see her logic!

    After dropping my brother off (“You can find your own way home; I’m not coming back out in this!” - no helicopter parents back then, either!) we went back home. We splashed to the house and found, crouched on the porch, a very soggy tabby and white cat. Of course my mother scooped her up and brought her inside. My next memory was my brother arriving home, and his begging to keep the cat. “She can stay one night,” my mother informed us firmly.
    I don’t remember much more from that night, but the cat was with us for 17 years. We named her Boots. We should have named her Hazel after the storm that washed her to our door.

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    1. What a wonderful memory, Lorie! And you're right - kids were left a lot more to their own devices in those days. I used to have a snack when I got home from school and then it was out for the rest of the afternoon - just come home when the volunteer fire department whistle blows at 6pm!

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  28. Julia, I always wondered how you ended up writing a series set in the Adirondacks, but you were close by when you were in Plattsburgh. My uncle Manny was the first commander of the Plattsburgh air base, built shortly after WWII at the height of the Cold War. He moved there with his family to superintend the construction of the base in the 1950s.

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  29. My earliest memory is going outside in the early springtime and being fascinated by the patches of snow. How did they appear? My mom stood in the doorway behind me and warned me to not get my new snowsuit dirty so I think I just stood in the white "clean" snow and looked around. We moved from that house when I was three so I must have been maybe 2 years old? Very vivid memory of being both mesmerized by the snow but nervous about the mud patches.

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  30. Ladies, your stories are so funny and not isolated! My niece asked her mother "how long her newborn sister was staying"
    I have vague memories of my early days. My memories really start when we moved to Baldwinsville in 1960 when I was 4.

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