Saturday, March 11, 2006

Memories ...

From an Exercise at my F2K group on Yahoo:

"Try to identify your earliest childhood memory. Write down everything you can remember about it. Rewrite it as a scene. You may choose to do this from your current perspective or from the perspective you had at that age."

Unfortunately, I have never had a good memory - at least as far as my childhood is concerned. Most of my memories from childhood are snippets of happenings, none of them of any great length, many of them of no obvious importance.

For instance, I can remember clearly my sister and I trudging downstairs in the wee hours of many a winter morning, going around to the hall, where the heater was, and curling up on the tile floor.

She and I would fall asleep there, to the hiss, rattle, and hum of that heater, while being kept nice and warm, too. Inside, there was a light or two - maybe a pilot light, or the oil burners, I don't know - and I remember watching the lights until I fell asleep. My Dad would invariably come out of the bedroom to use the bathroom, find us there, and carry us back up to bed.

Yet my memories of that remain fragmented and a touch hazy.

I remember a Christmas morning, very early, when Dad came to fetch my sister and I. We weren't allowed to go downstairs on Christmas morning until Dad or Mom came for us. That was the rule! After all, Mom and Dad had to wake up a little, and while Dad came for us, Mom was making a pot of coffee. And that's something I appreciate as an adult! But, the rule was to stay upstairs until the Folks come getcha.

By that time, my sister and I had already dug the goodies from our stockings - finding the obligatory undies, of course! - and were more than ready for the main course! I don't remember Dad coming up, but he did. I do remember hearing a tiny "toot" from outside the room. Dad sent my sister down by herself - she was a year older than me, and I guess she was more trustworthy than I - and then nudged me out the door.

The only lights downstairs on a Christmas morning were the ones from the tree. So I headed down the stairs that were bathed in the multi-colored splendor of Christmas lights, hearing an odd "toot" and a "huff! huff!" sound, too!

I remember getting half-way down the steps, and looking to the right, where the tree stood in front of the living room window. A tiny light was traveling around the tree! The light was on the front of a black something that puffed a tiny amount of smoke into the air. And then it "Tooted"! I remember stopping on the steps and watching the train travel around the tracks that Dad had laid around the base of the tree the night before. (Of course Santa had done that!) It was actually mesmerizing.

"Huff-puff-huff-puff-TOOT!-huff-puff-huff-puff!"

That was my first, and only, train set. But my memories of it are foggy at best. Christmases were a good time for me, but, again, the memories are in fragments, from many times. I remember my sister, little brother, and I laying on the floor, with our heads under the Christmas tree, looking up through the branches. Watching the lights, smelling the pine. We would squint our eyes to make the sight a blur, thus creating a new look above us.

I remember our Aunts Connie and Geraldine, who lived down in Philly. Dad would drive down and pick them up, bring them to our house for the Holiday. Then he'd drive them home again that night. They lived a good 45 minutes to an hour away. I never appreciated what a chunk of the day that was. And Dad did that on most every Holiday. For family on my Mom's side. We liked having Connie and Geraldine there, us kids, because they were funny old ladies.

Geraldine would bring her ukuleles with her, and play and sing. She'd show us how to play them, and teach us a few simple songs, and we'd all strum the ukes and sing. Sometimes Geraldine would get up and do a little Hula dance, while she strummed and warbled a song.

Now, Geraldine was a short, round woman who wore pillbox hats, and gloves. Our version of the Queen Mother, I suppose. She was a sweet, funny woman. Connie was nice, but had the gravelly voice of a chain-smoker – which she was – and was short and wizened. She was nowhere near as fun as Geraldine.

My sister and I both were given a ukulele by Geraldine. We don't have them anymore, of course – that was more than thirty years ago! – but I finally bought a pair late last year. One for me, and one for my sister. I'm gonna send hers to her when it's close to her birthday. I know she'll remember!

I have a tiny memory of when my brother was born. I can recall standing at the top of the stairs as Dad guides Mom out the door, on the way to the car, to go to the hospital. I remember Nana standing at the bottom of the stairs. I can't remember where my sister was. I just remember the daylight streaming through the door as Dad and Mom head out. I was a few days shy of my fifth birthday. Leave it to my brother to screw things up, even from the very start! Is the memory real? Is it even close to how it happened? I simply don't know.

My sister and I would climb out my bedroom window, some nights, and lay on the garage roof, and watch the stars. If my Folks had known we were doing that, I doubt we'd have been able to sit for most of our childhood!

I remember the nice white wall in the hallway outside my sister's bedroom. The one that I carefully filled with drawings with a nice yellow crayon. What's a white surface for, after all? I remember getting in trouble, but have no memory of how that happened. Or even my age then.

See? Most of my childhood memories are either lost or so shuffled up that I can scarce retrieve them. I wish I could as some, that I can catch a glimpse of, are nice. But most are only sparked, in a foggy way, by photographs. Even hearing my Mom tell about us kids usually brings little memory to mind.

I think I just wasn't paying any attention when I was growing up. That's always been a problem for me, I think. I daydream, or I just get bored! So, now you have what little early childhood memories I feel like dredging up and writing down.

1 comment:

DragonT said...

benning! When were you here in my town!?? Great pic!