Memories That Endure

We all experience much in life on a daily basis. So many things happen to us and we do a lot everyday if you think about it. As the decades roll by it is curious why some of those memories stick with us more than others. I have had lots of interesting things, joyous moments, scary times and exhilarating episodes but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of them have been lost in the mist of time and the memory. Others remain so clear I can conjure up the weather, smells, smiles and tears of specific events. Some of them are not really that important at all but they stick in the mind and won’t go away like that rattle in your car you have tried to find for months.

My earliest memory is of my da.d coming home for leave from the war. I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time but I have the distinct memory of being in my playpen and seeing my dad in a uniform (Navy). I cried because Mom was leaving with Dad. I am sure they weren’t gone more than 24 hours together but I had to stay with my grandmother and I can recall being very upset about that. I don’t remember the hugs my Dad gave me although I know he did. I don’t recall him coming home with Mom from San Francisco when he was discharged in late 1945 but I do remember the duplex we lived in for a while. We moved a lot those first few years after the War probably a function of money needs and the effort of Mom and Dad to “move up” in the world. I do remember the first house we bought when I was six. It was two bedrooms and one bath, a wood frame house. We had a big back yard and a detached garage. No trees in the neighborhood; it was a classic tract house built in that era for veterans. I can even remember the old Victorola player in the garage. I have no idea where it came from. It had one of those cranks on the side to wind it up to play a record. Don’t I wish I still had that now. It was just gone at some point.

I don’t remember my first grade teacher’s name but I can remember what she looked like. The school was brand new. One of the many built at that time to accommodate all the kids being born after the War. The principal was a man and he had a Phd. The same man ended up being the principal at my high school a few years later. Almost all the principals then were men and they had advanced degrees. I never heard of a female principal then. I can recall getting our polio vaccinations at school. We were all lined up and nurses came to administer the shots. It was a big deal. I remember my Mom making me come in to rest during the summer because she was afraid I would get polio in the heat. I have no idea where she got that idea but that was the common belief at that time. Then in the early ’50’s we got our dog tags at school. Just like the soldiers had. We guys thought that was really cool. It had our name and other info on it. That only lasted a year or two. We were supposed to wear them all the time in case of a nuclear attack by the Commies. I distinctly recall the drills we had to do in class and in the halls in the event of an attack. We were taught to dive under our desks if it was sudden, against the walls if there was a bit more time, and if there was an air raid warning we went to the halls and got on the floor with our heads against the lockers and our feet toward the middle of the hallway. I have no idea why it was that precise but it was.

I don’t really remember that many Christmases or birthdays. I remember them being fun but can’t really remember any particular gifts except a couple. I remember the Lionel train I got when I was about 5 for Christmas one year and I remember my tenth birthday when I got my 410 shotgun from Sear and Roebuck. I do remember all the store windows being decorated and having toys, Santas and reindeer in them. I loved going to just look at the windows of all the big stores. Then there were no strip centers or shopping malls, everything was essentially down town.

When I was small we would ride our bikes around the neighborhood and look for fruit trees in the late spring and early summer. We would use the fruit that fell over the fences as missiles to throw at each other. On occasions we would be very daring and actually hop over a fence to get some of the fruit and then right back as quick as we could so we won’t get caught. The figs and peaches made the best weapons. Even thought cars and trucks abounded there were still wagons with mules that would come to the neighborhood about twice a week with fruits and vegetables. I don’t know if that was peculiar to our neighborhood or not. I recall it seemed very old fashioned even to me at the time.

We kids liked to listen to the stories of the old man who lived in the neighborhood, next door to me in fact. He dressed very old style, string bow tie, white coat in summer and hat and cane. He even had one of those goatees. It and his hair was all white. He was at least 90 something then and would sit on the front porch in good weather for hours. He would tell us stories on the old west and we loved it. I don’t know if his stories were all true of course but I was fascinated by them. Indians, cowboys, and then WWI and what things were like then. He had lived in our town since right after the War Between the States.

Those are only a few memories of the zillion little memory bytes buzzing in my head but to think of all those that can’t be retrieved. Perhaps more another day.

You will have regrets in life, but nevertheless you should try each day to live in such a way to avoid the those rash comments that cause them. You know how to do that in your life better than me.

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Filed under Culture, family, history

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