Many of us have memories of the various “firsts” in our lives. Some of those memories and events are quite mundane to the world in general but can have powerful emotional pull for us as individuals. I was blessed with great parents so my negative memories are mercifully few and none related to them. My negative memories were all of my own making and foolish decisions.
My first Christmas memory was when I was about 4 I would reckon. We lived in a duplex on Monticello in Oak Cliff. I got a train set. It was the old fashion kind made out of really heavy metal. It had an engine and several cars and my dad had it all set up when I came down stairs that morning. I loved running that train round and round and in a figure eight. That was all the track I had. I am sure they are all wireless these days but then it had a big box with wires to the track and a switch that controlled the amount of electric juice to the track that controlled the speed.
I do remember my first day at school when I was allowed to go home by myself. Mom had walked me there and picked me up for a few days. School was about a mile or so from home. That first time I decided to walk home with a buddy. I said we went this way and he said another. After a few blocks I realized I was wrong and headed into a strange neighborhood. We backtracked to school and started over. He was right about the direction. Good lesson in humility at an early age. Mom was waiting for me at the corner off Edgefield and our street.
When I started to school it was from our first house that we owned. It was on Savoy street in a neighborhood where the developer had served during the War. Most of the streets were named after battle sites in Italy and north Africa–Bizerte, Anzio, Salerno etc. Dad and mom were really proud of that house. Today it would be considered very lower middle class at best. It was two bedrooms, one bath and maybe 900 square feet at most. It had one of those faux fireplaces in the living room. The were popular then to give the house an upscale look. It had an inset in the wall and a very small mantle over it. In the inset we had a gas space heater with the fake logs. I am sure today they would not meet code. The gas line was just an exposed hose running from the gas outlet to the heater. You turned the knob to let the gas flow and lit it with a match. We thought it was top drawer. On winter days if you got within a few feet of it you could feel the warmth. Once my brother got too close and caught his pjs or robe on fire. But not to worry his yelps brought rescue quickly.
First car with air conditioning was probably our ’56 Chevy. Prior to that all the cars had vents in the front fender panels you could open to let in the air on your legs and all the cars had small windows on the driver side and passenger side to adjust the air flow from outside on hot days and there were many of those. First car with automatic transmission was I think the Chrysler New Yorker, a ’49 model. That was also quite an advance at the time and the auto manufacturers had special catchy names for their transmissions, like “Powerglide”. My first car and even second car were still manual transmissions. The old Ford convertible, a ’46 model I got in 7th grade and then a maroon Buick. The Buick transmission was funky. I had to hold it in place for second gear or else it would slip out every time. So sometimes my start from a red light was a bit awkward. You guys know how to hold the clutch just right at a light on a hill so the car doesn’t roll back? Each clutch was a bit different and you had to adjust the pressure on the pedal. My wife’s first car was a ’54 Chevy with auto transmission. She had it in high school and we were still driving it when I started law school. It was some kind of rosy and cream color. First car with seat belts would have been the Ford station wagon I suppose in early ’70’s. The Volkswagons in the ’60’s for sure didn’t have them, the Karman Ghia, the van and two bugs.
I must be wearing you out. I’ll hang it up for now. Maybe more memories another day.
Nothing is more important than family. It is the tie that binds.