Thursday, March 12, 2020

Calling Vivid Images to Mind

As a three-year old, my parents took me to a co-op nursery school in Garrett Park, Maryland, which was in walking distance of our house. Moms (I don't remember dads) helped the professional child care workers staff the one-room school.

I remember the pineapple/orange juice combo and graham crackers, and my mother standing at the edge of the room. She wore a pair of red plaid capris -- except they were called petal pushers back then.

The only other conscious memory is Danny F. crawling with a box on his head so he could knock down piles of blocks (a.k.a. castles) other children had built. We later went to the same high school, and I reminded him of his feats. He grinned, but had no other comment.

Lately I've been making a list of indelible memories. It occurred to me that something that rattled around in my brain for decades had to have stayed there for a purpose. In other words, can I use one of those memories in a book? No identifying block busters or others, of course.

A few other recollections are:
  • Encouraging a younger brother to ride down the stairs from the second floor to the first in a box. And earning one of the rare spankings my mother provided.
  • Siting with my dad when he came home from work, trying to convince him that he would rather have a new friend than one million dollars. He said it would be a tough decision.
  • Thinking about a fifth-grade teacher who noted that some girls who attended Mass at the beach (probably Ocean City, MD) wore raincoats because under the coat they had on shorts. The scandalized teacher reported this to the parish priest at the beach. One could say the teacher had 1950s standards, but when I relayed the story to my mother, her take was that God was happy to have the girls in church.
  • Picking up a dead fish from a creek, and crying when my dad washed my hands with some beer, because we had finished the iced tea my parents had also brought. (Though I was about four, to this day, I hate the smell of beer.)
  • Getting tears in my eyes after answering a question wrong in third grade -- I was usually right. (Note to self: could be a topic for a therapist.)
  • Being in stores with my mom and younger sister and having strangers tell Mom how beautiful my blue-eyed, curly haired sister was. And feeling pride rather than jealousy, because she was, and she was ours.
The list is much longer. I would encourage other writers to dig deep for similar memories. If you kept a journal from childhood, you probably have the ideas recorded. I didn't start until my late 20s, and I've been sporadic,
Is this important? No, but it does keep you writing when you're stalled.
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