Memories - The Ones We Love to Remember
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years
Uncle Joe in His Youth
People We Remember
No matter who you are you have memories. I was struck by my memories when I read an article here by billybuc entitled "Friday Night in Smalltown America". Reading, I realized memories of where we lived and what we did as children live with us no matter where we grew up. Times change, people change, but our memories remain the same.
True there are people we remember that we may paint a bit differently than they actually were. For example, that wonderful Great Uncle Joe who was so good to us as a child but we learned later in life he was verbally abusive to his wife. In our memory he is still that sweet man who always paid attention to us when none of the other grown ups even knew we were in the room.
Then there is that nun we had in eighth grade. To us she was so tall, so tall as to be actually big, like a giant in black and white. She was nice but she could certainly be scary too. When we meet up with her some twenty years later we discover she's not so tall and daunting as we remember, but she is nice.
Memories of Pop Pop, our favorite grandparent. He took us everywhere and played with us when we were little. He was gentle and quiet but always there for us. We can remember him sitting at his front window with his little black dog in his lap. We didn't know when he married our grandmother he didn't want her teenage children in his house. That they had to move out and get their own apartment and yet he visits often and spends holidays with us. I guess those were things you didn't tell little children.
We remember Jack who owned the candy store. We stopped in his candy store after church every Sunday. Jack and Edith knew everything about everyone. After all, that was where you went to get a cherry coke or an egg cream. The grown ups ordered food too, but as children we were limited to sodas. That was where everyone bought the newspapers they didn't have delivered. Everyone talked to Jack and Edith giving them bits of information about all the lives in the neighborhood. They didn't gossip but kept their fingers on the pulse of their neighbors and what was happening.
Oh, and the soda man. He delivered soda and seltzer once a week right to your door. I used to love squirting the seltzer out of that special bottle! He was a nice man. Quiet by children's standards but there every week making his delivery no matter what the weather.
We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand
My husband in uniform, taken at Fort Dix
We all have special moments we remember, our first date, our wedding, the birth of our children, moments we hold dear to our hearts. There are others too though, simple little things that stay with us all our lives.
My father was a very special man and I have so many special memories of moments with him. I remember when I was young and wanted to go to the movies, of course I didn't want to take the bus so I asked Dad. He would stop whatever he was doing, he would even stop in the middle of painting, and take my girlfriends and I to the movies.
When my boyfriend (now husband) was in basic training in Fort Dix I wanted to go see him so badly. My Dad drove me from Queens to Fort Dix, New Jersey so I could visit for an hour or two. It was a three to four hour drive but my Dad didn't blink, he drove me there!
When I was in high school my french teacher (Sr. Mary Gilbert) said she needed a bookcase for her classroom. I told her my father would make it. I then went home and asked my father. Of course he made it and personally delivered it.
I remember a time in elementary school when our teacher (Sr. Maria Rosarita) left the room. Everyone started talking, getting out of their seats and having a grand old time. When she returned she asked who was talking. I stood right up then looked around and realized I was the only one standing. She knew, of course, I wasn't the only one so she marched me to her closet in the back of the room and told me to pick out whatever I wanted. I still have the plastic statue of the Virgin Mary sixty years later.
I remember riding home on the bus late after school one night. I looked out the window and said to my girlfriend that it looked awfully dark outside. She looked and said it did look darker than usual. It certainly was, it was the blackout of 1965, there were no lights. It was a neighborly time though. Everyone was out in the streets talking and socializing.
New York Street Games
Playing Stoop Ball
Memories of Childhood
We all have memories of our childhood, some good, some not so good. The fun we had playing silly games like hide and seek or ring-a-levio always sits in a corner of our mind. Outside with our friends, pressing our parents till the last minute before we had to go inside.
I grew up in Queens, New York and just about everyone had a stone stoop. It was great for playing stoop ball and a pink Spaldeen ball was the best because it had so much bounce! Just FYI it was actually Spalding but remember, we were from Queens. I can't imagine the number of hours spent throwing that ball. The best thing was you could play it alone, against another, or in teams though it was a little more difficult with teams.
Roller skating (on metal strap on skates) was a daily pass time. We'd skate up and down the streets and take sidewalk chalk to draw roadways, stores, and houses, on the street so we could skate around and in and out. Sometimes we'd play I Declare war on. It should be played on foot not on skates but those of us who skated so much did any way. Of course you always had a skate key to tighten your skates.
These were days when a neighborhood was a neighborhood. You knew everyone and everyone knew you. You didn't have to worry if little Johnny was outside playing because there were ten other kids playing with him and looking after him, not to mention the neighbor lady down the block who always watched out the window.
Does anyone remember the "vent" window on cars? It was a small, separate, triangular window that helped with air circulation. There was no air conditioning in cars when I was a girl (you can keep the "when I was a girl jokes to yourself please) so opening that little vent window let you get a bit more of a breeze.
What about a typewriter eraser? It looked like a pencil with a small brush on the end. You used the eraser to erase your mistakes then used the little brush to brush away any eraser "crumbles" left behind.
How about the drills to protect us from nuclear attacks? Looking back makes them even more hilarious. The drill would be all of the children getting under their desks for protection or sometimes being brought into the auditorium (which had windows near then ceiling) and kneeling down with our hands over our heads. I'm sure many things come to mind when thinking about those drills and not many of them are good. I mean really, how much protection from a nuclear attack was your hands over your heads?
I haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg. There are nickel pretzels and twenty-five cent movies, milk delivered to your house and walking to school then home for lunch and back to school. Staying after school till four or five o'clock to participate in sports or be a member of a club. Nobody's mother worked, well maybe one or two but they were the exception certainly not the rule. No matter how old you are now you remember the good old days.
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