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Writing Life Memories

Updated on September 23, 2011


Thanksgiving 2004
Thanksgiving 2004

Life Memories

Back in North Georgia after an absence of several years dedicated to caregiving in Florida, I find that although I love the area, several former friends have moved away and I'm alone for the first time in a long time. Decided I better get back into the "social" swing of things so signed up for a writing class at the local senior OASIS group sponsored by First United Methodist church here. I'm going to attach our first "homework" below and hope you'll get as much of a kick out of reading it as I did digging around in my brain for this old memory:

Summer, 1940

One of my earliest memories is daddy teaching us to swim.

We lived in Tampa in those days, at 307 E. Emma. Before that we’d lived at 309 West Elm, half a block from the Hillsboro River, but we moved when we got a chance to buy a nice big house. It was white frame with a big porch spread all across the front and giant white columns holding up the porch roof. A few years ago I learned it was what they called a “Craftsman’s bungalow”. They were sold through the Sears catalog in those days. We rented the house on West Elm when we moved to Tampa. I was about two and a half; I remember my brother was born while we lived there and he fell off a changing table and cut his head open while still a tiny baby. I remember riding to the hospital and staying in the car with someone while momma and daddy took him in the hospital and got his head sewed up.

But being close to the river bothered my daddy’s asthma and when they found this nice big house with two bedrooms, they bought it. Daddy always worked around boats and had a job at the shipyard, the Tampa Shipbuilding Company. A year or so later when the war started, he became captain of their tugboat TASCO and was gone for a couple of weeks at a time. On his way home after being at sea, he’d stop at the store and get a pint of ice cream. At home he’d holler, “get up, time for chee chee,” and we’d race to the kitchen to eat up the ice cream. There wasn’t a way to keep it frozen so we had to eat it all. For years I thought chee chee was what ice cream was called. But that’s another story!

We went to the lake every chance we got. It was north of Tampa, Lake Thomas; it was a big, muddy lake, and when you got out of the water, teeny weeny black spots were all over you, like black freckles. Momma didn’t know how to swim but dad was like a fish in the water.

I was standing waist deep in water that Saturday, looking longingly at my daddy out further when suddenly I felt something bump into my leg. I looked down, and it was my baby brother! He’d swum under water all the way to me from daddy.

I was so scared I jumped up and down, splashing and yelling, “Daddy, daddy, Ralph’s under the water!”

Daddy was laughing so hard he could hardly stand up. He finally gasped out, “It’s okay, he’s swimming. I told him to go get you!”

Now I was furious. “I want to swim,” I hollered. “I want to swim!”

Daddy splashed his way back and put me on his shoulders, then we went out far enough so it was up to his waist. “Okay, kick your feet and paddle like Tippy’s doing.” I looked over and could see Tippy, our little fox terrier, going around in circles near the shore. Daddy said, “Put your fingers together so they make a little cup.” With that he lowered me into the water and I started dog paddling and kicking my feet. His hand was under my tummy but pretty soon it wasn’t there any more. I was swimming!

My brother was still an infant, maybe 6 or 7 months by then. I was 3 and a half.

Love from Gma Cookie


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