Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mom's earliest memories 1941-1946

Lately I've been hanging out at my parents' house every Sunday afternoon. I hang around to offer help to my mom with anything she might be needing; I know she's often exhausted taking care of my father with his Parkinson's. But most of the time we just end up talking.

This last Sunday I was able to help her get her computer backed up and while I was working on the computer she straightened up her desk and then came across a piece of paper that had a list of "Triggers for childhood memories" - she can't remember why she wrote this list. I asked her to read the list to me, and then (a little surreptitiously) I started typing up the memories that these "triggers" helped her come up with. She said many of these childhood memories were certainly thing that  affected her life later on.

In her words:

I’m so thankful for my mother and father taking us on vacations, usually every September. The first one I remember was a trip to Wisconsin when I was 5 years old (maybe) in 1941. I bounced up and down and couldn’t sit still, I was sitting on a suitcase or box and Mother had put a pillow or bedding on top of it and Bev was underneath (where my feet would have gone) sitting sideways because every inch of space was used, we had packed for a week or more.

We were going west instead of east; usually we went east to Pennsylvania so it was very exciting heading in a different direction. Visited Portage, Wisconsin where Uncle Clarence lived, he had an ice cream shop. Daddy decided we should have our first train trip from Portage to the Wisconsin Dells, an old Indian encampment area. We saw all the teepees and women doing beadwork. My parents bought me a little Indian squaw doll and David got a little birchbark canoe.

1942? – Aunt Nellie and Uncle Chris had seasons tickets to the Louisville symphony. I was no more than six years old, and wanted to go with Mother and Nellie, even though they warned me I would have to sit by myself as they would have to buy a separate ticket. I was in a row behind them and never took my eyes off them the whole concert!

Hiking into the dark woods all by myself, from the sunshine into the darkness (1943-44) – I had so many fairytales in my mind that this was a strong memory for me. Especially venturing off by myself at such a young age and having the courage to go into the dark.

Riding Bill down the hill in front of the house and experiencing my first canter, a thrilling memory.

Sliding down the golf course hill in Dave’s skiis and getting the first rush of skiing. After the war; probably around 10 years old. 1946/47.  I had to stuff his boots full of socks to get them to fit. (My mother skied up until she was 74 years old! – she’s now almost 76 and just mentioned she’d like to take my 11 year old skiing).

The first time I saw the ocean, Tom and Dave and I, summer when I was 9 or 10, my sister Connie was a toddler. Nellie’s husband Kenneth showed us how to body surf the waves in. I’m sure that’s the start of my love of the ocean.

1946 – sitting in the audience as the University Choral Group performed the Messiah (my older sisters Bev and Margie were performing).

During the Depression years into War years: helping Mother bake bread and apple dumplings. Mother didn’t love to cook but she loved to bake. I got my love of cooking from Daddy. I liked having a little sister but I never had the interest in mothering or other domestic pursuits (though I always had to help with cooking and cleaning) except for these memories of baking and the house smelling so good.

Going to the children’s section of the Kent Public library and the nice lady there let us have as many books as we wanted. The bookmobile would stop at the top of the driveway and pick up me and David and Tom and take us to the crossroads in Brimfield (where the park was and pump and outhouses – we weren’t allowed to cross the street or go to Luddick’s store (little country grocery store where we kept a tab). We could get an ice cream there for a nickel but we had to ask for permission. We had too many books to carry to walk home so someone must have picked us up. The bookmobile was the size of a small schoolbus.

The Luddicks were our very best friends (I remember Helen Luddick) – Helen did a needlework of two women having tea for Grandma.

The Pufferbelly restaurant replaced the train station in Kent (pufferbelly was a name for an old-fashioned train). The passenger train ran until the late 1950’s. I took the train to New York City and David taking the train from that station to Annapolis (1957).

I wrote a letter in 7th or 8th grade to the Kent Courier Tribune why Truman should not have fired Douglas MacArthur. He was a kid’s hero: the war was our whole world as kids.

I don’t have a specific memory of the Pearl Harbor being bombed but I did notice that everything changed. Little boys and even girls would be dressed in childrens’ version of their father’s uniforms and sailor tops for the girls."

Mother subscribed to two weeklies, Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post. The minute Colliers came in the mail we would open it up to the back page, divided into two parts, the part across the top was a color caricature of a real enemy (Hitler and Hirohito etc) – very ugly. We cut them out and collected them like baseball cards. It was important to know who are enemies were. We didn’t collect any of the heros though.

When you went into school you brought 10 cents in whenever you could so that after the Pledge we would buy a victory stamp and put them in our stamp books. As soon as you collected $18.75  in your book then you could get a $25 war bond. Sometimes warbonds were given as gifts and that was big deal.

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