Flashback Friday: In the very strictest sense of the phrase

I'm not sure what prompted it the other day, but I got a little hung up on memories of my childhood.  In the words of Lucas from one of my favorite cult classics, "Who knows where thoughts come from?  They just appear."  Maybe it's because over the weekend I was pondering which of the day's mundane events might end up being a prevailing memory for my own kids.  Maybe it's because every once in a while I get really nostalgic when I think about my grandparents who are no longer with us.  No matter the reason, I found myself recalling little moments from my childhood out from behind the dusty cobwebs of my memory.

I had one of those All-American childhoods.  I grew up in a suburb in the Baltimore-Metro area.  We lived in a rancher in a tight-knit community with a sidewalk leading anywhere you wanted to go (if your mom would let you walk there).  My mom stayed at home with my sister and me, while my dad worked a typical 9-5 (give or take).  We ate dinner together as a family every night and went to church together every Sunday.  My mom volunteered in the classroom and my dad was a deacon.  My sister paved the way for me in the classroom, on the athletic field, and with my parents.  We were a model of the typical American family, our family. 

And all of that is pretty boring, if I might say so myself.

The things I've been remembering are the quirky things.  The little moments.  The stuff that makes this life interesting.

For instance, as I fought with, cursed at, and borderline assaulted our lawnmower last Friday trying to get it to work, I remembered that as soon as I was old enough I took over the lawn mowing duties at my childhood home.  We kept our mower in the back portion of our mammoth shed.  The little room that it was housed in had its own door, and I was terrified to go back there and get it out because one time over the course of my childhood I had seen a wasp nest in there.  And also, because I knew chipmunks and other small rodents made nests on the floor of that little back room.  The door was a snug fit in the frame, and resultingly required a good bit of strength to tug open.  I would snatch the door open, hop back, and then ever so carefully reach a single arm inside and pull the mower out with two fingers with my feet planted as far away as they could possibly be.  I remember the smell of that back room.  It was a familiar combination of old (but not rotten) grass and gas fumes.  I think it must have been a forty year old mower because, well, that's what my dad does.  He fixes old things and used them for half centuries.  I'd always need help getting it started before I mowed our yard of plush grass white clover.  And then as soon as I finished (and sometimes even before), I would hear our retired neighbor crank his mower up because it would be almost criminal for our grass to be shorter than his.

As I fiddled with the mower, I thought of how proud of me my dad would be that we continued to use such a colossal piece of junk.  I can count on one hand the number of vehicles my family drove growing up, including the red Ford Escort that didn't have a/c (and yes, it gets hot enough in MD in the summer that we needed it), the Ford Station Wagon that carried us on a trip to Tennessee when my sister was 12 and I was 7 during which my sister and I fought so badly she spent the majority of our trip banished to the very rear squished among the suitcases, and the Ford Aerostar which served as a necessary replacement for the station wagon if my family ever expected to survive a trip longer than 3 hours again and which we utilized for a tour of New England the following summer.

Since I've been consciously trying to remember things, it seems that I can't stop.  Everywhere I look I'm reminded of some small experience I had that makes me smile.  A friend of mine had a tooth extracted and I remembered the time I had my own 2nd molars extracted, and my grandmother made me split pea soup with bits of hot dog in it so I wouldn't go hungry.

I went to Ben's field day and saw these things...


...and I remembered how badly I coveted everyone who had one when I was little, so I got on and demonstrated for the kindergartners how it's done.  (Not to mention the flood of field day memories that came flooding back, not the least of which being that it always seemed to fall on the hottest, most humid day of the year, and our elementary school was not equipped with air conditioning.  Dark ages, I tell you.)

I saw a pair of Reebok Classics in a magazine and I recalled how that was the first pair of name-brand shoes I ever owned in my life and how I had saved for months before my seventh grade year to be able to buy them.

So many things like this keep popping into my brain.  It's like a little exercise to keep my memory sharp.  Forget Sudoku and crossword puzzles.  Memory retrieval, here I come!  (Okay, who am I kidding?  I'll never stop doing those.  Because, well, I'm a nerd.)

There's how the four of us would walk to the "Snowball Lady's" house for a snowball with a hefty pricetag of a quarter each.  She only offered two flavors:  Sky Lite and Egg Custard.  My mom and my sister got the former.  My dad and I got the latter.

Then there's the time it snowed, and I was too sick to play so my mom sat me on a stool by the window so I could watch my sister and her friends play out front.  To make me feel better, she filled a small tupperware bowl full of Doritos for me to snack on.  It worked because, in my opinion, that was a rare enough, delicious enough treat to warrant missing snow play.

Though it seemed like my parents never went on so much as a date together without us, there was the time they flew off to Florida, leaving us home with my grandparents when I was five.  When they left I was wearing these socks (complete with red pom poms)

and from henceforth, they were dubbed "Airplane Socks" by yours truly.

It's the strangest things like this that make me wonder, "Why did I commit that to memory?!"  And that also make me wonder what my children will remember twenty years from now. 

Whatever it is that they happen to recall, I hope the memory is accompanied by the warm fuzzies...just as I'm filled with warmth at the recollection of a million and one random memories from long, long ago in a faraway place. 

Today, I challenge you to conjure up a memory you haven't thought about in decades.  Share it with me, so I can relate and remember something else of my own.  I bet it will bring a smile to your face.

Go ahead...I dare you to remember.


Anonymous said...

Jennie, I just love your thinking and still stalk your blog :)

Random memory - I was eating fruit cocktail this week and remembered how I just loved maraschino cherries as a kid. My grandma would tell me that they would stay in my stomach for a looong time, like 6 mos before they would digest. So I wouldn't eat too many. Random memory :) but I understand those moments.

I too wonder what my child(ren) will remember. I hope it is the good things!

jennifer said...

I too stalk your blog Jennie and read it as often as possible.

My random memory often goes to my father standing in my neighbors driveway with me next to him. He used to always rock forward onto his toes and maintain that position for a second or two. Then rest back on his heels and repeat that move over and over all the while he stood takling to the neighbor. I used to watch him and wonder why he did that. Very random memory.

Debbie said...

Honestly, Jennie, I'm trying.
Unfortunately right at this moment, I can't think of anything beyond this morning. Sigh.

Heather said...

what a great idea for a post!
I'm a new follower thanks to MBC, hope you follow back!

Stephanie said...

I also stalk your blog... The internet is a strange and wonderous thing... It reveals to you people you *wish* you would've been closer to years ago! I wish we would have known each other more back then (maybe it was the age difference?)... I think we woulda had some good times!
I remember my first day of 6th grade and going to the bus stop with Julie... I think we were at your house once... did you have a chair that you kinda hid behind? For some reason when I think of you and Julie that's what I think of...

Jennie said...

Heather: I remember my mom used to make "fruit salad" which was really nothing more than a bunch of cans of fruit cocktail dumped together with extra maraschino cherries in it. It was always my favorite. :)

Jennifer: My dad used to hold one arm extended and close one eye and look at his fingers. I remember one time I asked him why he did that (and he still does). He told me it's because at a certain angle it looks like his fingers are bent. I still have NO clue what he's talking about. I guess all dads have quirky behaviors too! ;)

Mrs. Debbie: Ha! I'll let it slide this once.

Heather: Thanks for the follow!

Stephanie: HAHAHA...we definitely had a chair that I was regularly behind. My barbie house was behind it and I think I played with it like 24/7. I'm not sure I actually "hid" back there...but I can see how someone would think that! I don't know why we didn't hang out! We were SO close. I remember one time I rode my scooter down the "big hill" on Duryea and crashed right in front of your house (or right before) because I hit that part of the sidewalk that was uneven. It was the worst "boo boo" I'd ever had.

What's in a name... said...

Following you from MBC. Pls follow me, when you get the chance : http://masalabowl.blogspot.com/

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