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Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Memories

Another opportunity has presented itself for me to be able to write and Carpe Diem, I jumped!

Yesterday we did indeed take Mr S. to lunch, shopping and putting away his purchases. After that we sprang the surprise and loaded him back into the car. A short delay for picking up Anna's cameras, a Starbuck's coffee, and a tank of gas, and we were on the road to check out Lake Lahontan and the dam. Mr S. had earlier related a bit of dining room gossip that the lake was so full that the water was going over the spillway. I was trying to decide which direction I was going to drive after lunch and this gave me the clue I needed.

The lake isn't quite that full, but does have a lot of water in it. Our view of the dam wasn't very exciting so I drove into the park and chatted with the park ranger who allowed us to drive around the lake free of charge and check it out.

A lot of fishing and boating stories later, we had driven to the far end of the lake road and were returning when we met the same ranger on the road. We stopped and spoke with him again and learned that the trees had a disease in them and were dying off. They are trying to replant and as with everything, budget battles are hindering them. This gentleman truly loves his park and his job and I have every confidence that he will find a way to make it all work out.

Our delay was perfect as it gave us an opportunity to spot a large bird in a tree that at first we thought was a vulture. Getting closer so that Anna could photograph it, we saw that there were two and at least one had a white head. Eagles! How very exciting! More maneuvering and driving in sand that has been known to trap vehicles we got close enough to get decent photos. One looked to be an adult and the other I could see dark feathers on its head. Juvenile!

Later at home Anna sent me a couple of the closer pics and I knew right away that this was not a bald eagle. Further investigation proved that we had seen a pair of Osprey, aka Fish Eagles. A first time for all of us to be close enough to photograph this species. Very cool!

Today the weather guessers predict a mostly sunny day with 69F for a top temperature and SE winds at 10 mph or so. No rain in the forecast and a clear night with a low above freezing at 36F.

The story offering for today was inspired by a discussion held a long time ago about first memories that involve more than just a face or scene. Something of "event" status. One of the participants in this discussion was a psychologist friend and the one who called my ability to recall detail, "odd". This friend was a person who would only drink from a glass that was between 3/4 and 1/2 full, and always held any glass with a napkin. To be called odd by such a person was then, and is now, a source of humor for me.

It is a short story and merely offers a whimsical glimpse into an event from more than half a century ago, which sounds terribly ancient, doesn't it? Please read and enjoy.

First Memories

I have an episode permanently etched into my memory that took place when I was just a bit shy of three years of age, (yes really) and before I fell out of the bunk-bed later that same year (see “Getting Your Eggs Scrambled”).  I can see it as clearly now, as the day it happened in 1956, at our house in Daytona Beach, Florida.

To remember something clearly from that age is a bit odd I am told... OK, so I'm odd. I can remember bits and pieces from before that even, when we lived in Hollywood, Florida in the "old house" which my father moved into as a young child, and it was ancient then. The old house is no longer there, (they tore it down to build the house that my uncle lives in now), and it's just as well, it was a firetrap with old wiring and dry wood, and sooner or later a catastrophe was bound to happen.

We moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, in the summer of 1955 after my Dad got out of the Air Force , and was hired by the CAA, (which became the FAA) to work in the control tower at Daytona Beach Airport. We lived there from 1955 to 1958 (or was it '59).

I believe that the area we lived in was called, "Holly Hill", and that house, was the first one that my parents ever owned. It was on a somewhat busy street in a suburban type of setting; not city, but not farms either. It was close enough to the coast for us to walk to the beach every day and there was an old, family-run corner grocery store not too far from the house. At the intersection where our road and another one, (the one Dad took to go to work), crossed. Behind our house, a short way through some bushes and trees; was a brand new television station. They made a big mess, dumping their cables and cable spools and all that kind of other stuff at the edge of the clearing that they were located in, which was towards our house.

Our house itself sat back off the road, but faced it, the length of the house being parallel to the street. We had a dirt driveway that led up to a carport and the house (as you faced it) extended to the left of that. There was a door into the house from the carport and also a regular front door. The living room was in front with a dining room/area behind that, and a kitchen next to the dining room. From the living room you went down a long hallway; my older sister's little bedroom was the first door on the left, across from it on the right was the bathroom. At the end of the hall were two bedrooms; on the left, at the front of the house was the boys bedroom, three of us eventually shared that room when I outgrew my big crib. On the right was our parents’ bedroom, at the back of the house.

My crib started out in my parents’ room and I was a big pain in the neck, no surprise I know! I didn't want to stay in the bed when others were up and about, and I would climb over the side and off I'd go. The bed had adjustments to lower the frame with the springs in it, to accommodate the child's growth. Mine had to be lowered to try and prevent my escaping. When it was down to where I could stand up in the bed and the top rail of the side was even with my shoulders, they thought that they had me.

HA! I would just bounce until I could get my arms over the rail and get a leg up on it, and over I'd go... and crash to the floor. They moved my crib up against the big bed so that I wouldn't hurt myself, but that just gave me a soft landing place. I know what you're thinking; and I DID get my butt spanked for getting out of bed... it just didn't do any good. They dropped the frame all the way down to its lowest setting and the bottom rail (of the movable side) was now even with the bottom edge of my mattress.

Once again they thought that I was secured in my little cage... er, crib, and walked out of the room towards the kitchen. But they should have known better; I could not be contained! I just sat down on the bed with my legs through the side and kicked the bar that let the side down, and I walked down the hallway right behind them and got up in a chair at the table. Where I was quietly sitting when they turned around, and just about had heart failure when they saw me! They didn't hear me drop the side, or walk behind them, or get up into the chair. The little padded feet in my pajamas were good for something after all.

Around that same time, I learned that you must fear the older sister, she is all powerful, and you should not disobey her orders, or you will pay dearly for the mistake. My sister was just shy of five feet tall and couldn't weigh 75 pounds with her pockets full of rocks. My oldest brother was much taller and double her weight, but he found out it was a mistake to cross her; a big one!

I was once again confined to my dratted crib for a stinking nap while everyone else was up, and I didn't like it at all, but I was getting tired of getting spanked too. So I was just standing up in the bed, looking forlornly down the hallway towards life outside of the bars, when from around the corner, out of his bedroom (where he had been hanging out with his friends), comes my oldest brother. He walks up to the bed and says, "Do you want out of there?" DUH! Of course I did... He reached in and lifted me over the side, put me down in the hall, and I wandered off towards the living room.

The sister-in-charge nabbed me right away and put me back in my cell, and probably got in my face about getting out of bed, but I can't remember that for some reason. I do know that she heard the guys snickering in the bedroom and figured out that they were up to no good. Instead of going back to the kitchen, she stepped into the bathroom and looked out through the crack between the door and the jamb.

In no time at all, my brother was back in to get me and freed me once more; "Free at last, Free at last, Good God Almighty I'm Free at last...." Where did you think that Dr. King got those words anyway?

Super sister was out of the bathroom and in the culprits face as quickly as he sat me down. He tried to escape past her, but didn't get as far as he had hoped; she grabbed his shirt front and he smarted off, which caused her to start smacking him. My much larger brother was backing down the hallway towards his room and our little bitty older sister was holding on to his shirt with her left hand, and slapping him with her right. This required her reach up at arm’s length to reach his face, but she was getting it done, believe me. The cracking sound of her hand against his face was like a firecracker!

That's the first time that I can ever remember climbing INTO the crib on my own! I didn't want any of that action, I was running for cover!

It finally became obvious to all of them (parents and siblings), that I would have to have other sleeping arrangements. If it had been me as the parent, I would have been installing a top on that crib!  But they were too kind for that, and along came the trundle bed, which was low enough to slide under my brothers' bunk beds. I had graduated!


A few months after they had given up trying to contain me, I took a dive off of a top bunk and fractured my skull. I only bring this up as a note of warning for those with hard to deal with children. Keep doing what you know is right and safe for your child, even if they aggravate you and get on your last good nerve. The question "what can he do anyway?" was answered by my "Humpty-Dumpty" nap dive. Hold steady parents!

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