~ I remember the time I stood at the edge of the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey watching the “Jet Star” amusement ride fly off the end of the pier and into the ocean like a Tonka toy being hurled into a wall by an angry child. This occurred during a hurricane sometime in the early 1970s. After watching this eerie sight, I finally decided I should follow the rules and go back home to hunker down.
~ I remember the time I drove miles out of my way during a cross country trip just to see The Great Continental Divide. My excitement grew almost as much as each highway sign pointing me in the right direction. When I got there, my heart was broken to see a pole in the ground with a little hand written sign that read, “The Great Continental Divide.” I still don’t know quite what I had been expecting to see, but I know it wasn’t that.
~ I remember the time my sister and I climbed up to the old railroad tracks that bordered an open field to watch a Young Rascals concert which we couldn’t afford to attend. From the top, we were just a few feet higher than the nosebleed bleacher seats on the field but we felt like we had the best view of all. We were so cold until they started to sing “Groovin” – then we didn’t even notice it so much. I couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old.
~ I remember the time my sister and I stayed up in the country at a cottage with our neighbors. One of the boys and I made fake bear-prints in the mud by the lake while my sister and her friend were out walking in the woods (an expressly forbidden activity in bear country). They came back, spotted the fake prints, and were horrified. I laughed myself silly.
About three hours later (toward evening), we were all sitting out on the porch when our friends’ dad saw an odd trail of prints nearby. These were fresh – much larger than the fake ones we made – and we had all been together for hours this time. They couldn’t get me out of the cottage the rest of the weekend.
~ I remember the time I woke up in my hospital bed with the curtains drawn all around me and room lights brightly lit. It was in the middle of the night and I wondered, “What the heck?” Then I overheard the nurses discussing which one of them would call the family, and I watched in horror as the gurney wheels passed beneath the rim of the curtain. The old woman next to me had expired in the night and they were removing her. I was quite young and had never been so close to dead person before. It’s not a nice feeling for a little kid.
~ I remember the time I got a three foot doll with long blond hair for Christmas. She didn’t even do anything but stand by herself and I thought this was the most fabulous gift in the world. Most of my dolls up to that point were hand-me-downs with holes in their head where hair used to be. I would sit and comb my new doll’s hair for hours on end, just because I could; I was completely entertained by this. I was about five or six years old.
~ I remember the time I was hired by the New York Telephone Company as a Toll Operator. They broke their rules to let me in. I was a high school dropout and the youngest full-time operator on the entire staff in all five boroughs. Following my interview, I had to take several dexterity and memory tests. I passed them all with flying colors. They later told me that I earned this opportunity because of my brutal honesty and my ability to hold a fine conversation. I was quite proud of this at fifteen years old.
~ I remember the first adult book I ever read in two days from cover to cover. It was “Jaws” by Peter Benchley. Usually, it takes me about a week to finish a good book; longer if it’s slow moving or it sucks. It was in mid-March, 1975. How do I know this? It’s written in one of the diaries I’ve managed to hang on to through the years. I must have really liked that book. (Egad … 31 years ago this week)
~ I remember the first time I saw real tumbleweed rolling across the highway in front of my car. I was awestruck. I had always thought tumbleweed was phony stuff they just used for effect in cowboy movies. I was so thrilled by this that I made my companion stop the car; I got out and grabbed a handful to send home to my mother. This revelation took place in Oklahoma, 1980.
~ I remember the time my friend Richie brought his small black and white television set up to the playground where we all hung out in the evenings. Everyone wondered why he brought such a thing.
To our amazement, Rich proceeded to dismantle the bottom section of the metal street light pole and after playing with the wires for about ten minutes, he had the damned TV working perfectly. Considering he was only about fourteen years old, this was brilliant! We sat along the cement wall and watched it for about an hour till we knew the cops would soon be patrolling the area. We had the cops’ schedule down tighter than the Department itself!
~ I remember the time I took second place in a bumper-pool tournament in the park’s recreation building (same park as mentioned above). I was the only female in the top six contenders. I had an edge; my dad and I played bumper-pool in our basement every night for about an hour after dinner (we had our own table). He taught me the ever-so-tricky jumpshot. I haven’t played in about 25 years but I have a feeling I’d still be quite good at this.
“It’s funny that pirates were always going around searching for treasure, and they never realized that the real treasure was the fond memories they were creating.” Jack Handey (“Deep Thoughts”)
"Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.” Pierce Harris