March 25, 2006

Grated Memories

If memory is like a hunk of hard cheese, these are some of the gratings rolling about in my mind today.

~ 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


Blogger CarpeDM said...

Wow. This was a great post. I wish I could grate some memories of my own out but my grater doesn't seem to be working very well. Which is a nice way of saying my memory sucks.

I want to know what happened to Richie. That's pretty damn good for a 14 year old.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Johnny Virgil said...

Good memories....

as to what happened to richie - electrocuted would be my guess...

1:46 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Loved this! My first adult book was To Kill a Mockingbird ( funny i read this week that Truman Capote claimed he penned this book in collaboration with Harper Lee, his best friend), like yourself i read it in record time.
I remember when i got a "Chrissy Doll" for xmas, you could pull her out to make it long....was wonderful!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Spider Girl said...

This was a wonderful post.

A surprising amount of those episodes you related evoke a similar memory from my life: the doll, the tumbleweed, making fake animal foot-prints, the amazing landmark that wasn't...

Yep, took me down memory lane. Thanks. :)

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

"Thanks for the memories" Carol. You made me recall a few of my own. One being; my first job at the telephone Company. I was an "information please" lady and although young, thankfully not as young as 15. Good for you though.

12:24 AM  
Blogger the Monk said...

You write wonderfully, you know that? that was a beautiful post...

4:49 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

These are great vignettes and maybe later you can work them into full-fledged stories. You have led a full life. I wish I could remember stuff.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Alisa said...

If you ever get the opportunity to go back to Colorado... you need to see the continental divide as only you can see it by getting up the mountain without a car. We used a snowmobile tour group (heated seats, foot rests and handles!) The view... is... unforgettably spectacular.

Great post. Your writing talent brings to life memories that I don't have, but now feel I do.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I have very few vivid memories of the past. I can remember odd events, like the time one Christmas when I was around 8 years old and I got humiliated for having the temerity to 'show off' my new Red Indian oufit. Things like that stick. But overall, my life is fragmented, including most of my adult years. And this is why I envy anyone who can pull the details of their lives out of their heads like magicians pull rabbits out of a hat. Perhaps this is why I don't know who I am. I've had to re-invent myself - can you believe that? And I bet you have a highly defined sense of self, Carol. Anyway, would you believe I feel nostalgic for your memories?

I've had an idea. Maybe I'll write a post about memories I'd LIKE to ave. That might be fun.

Getting back to the point: as ever this beautifully written. I think you have a genius for nostalgia. Please, write more of it.

Psst! I think I'll re-work the first paragraph above as a post. It's short and sweet, but as it's a new insight, it seems a shame not to use it.

My apologies for using your comment space as the medium for reflecting on myself, but that's how it works sometimes. And again, thanks for a great post, and for making me think - that usually takes some doing!!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

Next time your in my neck of the woods, let me know and Cher and I'll will take you to a view of the divide that will knock your socks off!


2:10 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

This is a great post, Carol, as usual. I don't think I have any more memories I can post about - all mine have already been told....LOL.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Simply Coll said...

I have always found it wonderous that certain memories are crisp and clear.. like a picture postcard. I have always wondered how the mind picks and chooses.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Spinning Girl said...

OK, you know this post is utterly fabu, don't you?

I love the bear prints best --- that is something I would do. Even now.

7:48 PM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane! What a delightful read. Sorry it's been so long the new job took me for a ride!! :)

5:55 AM  
Anonymous pink said...

Some wonderful memories you pulled out to share with us there.
great quotes as well.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

I love knowing what folks were up to when they were kids - we are all so naughty.

I used to go up to the train tracks and leave quarters on the rials, come back later and find them all flattened. I never waited to see, as my brother said he knew someone who got shot in the head by flying quarter and died...this turned out to be a lie, but is plausible enough to make me cautious.

I also loved brushing my Barbie's hair - I still make sure the girls' Barbies are free of snarls.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

That continental divide sounds like a ripoff. You should have demanded your money back. :p

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to the tumbleweed! I had always thought it was fake, too. I was driving cross country in 1990 when I saw it.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Di said...

I love walking down memory lane even if it is someone else's memories. My first two grown up books...Sidhartha and The Catcher in the Rye. My brother was reading them as a senior in High school...which would have made me...ummm, in 6th grade? I was really fascinated by the use of the F word. lol

I tend remember the way I felt more than what I saw or heard.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Hi Carol, a very enjoyable post - Thanks for the tour! Aren't some of our memories priceless? :)

4:34 PM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

you have a very good memory there, mine is not that good. some times i can go to a movie and when i get home my wife will ask the name of the movie i just watched and i will have forgotten the name.

1:02 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Cool post and memories! I read the Jack London books as a pre-teen and most of my mother's library by the time I left home for college. We lived in the country and weren't allowed outside after dark, so there was plenty of time to read!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Chrissie said...

Thanks for visiting my site. I finally got a chance to reciprocate - I am linking yours now. I really enjoyed reading your memoris - got a chuckle from the Tumbleweed story!

2:57 PM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

great post and great idea to steal. when i have time next week i think i will do exactly that.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I love playing I remember. It's so nice to fill your head with the pleasants that made you who you are. Like others have suggested, I might have to do this myself - you may have created a meme here!

7:53 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

This is fantastic. I love this post. Great, and sometimes sad or scary, memories.

4:43 AM  
Blogger Swathi said...

i hope years from now, i wud write similar memories.

they had a tinge of nostalgia that is not alwayz sad but one that brings a smile on ur face .

jus luved the quotes at the end.

7:54 AM  
Blogger dan said...

the first horror film i saw was salem's lot. it scred the crap out of me when the glick boy was scraping on the window.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

Oddly enough: MY first tumbleweed was ALSO in Oklahoma. It was 1983, as we were driving to San Antonio to take a friend to the military base. Although now that I think about it, it MIGHT have been just over the Texas line, but it was somewhere along there.

Also, as a child I actually wanted one of those three foot dolls until I realized they didn't have functional "love openings."

7:34 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

a grate story. lol

12:34 AM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

Memories are such an awesome thing. Now you get to go out and create somemore or you will become one...

9:46 AM  
Blogger GEL said...

Enjoyed these tremendously and also noted they were not "cheesy!

11:48 AM  
Blogger dulciana said...

The Great Continental Divide is just a pole in the ground? That's so disappointing! Cool memories!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Genna said...

This was an awesome post. I loved how impacted you were when you received the doll. That is priceless.

Hope you are doing well!!

12:57 AM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

The amazing thing is that a bunch of gooey wet nerve cells can actually STORE ideas and memories.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Anjali said...

Very, very nice ... brought back a lot of my own memories.

And yes, it's horrifying to think that ANYTHING you can remember actually happened 31 years ago. Sigh.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I remember the chatty Kathy doll was big! Also, I didn't understand hay bales. I thought they were put there for Andrew Wyeth to paint.

10:19 PM  
Blogger robmcj said...

Great stories of vivid memories. No wonder you passed the memory tests with flying colours.

7:36 PM  
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12:02 AM  

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