Thursday, August 13, 2009

The 5 Senses of my Childhood

Every once in a while, I'll come across something that calls up a memory from my childhood. Usually, it is at a time when I'm not actually trying to recall something from my childhood, but rather the memory sneaks up on me and surprises me in a wonderful way.

For example, the word "rebar". I don't even know if that's how you spell it, but I'm talking about the tubular metal stakes that go into the foundation of a building. You see, when I was almost 3 years old, our family moved into a newly built house in a brand-new subdivision. My brother (3 years older) and I would often ride our bikes around that neighborhood as new homes were built over the next few years. He and I would often climb into the basements, where the construction crew had left a skeleton staircase of bare wood (or sometimes just a ladder). My brother always warned me of the pieces of rebar sticking out, so that I would not poke myself on them as we were playing. I'd never heard that word before, and now I always remember the first place where I heard it.

Other parts of my childhood are forever ingrained in my memory, because of certain smells, sights, sounds, and tastes. For example:

The taste of Apple Jacks drowned in Whole Milk. Until I was probably 10 years old, we drank whole milk at my house. You know, the Vitamin D stuff. I don't know why my parents picked that; probably because it tastes so awesome. As a kid, I never knew there were other "percents". And, my favorite cereal as a kid (and still as an adult) was/is Apple Jacks. I have always loved AJ's but until Baby Sally recently started on whole milk, I'd forgotten how wonderful that combination tastes. I guess over the years I have put myself on 2% milk, then 1%, then skim, then 1/2%, then back to 1%. I'd forgotten how creamy and smooth that Vitamin D milk is. My older kids now prefer that milk over the 1% too. I can completely understand.

The smell of sawdust. As a young girl, I loved to wear dresses, but I also loved to get dirty. I would ride a bike in a skirt. I would climb a tree in a dress. And I would sit in my dad's workshop and pound on scrap pieces of wood with a hammer and his chisels. I would carve little words in there like "Gretchen's Room" and then nail some wire to the back and proudly display it in my room. I would also build whatever I needed: a jewelry box or a shelf or whatever else could be constructed from random small pieces of lumber and a few nails. Still, to this day, whenever I smell sawdust, I picture my dad's workshop and that big cardboard box of scrap wood that held the keys to unlock my imagination.

The sound of "Yesterday" by the Beatles. My sister had this snazzy white box with sparkles on it that held all of her 45's. I can still hear the sound of "Yesterday" and "Hey, Jude" coming out of the speakers in her room. Later, she got a piano book of the music for Beatles' songs, and she learned how to play "Yesterday" on the piano. I can really clearly remember sitting on the stairs, listening to my sister practice that song on the piano in the living room, wishing I could be as cool as she was. Later, of course, I learned all the songs in that piano book too. Well, I learned all the ones I'd heard her play because I wasn't really learning the songs because I liked the Beatles.

The feel of cold copies fresh off the ditto machine (and the smell of that purple ink). I remember when my teacher would come into the classroom and pass back a stack of freshly copied worksheets. The pages felt slick and the smell of the ink was infectious to nearly every student. I had forgotten about that until I did my student teaching at a parochial school. To keep costs down, they had resisted doing their running-off of papers on a copy machine; they still used a ditto machine. I think by that time, though, the ink was black (not toxic purple).

And sights... well, it's hard to pick one. Some things that remind me of my childhood, every time I see them are (all pictures courtesy of Google Images):

My mom would only buy me Jordache Jeans from Marshalls, where they were marked "IRREGULAR". They might as well have been marked "LOSER".
My mom & dad still have this tupperware set. I'm 100% serious. And they still use it.
I can't remember a lot of specifics about the episodes, but I remember how much I loved this show:
I had one of these and my brother had the Green Machine. I think I wore through those plastic wheels pretty quickly by riding down our street as fast as I could, then skidding to a halt before I crashed into a tree.
I NEVER got the 64. I begged and begged. One year I got the 48, but I think by that time it was a hollow victory. I was probably in 6th grade by then and already labeled a dork. 64 crayons wasn't going to help my cause at that point.

So, what are some things that call up memories of your childhood?


Anonymous said...

My grandparents have the same Tupperware sets, and still use them. I think my mom has some too. I LOVE those!

Stephanie said...

My grandparents also have that tupperware set...though I think the bottoms are white, the lids blue! haha

My sister and I had those bikes too! My sister had the exact one in the picture, mine was pink or purple..I busted mine on a dare riding at top speed off of our 6 ft. front porch (big victorian wrap around)

And I would LOVE a big set of crayola's right now! I miss coloring! haha

Anna See said...

Such a wonderful post, and I love the picture! I was transported to an earlier, simpler time.

Re-bar reminds me of building churches in Mayan villages in Mexico. And the crayons? NEVER got the built in sharpener either. Jordache? Didn't work for my ample thighs. Calvins were more forgiving.

I want to write a post on the senses of my childhood, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jen said...

awesome memories. I like it when things do that and bring you back. its awesome.

Jennifer said...

The pic from this post -->, was up on your widge with a picture of Peppermint Patty and she looks EXACTLY like that picture of you. EXACTLY.

A Lil Enchanted said...

What a great post! I still have one of those yellow Tupperware bowls!LOL

A Lil Enchanted,

Farmgirl Paints said...

Isn't funny the things you remember growing up. I remember the Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, The Love Boat, Charlies Angels etc...Apparently I watched a lot of tv. Cute post. Stopping by from SITS. Pop on over - I'm having my first giveaway:)