Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Memory Trilogy

Lately, for some reason, my mind has been quite preoccupied with childhood memories. Some of the memories come from my parents and I moving from San Diego, CA, where I was born, back to a small town in Oklahoma. I think my baby brother was born just shortly after we arrived in Oklahoma and preceded our move into a tiny house on the edge of a new development of many other tiny houses.

Do you have any memory of your early childhood years and, if not, have you ever tried to recall a childhood event? Assuming that the memories are not all long gone and forgotten - try it - focus on a house or a room, a yard, a grade in school - see what you come up with. It's ALL there in your brain but it may take a while to pull it up on your current screen. Look what happened when I remembered -

The House on North West Avenue (Bethany, OK)
Visiting the house of my youth
Well, not really visiting it as in going inside
Just driving by

I didn’t remember it being so small
I didn’t know we were poor, were we
I can remember acres across the road before they were filled with tiny, new houses like ours

I remember the year Mother decided the exterior should be painted
A nice soft yellow was planned
On sale at Sears was a yellow, though not so soft

Just driving by
After being away for 40 years
That yellow, just beginning to soften

Visiting the house of my youth
Well, not really visiting it as in going inside
Just driving by

My Shared Bedroom
As kids, my brother and I shared a bunk-bed room
Then my parents built a big family room on the back and that’s where they slept
Didn’t seem strange then

After the family room with a shower and big closet were built
I got my parents' bedroom and their four-poster bed became my own
My brother kept his room and the bunk-beds

My bedroom had built-in drawers under the closet
I kept lots of stuff in there
Paper and crayons and boxes and paper dolls

Silverfish lived in those drawers - they liked the paper stuff
I always knew to rattle a drawer before pulling it out
Silverfish could take a hint and made themselves scarce

Mother said the silverfish moved from CA to OK in the packing crates
Isn’t that strange that they came with us
Mother never really liked them and neither did I

Red Gladiolas
Red gladiolas grew by the very cement front porch
Mother always planted them by the very cement front porch
Nothing else in the bed – only red gladiolas

They looked so lovely in the bulb box photo
Standing straight and tall
One could imagine a whole garden springing up around them for no reason

Mother’s glads so full of hope and anticipation
Yes they grew tall and yes they were red
And yes, they fell over and smashed their Dixie cup faces in the dirt


  1. oh i love these! somewhere along the way i think the gladiolas switched to geraniums - still red...

  2. I love the way you have expressed your memories. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the post. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for the recollections and poetry.

    I do indeed remember the red gladiolas and the hard concrete porch. The porch was marked with the residue of "snakes" from 4th of July celebrations. On the south side of the house were beds of petunias. I would play with the garden hose and make streams and dams among the petunias.

    I, your baby brother, was born in San Diego, also. I think the four of us lived for a while in the house on Diamond Street. I don't remember living there or moving to Oklahoma. The story I tell is that we moved from California into the house on West Avenue in 1949, when I was three years old. The story probably resembles what actually happened.

    I don't remember sharing the bedroom with you, but I must have done so before "the den" was added to the back of the house. I remember my (our?) bedroom had mattresses and box springs held barely off the floor by bricks wrapped in the brown paper of shopping bags. For a time, there were no bed frames. I was small and the was not much space to play in that room.

    My recollection is that I got new bunk beds when I was around seven years old. I think you had already moved to the front bedroom with its fine four poster bed. With bunked beds, I had enough room to set up an electric train.

    I still have lots of memories of that house. It still stands and probably houses a family. Seeing it and thinking about it conjures memories of whence we came.

  4. so...i'm a little confused because the house on western sounds a lot like the house on n. donald complete with parents sleeping in the den. is this true? did they always sleep in dens? if so, it does seem strange now.

  5. In my memory, they always slept in the "family/TV/den" room, until they moved to the house on 25th Street.

    The first "Bethany" house was on West Avenue, which was renamed Rockwell Avenue. The second "Bethany" house was on Donald Street. "Lucy" shared a bedroom with "Geezer" until "SS" moved out. Lucy moved to SS's old room. Mom and Dad continued to sleep in the "family/TV/den" room.

  6. Lisa - Thanks so much for reading:) It's always nice to have a comment from you.

    Lucy - Yes, I think red geraniums took over from the gladioli later in Mother's life but very much later I think.

    Geezer - of course you were born in SD as we do have some darling baby pictures that were taken by Uncle Walter, a photographer - who was actually Uncle Slats' brother. I well remember the mattress and box spring supports made from the brown paper wrapped bricks. I think we might have shared the bunkbeds for a short period of time or at least I spent some nights in there. I liked to sleep on the top bunk and pick/peel the light green patterned wallpaper - oh what a kid does for entertainment! I also remember being "sick as a dog" at some time on the lower bunkbed, leaning over, the bucket, etc. - you get the picture. Aunt Zella brought me black olives because I wouldn't eat anything......they didn't stay down long. Oh, I do have some treasured memories don't I! I also definitely, definitely remember the black marks by July 4 "snakes" - the only rather safe piece of that season's fireworks. And the electric train set was huge taking up the space of a twin bed once the bunks were put in.


  7. Lucy, Yep, that sleep in the den business - no privacy, no closed door, right out there in the "open" seemed natural to them and to us at the time. Strange, I agree, on reflection:)