Sharing Memories 2012 – My First Memory

My daughter Kay and I, in working on genealogy for the past several years, have become very aware of all the questions we have about our ancestors – what they did and why and where. In 2011 I started writing “my memoirs” so my children and grandchildren would have a record of my life, and perhaps answers to their questions when they arise.

When I began writing, I didn’t think I remembered much of my earlier childhood – like my Uncle Joe: “I don’t remember nuthin’” – but as I began to write it down, a little snippet of a memory here and another snippet there began to emerge.

As one memory led to another, pretty soon I was having so much fun realizing my grandchildren and, in many cases, even my children, would not have a clue about things such as a wringer washer or a mangle or even Monkey Island at the Zoo. I realized the physical and social landscape has changed in ways to make the earlier world almost unrecognizable, so I did Internet research to find pictures and explanations.

One of the things that came out of my writing endeavor was recording my earliest memories and in response to Olive Tree Genealogy blog prompt for today, I’ll share from my writing. Because I have no clear grasp of which came first, I’ll record two that must have happened at about the same time.

My parents bought a home when I was three and that is where my earliest memories occurred. I suspect both these memories occurred at about the same time period, in fact, possibly on the same day, which would have been mid to late September of 1944 and about a year after we moved into the home.

Although I’ve been an extrovert as long as I can remember, many of my early memories are of me being alone and the first memory I’ll record is one of those. The house Mom and Dad bought, which I’ve previously blogged about, had a brick arch on the front west corner.

Probably one of my strongest memories of that house on Hardin Drive was playing London Bridge by myself with the arched brickwork – unfortunately, no picture shows that full arch to provide a visualization [based on the County Assessor’s website photo of the house, the arch is gone now]. I don’t remember being sad and lonely in playing by myself, but rather was singing the song and circling through the arch. I don’t know if the song was commonly sung by children in those days or if it was something connected in some way to mother’s brother, George, who was stationed in England and, consequently close to London, at the time.

One day after playing at the arch, I came through the front door and saw mother on the sofa with a crumpled piece of paper in her hands and sobbing deeply – the crumpled paper was the telegram telling her of the death of her brother, George, in Arnhem, Holland on September 18, 1944 in the largest World War II airborne operation called Operation Market Garden [Kay has written about George and his WWII experience in her blog]. In reviewing George’s letters on my daughter’s website, I can see George had written mother a letter from England on August 13, 1944 and mailed on August 23 (the letter to her brother, Johnnie, written the same day was apparently post marked on August 19). I would guess George’s letter had only reached mother a few days before she received the telegram, which likely heightened her already huge pain and loss compounded by the early deaths of her father, then mother and oldest brother, Willie.