I thought it might be interesting to explore some of our childhood experiences that helped mold what we are today. To start, I thought I'd begin with some memories of Aunt Jane.
I grew up mostly a city boy. I wandered the city streets, was as comfortable down by the docks as wandering into museums or libraries. I knew all about flowers and stuff since they held a big flower mart every spring. Flowers grew in small carts and green paper.
Mom and dad thought I need to learn more about nature and growing things, what a small town was like. That's where Aunt Jane came in.
Every summer they'd pack me off for a visit in the country. Aunt Jane lived in a small town called Saint Mary's Mead or something and for a young kid, there could be nothing worse.
She had a reputation as a busybody but that wasn't fair. She wasn't, but she did notice things that others never saw. I remember the day after I arrived she took me for a walk up Lansham Road to visit a friend of her's, Mrs Bantry.
On the way back home she asked me if I thought the tomatoes in Baker's Grocery looked ripe enough for sandwiches. I didn't remember seeing them. She looked at me in surprise, and asked if I'd seen the baskets? I had to admit I hadn't noticed. She went on to describe the veggies out in front of the grocery, the baskets at the basket weavers, the dog sitting outside the Blue Boar, all things I had not even noticed.
The trip home became an adventure, trying to see if all she had listed were still there (they were), and the tomato sandwiches, thick slices of tomato, fresh lettuce from farmer Gile's, homemade bread and lots of mayo, were the best I had ever eaten.
Every day for the rest of the vacation became a safari. We'd go for a walk and I'd work as hard as I could to see everything and remember it all. Yet still, in the evening when we'd talk about the day there would dozens of things I'd missed. I got better day by day though and when it came time to return to the city Aunt Jane said I had "a good eye". That was better'n a medal.
It occurs to me that I am doing damage to my father by calling him a "drunk."
Indeed he was, but he was an intelligent drunk.
He was a poet himself, and used to quote to me many fine lines from literature. HIs favorites were of course the more depressing passages from Shakespeare:
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death.
Out, Out! Brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
One of his favorites.
This message has been edited by robinrohan, 07-08-2005 12:17 AM
Although i grew up with my mother, i have very few memories of doing things with her. One of the only memories is that of vising the Chislehurst Caves. I was in a pushchair, 2 or 3 yrs old and remember picking blackberries on the way there. I loved the creepiness of the caves, they have fossils in walls and ceilings and people sheltered there during the war. They also have a number of feature alcoves, i remember the one with some witches most clearly and a dalek one. I think that was the single most fun time i ever had with my mother.
My dad and grandfathers were much more intersting and would tell me what every plant and tree was as we passed them, and would show me how to make things, from paper boats to model aeroplanes. My grandad George would tell me all about birds and woodcarving and boats and planes as well.
I think it was these influences that made me believe that women are pretty boring and men are much more fun and interesting.
My parents moved the family from a Mexican mountain town (Fresnillo) to my grandparents mountain home in a tiny little town called Dutch Flat, California, located in the Sierras along I-80 west of Reno, NV. We lived with them for about a year and a half when I was about 5 years old before moving to Reno, NV. After moving and for the following 3 years or so, we would "go over the hill" (over Donner Pass) to visit my grandparents several times a year. Ever year after, we went less and less, but only because us kids were so busy with school and activities.
My grandfather was a mining engineer who was working on some of the placer deposits in the area and my grandmother never worked. The memories of being with my grandparents are some of the best and most influential of my life.
While in Dutch Flat, I learned how to:
-speak English -pan for gold -build a barbed wire fence -build an add-on -pick fruit trees -feed a hummingbird -shoot a pistol, 22 rifle, and shotgun -shift the gears of my grandads VW Beetle while jumping it off a huge bump in the road -chop wood -avoid and remove ticks -steer a wagon while sitting it the bed flying down a steep paved driveway -make peach and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler -enjoy soy ice cream, grits, oatmeal, and avocado-mayo sandwiches
I got to meet a gas station owner with a hook for a hand and found out the difference between a pig and a hog. I learned the names for all the birds and animals I saw, that mountain lions could eat your dog, and what a rattle snake looked and sounded like. I also learned about the rocks and how the rocky hillslopes once made families rich with gold.
I don't think I've experience so much in so little time as I did those 5 or so years. I was very close to my grandfather. He's the reason I chose the profession I did and why I enjoy the outdoors so much.
Yes i suppose i was, i enjoyed playing with my brother and the boys in the street more than with the girls. They were always afraid of stuff. Pansys. Conversely one of my favourite toys was my sindy house/caravan/ferrari etc. And i loved dressing them up and doing their hair. A confused conflicted child, I wanted to be a fashion designer, jockey and rally driver.
Today, tend to be more comfortable in jeans, i work in construction, male dominated workforce and feel uncomfortable being thought of as a girl, still think of myself as one of the boys. People keep contradicting me tho, being 5ft 2" and 8 stone with a liking for pink ( i blame my 3 year old friend)
Thanks for starting this thread, jar. Some interesting histories people have… For me the poetic father automatically = cool despite his problems simply due to his love of the darker side of Shakespeare!
I grew up with 2 sisters (both younger than me) and no brothers. My father, a muslim, came from India, and my mother from Pakistan where I think they conceived me. They had me in Glasgow, Scotland (in a hospital — I must have had something terribly wrong with me, haha), and I grew up for all but 1¾ years of my life in England.
Bullied incessantly at school (partly because I would hurl insults and tables back at bullies, thereby egging them on), I read and learnt things with a voracious appetite for knowledge which has served me in good stead even now.
I turned to cannabis for a couple of years at the age of 23 after living a completely strait–laced life, and it gave me some of the best (actually hearing music come out of my speakers like a physical force and split into 5 vertical stripes, and the music itself sounding like a rollercoaster ride through molecules) and worst (extreme paranoia, time slowing down while my tinnitus grew to unbearable levels, feeling like I’d gone to Hell) times of my life.
I used to drink alcohol a few years ago too, but I gave that up a while back an’all.
There's one particular memory that's been coming back to me with this recent rash of tornados. When I was 6 years old an F5 tornado struck the Candlestick Park Shopping Center on Cooper Road in Jackson. My mother was having her hair done in the beauty parlor at that shopping center when it hit, and one of my sisters and I were with her. I remember Mama giving my sister and me some money to go get a snack at the drug store. On the way back I noticed that the clouds were extremely dark and were moving much faster than I had ever seen. As I was telling Mama about the clouds, a woman who I think was in the back of the store let out a blood-curdling scream, and the next thing I knew some man grabbed my sister and me and threw us under a counter. That man was killed.
My sister and I came through relatively well. Something big and heavy hit me (the doctor said it was probably a brick) and might have knocked me out briefly. My mother fared much worse. There was an open wound on her head and she was bleeding profusely. She wasn't among the worst injured, though, because we weren't the first to be carried away. Before long a man in a pickup took us and quite a few other people to the hospital. He put my sister, me and a couple other kids in the front and the adults in the back. I was traumatized for years by the image of my mother in the back of that truck, in the pouring rain, with a white towel that was quickly turning red wrapped around her head.
In the end we were all okay, but that was the scariest experience of my life. I still have dreams about it once in a long while. I used to have a regular nightmare. I'd be at a cinema when a thunderstorm begins. At some point during the picture the thunder gets so loud that I get up to go see what's happening outside. When I look out the front door I see a tornado coming straight at the cinema. I quickly decide to jump over the concession counter and crawl under it, but suddenly the counter is so high that I can barely reach the top. As I'm trying and trying to pull myself up onto that counter, I wake up.
The fact that the concession counter suddenly grows several feet taller puzzled me for a long time. Then one day it occurred to me that, at age 6, ALL concession counters were probably too tall for me to see over. That was about a decade ago and I haven't had that nightmare since.
We moved to the city when I was six. My dad always said he gave up the farm because of the symphony and the library.
We used to go to the public library every Saturday morning, mom and dad upstairs and us kids downstairs. We could borrow four books for two weeks, so we'd have two batches going at once.
I read Treasure Island in French and about forty times in English. I read a prequel called The Adventures of Ben Gunn and a sequel called Back to Treasure Island.
(Years later, I read Rien Poortvliet's books in Dutch. My parents had spoken Low German to each other when they didn't want us to know what they were saying. I never learned to speak it, but I could understand more than they thought - and Dutch is a lot like Low German.)
I read Kidnapped and The Black Arrow. I read The Treasure Hunt of the S-18 and The Return of the Alaskan and Master of Morgana - I always liked boats. My little brother liked Freddie the Pig, so I read that whole series too.
I especially liked Edwin Tunis' books about colonial living and craftsmen, etc. I liked books on how to make things. (My other passion is tools, but I'll leave that for another chapter.)
Today I have an extimated seven hundred books in my living room, and many more hidden away in cupboards and closets.
I grew up in the country and when I wasn't wandering through the creeks, fields and pastures with the dogs (Dad didn't like cats), I enjoyed reading animal stories such as the Black Stallion series and Call of the Wild. I did have a pet pig at one time though.
I also enjoyed the original Elsie Dinsmore series that was written in the late 1800's. I've been searching antique stores and collecting the series. I don't have all of them yet, but getting close.
Since I was the oldest, I was on call to help Dad whenever he needed it. Unfortunately he figured if I had time to read, I needed something to do. So finding time to read was difficult and cherished.
I don't know how many books I have, but they are overflowing my house. I don't like getting rid of books.
In high school I spent time getting my grandfather to write his life story. He was born in 1897. In his day you could put a car together in your garage from scraps if you were so inclined and the Indianapolis 500 was a dirt track. I've carried it around for years and haven't got it typed up yet. Guess I need to get busy. :)