The earliest memory I have was of the day Erin was brought home from the hospital. I believe I was sitting in the big whicker chair, which was next to the door. I believe Aunt Reggie was watching me and I remember jumping out of the chair in excitement when my parents were walking up the walkway with my new little sister. I was just under two at that point.
I also remember when my mom was pregnant with Adam. I believe that was the house on Beacon Hill, with a park right down the street. I remember her putting my hand on her belly and feeling Adam kick. We were standing on the walkway where I remember puzzling out the morality of killing ants, and next to a tree with big gnarled roots (or so they seemed at the time) where I remember swinging a stick through the air and being amazed at the swooshing noise it made.
I remember a lot of other things from around then, too. The backyard was a steep hill with a little creek running behind it. We weren’t allowed to go past the trees, but I remember walking along the creek to the park with David, my cousin. He told me about immortal elves that lived there. He told me years later that that conversation upset me. His guess was that it was the first time I considered mortality.
Dad built a landscape wall in the backyard there. I skinned me knee on it and cried, although I don’t think it hurt until I saw the blood. Pretty sure I got a Band-Aid for that.
There was an elderly lady next door (to the right if you’re facing the front of the house). Dad would sometimes kill snakes for her with a machete or something that he had. I remember going up the hill in her backyard with him once. He got one, killed it and took it to her.
Aunt Reggie made capes with little elastic necks for me and Erin (or was it Mum Mum who made them?). I think I said I was Batman. I remember taking Dixie paper cups, punching out the bottoms of them and putting one on either of my wrists to give myself bracers like He-Man had.
How about me giving you rides on the motor scooter I had? I would put you on the seat behind me, strap you to me with a belt, put your football helmet on you and ride you around the back yard. You loved it! Speaking of football helmets…. do you remember your first haircut? You wouldn’t go unless you could wear your football helmet. Then your Mom had to bribe you with candy to get you to take the helmet off so the lady could cut your hair. You were not a happy camper! Sometimes when I’m feeling a little blue I think about that haircut and it makes me laugh. Then I’m not blue anymore.
I do remember riding on the scooter! I remember one specific time, just going down the street. And I’ve heard the haircut story before, but I don’t personally remember it. The next part of the story goes that I hit the lady in the mouth with my head, and she had just had her molars out or some such.
Also, you were my first “traveling buddy” (AJ being the second. Adam and Erin never wanted to be a traveling buddy). I use to take you every where with me. I always enjoyed that. Speaking of traveling. Remember when you came down to Texas the summer we went overseas? I lived in my house in Flower Mound. One Saturday I was cooking dinner and I needed something from the store. You had gotten your drivers license that year so I asked you if you would drive to the store to get what I needed. It should have only taken you 30 minutes, 40 at the most but you were gone for almost 3 hours. You took a wrong turn out of the subdivision and got lost. You couldn’t remember my phone number and couldn’t look it up because I had an unlisted number and of course this was pre-cell phone days. You did find a store and did get what I needed and finally found your way home. I think you were afraid I was going to be upset but I wasn’t. Since I always called you David Jr. because you always seemed to get lost, I really wasn’t worried. I thought you might have gotten lost. Anyway, everything worked out fine… but you didn’t want to go to the store for me anymore!
I definitely remember getting lost, but I was going to save that for later. I guess at some point I’ll have to start a page with memories after I was five years old.
At the mall one time, Erin and I were playing in the rings of clothes in a department store. We were with Uncle Roy and he told us that if a pregnant lady saw us hiding in there, she’d be so scared her baby would jump out of her belly and die. He would also call us Camel Lips. The first time I heard They’re Coming to Take Me Away was in his white truck, which had a camper on the back. That song would always freak me out- I’d think of monkeys swinging through the trees on their way to get me.
The first time I remember watching The Wizard of Oz was at the afore-mentioned elderly next door neighbor lady’s house, I think on a Halloween. That night I had nightmares of the flying monkeys flying through the air to get me. I remember that dream pretty vividly considering I had it over twenty years ago. I think they might have even been carrying me in their flight. That or I was on one’s back, or hanging onto its tail. It’s amazing I like monkeys as much as I do.
Even though I remember playing with worms and rolly-pollies, I think I mostly did that so as to not be shown up by Erin (which I think is also why I came up with an imaginary friend). Erin loved rolly-pollies. Anyway, I never liked getting my hands all dirty and such, and in some pre-school class, we were pasting some paper onto something (probably some other paper). I didn’t like having to dip my fingers into the paste because I didn’t like getting the gunk on myself, so I decided to dip the paper directly into the paste. I got in trouble for doing it that way, which I thought was horribly unfair as it stifled my innovative thinking and problem solving skills.
I remember Thanksgiving there when we sang My Country ‘Tis of Thee and I had cornbread for the first time, which I really liked.
I remember nap time, when the teacher (or whatever) would pick someone to go around and wake up the other kids. I remember playing with the little plastic dinosaurs, but there was some disappointment; I think maybe there was no triceratops, which was always my favorite dinosaur.
I had a favorite shirt that I’d gotten from King’s Dominion. It was based on the ride The Bat, which I most surely was not able to ride. At any rate, the shirt had the face and text from this logo:
The best thing about it though was that it had a black fringed cape attached to the shoulders. When I first got the shirt I went to pre-school with the cape thrown over my head and asked a friend if he knew who I was. (Of course, he did.)
My dad had a joke I completely did not get:
Dad: Knock, knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Me: Cantaloupe who?
Dad: Can’t elope now, Pop’s got the car!
No matter how many times he tried to explain what eloping was, the concept was just too foreign to me. So I came up with a joke of my own:
Me: Knock, knock.
Dad: Who’s there?
Me: G.I. Joe!
Yeah, that’s all there was to it. I remember getting frustrated at a maze in a coloring book once too, so I made up my own rules. It was either in a Fantastic Four or Star Wars coloring book, and instead of turning at the walls, I made either R2D2 or the Human Torch just blast right through the walls of the maze to get to the goal.
Do you remember the squirrel episode? Your Mom and I picked you and Erin up from day care. We were in my car, I was driving and we weren’t that far from home. A squirrel ran out in front of the car and I ran over it and killed it. Your Mom got very upset and wanted me to go back to see if the squirrel was really dead. I wasn’t about to drive back to see if the squirrel was dead. I figured that was someone’s meal… road kill! Anyway, I’ve digressed. When we got home your Dad was already home. You walked in and said to your Dad…. why did the squirrel cross the road? Your Dad said he didn’t know. So you said… so it could get run over by Aunt Robbie! You thought that was so funny. I think you were either 4 or 5 when that happened. Your joke has lasted a long time.
I had a good number of toys, thinking back on it. I had a lot of Star Wars figures, which I wish I still had. I got an X-Wing fighter one year and the landing gear broke, so Dad used a lighter to melt it back on. I was always impressed that he thought to do something like that, even if it was kind of ugly. Mum Mum and Pup Pup got me the Millennium Falcon one year, but that might have been after we moved to Durham.
I remember getting a He-Man figure one day and riding in the car with it. The figure was a blue version of He-Man with orange hair, and he was supposed to be a doppelganger to fool He-Man’s friends, but I thought the blue skin and orange hair were a bit of a giveaway. I remember the smell of that toy. It was a new toy, stored-up plastic smell that I’ll sometimes get a whiff of when opening computer parts, and it always takes me back to that.
I got a Star Wars laser blaster and lightsaber for my birthday one year. Both made noises and would light up. My parents were better to us about that kind of thing than I ever knew until thinking about it now. I remember a G.I. Joe tank that would actually roll on its own with batteries (which it rarely had) that I got for Christmas one year, along with a G.I. Joe themed Power Wheels. Erin got a pink Barbie themed one.
I do remember a pretty funny story from a Christmas in the house on Beacon Hill. I think I had already moved to Durham but I, as I always did back then, came home for Christmas. That year for Christmas you wanted GI Joe stuff so I told everyone to buy you GI Joe toys. I think I got you a tank and a GI Joe figure. Uncle Roy, your Mom and Dad (or was it Santa Clause?), MumMum and PupPup and I think Aunt Reggie all got you some type of GI Joe toy. But every time you opened a GI Joe toy you thanked me for it. I couldn’t convince you that I didn’t buy all the GI Joe stuff. You said that you had told me that you wanted GI Joe toys and you knew that I had bought them for you. So I got all the credit for your Christmas that year! It was pretty funny.
I remember Dad and Uncle Bernie throwing me to each other across the living room at Baba and Pap’s. It probably wasn’t really all that far, but it seemed like it then, and it was so fun.
Mum Mum and Baba took me and Erin to see E.T. The part where he was sick was scary. I remember Dad taking me to see Popeye and Disney’s Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound and The Sword in the Stone. At least one of those was on our birthday.
I think Aunt Robbie and Mom took me to a UK basketball game. I know Aunt Robbie took me to at least one Cincinnati Reds game.
Oh, yes, it was your Mom and me that took you to a UK basketball game. UK was playing Notre Dame in Louisville and UK won. Your Dad didn’t get to go because the day of the game we discovered a leaking water pipe in the basement (in my room). Your dad tried to fix it and I think ended up calling a plumber. Anyway, the pipe wasn’t fixed by the time we had to leave so your Dad stayed home. But you know me and how I am about UK basketball… so your Mom, you and I went on to the game. We sold your Dad’s ticket (for face value) to someone outside the coliseum. I think you almost fell alseep during the game!
Some other time, I remember having taken a bus downtown with Mom.
I think I sang You Are My Sunshine to Mom. She’s told me that when she sang it to me once, I covered my ears and yelled at her to stop. I feel terrible about that even now. I seem to have a way of ruining sweet moments.
On Saturday mornings I would get up and ask Aunt Robbie (who lived with us) if the cartoons were on yet. She’d say no and I’d climb into bed with her to wait for the cartoons to come on.
Do you remember what you use to do to me to wake me up to ask me if it was time for cartoons? You always seemed to come into my bedroom about 4:00am. You would stand at the side of the bed and wait for me to see you which was a little hard since your head barely came to the top of the mattress. If I didn’t wake up right away, you would take your fingers and try to pry my eyelids open (Linda does the same thing to me when she wants me to wake up). The first few times you did that it scared the crap out of me. But you were too cute to get mad at. In fact, if you really want to know, I started looking forward to you waking me up to watch cartoons. I would just tell you to get into bed until cartoons came on which was 6:00 am. I hate to say it, but that was before we had cable and stations didn’t stay on all night like they do now. See, you are getting old too! By the way, your Dad finally got you to stop coming in my bedroom early in the morning. I told your Dad and your Mom that I didn’t mind but they wanted to teach you to mind your parents when they tell you not to do something. And believe me, they had to tell you a few times not to wake me up before you finally stopped coming in so early.
I also remember us watching cartoons in Durham. Do you remember how we would watch He-Man cartoons everyday? And when we lived in the first house in Durham, you would come down stairs to my den and we would watch the Smurfs, He-Man and Fraggle Rock? Boy! I loved it when we would watch TV together. Sometimes we would pretend that you were He-Man and play with your He-Man toys.