Friday, February 06, 2015


One day at work, years and years ago,  there was a conversation about memories and the question was asked of me "what was your first memory".  Of course, the lady asking the question was one of the disagreeable sort so she immediately disputed me saying that I  most certainly couldn't remember "that" -- I just remembered what somebody had told me.

She was wrong. 

I was born in San Antonio, Texas in February, 1950.  We lived in a house on a street named Zilla.  The name of the street was later changed to Clower but that was after we had moved. I don't remember living in the house on Zilla as we moved when I was ten months old to a house on Lee Hall Street, about five blocks away.

  The neighborhood was typical of the time -- small white houses clad in asbestos shingles with colored roofs and matching window shutters.

My cousin who lived across the street -- if you look to the left in the distance, you will see our white fence
 Each house was approximately 950 square feet and was placed on a very large lot with two Arizona Ash trees in the yard, at the curb, and a couple of bushes by the front steps.  These houses were part of the post-War housing boom -- after all, all those soldiers had to have someplace to hang their civilian hats and VA loans were plentiful. 

Me at about 2 in front of our house -- blue roof, blue shutters
The same house in about 1985 -- light green roof, no shutters

 I do remember moving day, however.  There was an "event" and I remember it vividly although it was a fleeting moment.  We had two bedrooms in the new house and my mother set me on the floor in the "back" bedroom as they moved in a large plate glass mirror.  Whoever was doing the moving -- I have no idea who it was - leaned the mirror against the largest wall and left.

Obviously not the same mirror but a close approximation

 I don't know if there was some movement or vibration or if they just hadn't been careful when placing it in the room but the mirror slid neatly onto the floor and shattered into a million pieces.  It must have sounded like a bomb going off because I distinctly remember my mother running into the room yelling "my beautiful baby" as I sat in a sea of broken glass.  I don't remember crying but my mother was terrified that I had been injured by the flying glass.  I wasn't.  Not a scratch.  I think I was a bit bewildered because things happened very quickly but I was fine.  I think, however, that was my mother's first step to becoming a very nervous woman.

I have one other memory that is quite vivid.  This is the one that my co-worker disputed but I know better.  The front bedroom of the house was my parents room.  It was about 12 by 12 with two windows and a very small closet.  These houses were very well built and servicable but very plain -- no grand mouldings or trims of any sort -- generic, common baseboards and door facings (although all the interior doors were panelled doors with faceted glass doorknobs) and everything was pretty much painted white.  My crib was in my parents room.  I remember their bed was on the large wall that was also the living room wall and my crib was in front of the window.  My mother always kept the venetian blinds at a tilt to let in a bit of light and my mental vision of this particular memory is swathed in a milky blue light that you would associate with, perhaps, early morning.  I had a bottle, it seems, and I remember holding my mother's hand through the slats on my crib.  I remember feeling happy and content and I remember loving my mother.

Me in my crib -- sorry for the state of the photo -- my pics have led a hard life

Many things have happened to me in my life -- mostly good, nothing horrible just normal life "things" -- some I remember well, some memories are vague but these two memories have always been with me and are strong in my mind.  The mirror incident doesn't incite anxiety in me but rather a feeling that it is incredible that I wasn't hurt.  The hand-holding memory I hold dear.  Whenever I think about my mother my thoughts invariably go back to this memory.

So, I have to ask, what is your earliest memory?