I heard a story on NPR yesterday morning about memories, but I’ve forgotten most of it already. This might be amusing if it wasn’t actually true. Yes, I can’t even remember any significant details about a story I heard on the topic of memory from one day ago. But I will summarize: You will get old, and your memory will start to suck. The end. I’m sure NPR used classier words, though.
I was always one of those annoying people who claimed to have memories from a freakishly early age. Except for other people who have freakishly early memories, most people don’t believe me, but I don’t know why not. What would I stand to gain by lying? After hearing this story, it did make me start to wonder if my earliest memories would eventually be purged, too. And it got me thinking about some of my remaining early memories. Most of them have to do with food or toys or other material goods. I will spare you my litany of unique personal memories, such as my father waking me up with his off-key rendition of, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” (is there a better line than the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye?) or the opening orchestral strains of the original All My Children theme song, signaling my afternoon nap.
Here are some things I still remember from my early childhood. Perhaps you do, too?
Lemon Up Shampoo – While most of my friends remember the 1970s classic shampoo Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, I remember this old gem, usually perched next to the original green bottle of Clairol Herbal Essence.
Silly Putty – Oh, how I loved this stuff. Now that I’m a mother, I understand why my mother hated it. Essentially, it’s like flesh colored chewing gum, only more difficult to remove from carpeting. But an afternoon with a fresh egg of Silly Putty and the comics? Heaven.
Our red Dodge Dart Swinger – My dad always loved cars. I’m pretty sure our red Dodge Dart Swinger wasn’t the Lexus of its day, but I thought it was pretty cool, probably because it was red. Had I any idea what swinger meant, I would have been mortified, even at age four.
The shiny silver knobs of cigarette machines (the only thing available to play with while our father dragged us to new car dealerships for hours on end. See above.) – When my kids complain that they’re bored, I tell them my only toy on a long Saturday afternoon was a cigarette machine, and that usually shuts them up.
Romper Stompers – Before you start feeling too sorry for me, please know I also had some real toys, such as Romper Stompers, which appear to have been designed by a personal injury attorney. These originally appeared on Romper Room, where Miss Louise NEVER said the name Dawn in her magic mirror, not even once. Thanks, Mom.
Flintstones Vitamins – I loved the edgy humor of The Flintstones cartoon, and I loved my daily chewable Flintstones vitamin. It may have tasted like chalk soaked in Tab cola, but I didn’t care. I looked forward to that thing every single day. Flintstones vitamins remind me so much of my childhood — a little bit kitschy, a little bit sweet, and full of good intentions. I hope I always remember that.