Share a childhood memory that makes you smile.

My sister and I used to play a game where we would see who could make it around the living room without touching the floor. You had to jump from the couch to the chair, then to the love seat, then the piano bench before making it back to the couch. The piano bench was always a challenge because it was wooden and slippery and if you weren’t careful, this is surely the place where you would fall and touch the floor.

Also, when we would have someone visiting overnight, they would get my sister’s room and she would sleep in my room with me. We would stay up late and talk and laugh (facing eachother). When it was time to go to sleep, one of us would roll over and always apologize for it. “Don’t think that I’m being mean or ignoring you, I’m just tired and I usually sleep on my other side.”

We were probably around the ages of 10 and 7…the good old days. :slight_smile:

Much of my childhood was spent pootling around the country in my dad’s lorry. So there are lots of fond memories* of that - mucking about in scrapyards, reading my comics in the cab, climbing all over stuff on the flatbed, things like that.

One trip, we were headed to the docks in Southampton (I think) and my dad kept on about me seeing some giant crayons. Just loads of 100 foot crayons. I thought we were headed to, like, a Crayola factory and my imagination was working overtime.

So we got there and my dad excitedly pointed at these giant crayons through the windscreen; he bloody loved the things. The nine year old me was less impressed as I discovered that ‘crayons’ was how my dear old dad pronounced ‘cranes’. Man, I teased him something silly on the ride back.
*Less fond: the smell of diesel that permeated everything, including me sarnies.

Back in the 50s there were no department stores in the suburbs, but plenty of them downtown. So whenever my mother needed something we’d go downtown on a streetcars. Back then, going downtown was an event, and my mother would wear a suit and hat (often with a veil) and gloves. We always ate at one of the department store restaurants, especially one that was all art deco in black stone and chrome. Or we’d stop at a restaurant that had fantastic ice cream dishes.

That’s the “upside.” The “downside” was that as the streetcar neared downtown, it went through a part of the city called the “flats.” This was the industrial part of the city, full of steel mills, and a time before there were any restrictions on pollutants. Even with all the streetcar windows closed, some of the smell got in, and it was horrible. Just looking out the window, everything was smokey, and the houses were old and gray, from the paint eroding off. The only people who got on or off in this part of the city were black. They were the only black people I ever saw in person, and they were dirt poor, and with all that pollution they probably didn’t live long. I remember some of the women wore colors that the white people I knew would never wear. One lady wore a bright yellow dress with purple trim. I had never seen anyone wear those colors together. I was amazed.

I remember my mother telling me that they were just like anyone else, and it wasn’t their fault that they were poor. I’ll never forget those gray houses and that smell . . . and that lady’s yellow and purple dress.


First, going shopping in downtown Jackson, MS to Gayfer’s and McRae’s with my elderly maiden aunt and great-grandmother. If I was a Very Good Girl, I we’d go to Krystal after, and it had this amazing S shaped lunch counter. This was in the early 70s, and going downtown was an event. We’d also go to the park across from Galloway United Methodist church (it was new then) and if I was not in patent leather shoes, I might be allowed to jump from white rock to white rock in the small stream (fountain?) there. Being out with my aunt and my grandmother was the best.

Second: My aunt (my great grandmother’s daughter, my great aunt) would occassionally allow me to spend the weekend with her. She was young then, just in her 30s. (My family is odd - my father was adopted when he was 12 by my grandfather, who was then 24. Thus I have a huge number of great and great-great older relatives who weren’t all that old when I was a kid, plus this aunt is 10 years younger than my grandfather, it’s his sister.) I was allowed to sleep late and watch cartoons. She was and still is into very abstract art, so we’d sit on the couch and look at this huge piece she had that took up half her living room wall - it was block shapes in random patterns - and find “pictures” in it “Oh look, if you trace these shapes together, it’s a left handed quarterback!” :slight_smile: Then she’d take me to the drug store in Belhaven and we’d have tuna melts and soda at the lunch counter - again, this is the early-mid 70s. I felt like a grown up, going to lunch with my aunt.

My maiden aunt (my great-great aunt, in her early 70s at this time) took me to church (the one mentioned above) on Sundays. I would finish my Sunday school class early sometimes, and I was allowed to sneak very quietly into hers. Usually this was timed to the last song and final prayer, and I would hold her hand while she sang. This was a Sunday school class full of widowed and unmarried older ladies - mostly ex schoolteachers and college professors, as they all hailed from an age when married women didn’t work. After church we’d eat in the church hall, and they all loved me. Miss Stella raced me to drink our cokes. Mary and Margaret Ward made me cornhusk dolls. Miss Margaret told me really funny jokes. Miss Elizabeth was sweet, and smiled all the time. I loved them all and had hugs and kisses for them - most had no children or grandchildren, so they treated me like their own. All of them are gone now, the last one just a couple of years ago.

When my son was christened, Mary Ward (one of the last of the ladies) told me how proud my aunt would have been. That was when I realised how much I loved those ladies and how much I’d learned from them all.

Good memories. I hadn’t thought of this in so long. Thanks Skald!

That’s often what happens when you raise kids in this country - you celebrate everything just to be sure.

Going to the library and getting my first library card. I had taught myself to read at age 4, and it seemed forever before I turned six, the minimum age for a card.

My four siblings and I would often walk to and from the library in the dark all my ourselves. In order to not feel scared, we would sing. I was always so happy then.

My mother says this memory isn’t real. I’ve told her I don’t care, maybe it’s my memory that’s faulty and not hers but it still gives me the warm fuzzies.

Pamplona’s weather is pretty wet; it’s also the kind of place where, if the sun is out in the morning and you think “oh, it’s so nice out, I’ll finish my chores and then go for a walk”, by the time you’re leaving it will be grey and/or drizzling again. “It’s so nice out” is time to go for a walk now, before it spoils again.

Between the time I was 9mo and my 5th birthday we lived on the 9th floor of a very high building which was surrounded by its own parking lot, a couple of roads and fields. There was another, shorter building, in the same development; a low building across one road; the local soccer club’s stadium half a kilometer along that same road. It was your standard Middle of Nowhere location and then some, while actually close enough from town that a grown-up would just walk there.

I remember climbing on the child-sized table I had, trying to reach the window. I remember finally reaching it on a sunny day, and seeing the fallow field across the road, the grassy one that sloped down, and it was all covered in daisies. All I could see from up there was that there were white things in the field, but I knew them to be the little white daisies with the bright pink marks at the end of each petal (which I also saw in San Francisco, a place whose weather seems to be similar; a lot of the plants I saw in SF are common around Pamplona). It was just so perfect, the sun and the grass and the daisies…

When I was a little kid, one of the biggest treats we could get was going out to Kopp’s Frozen Custard. (It’s like ice cream, but better!) They make the best Dutch chocolate custard, and even a small cone has two huge scoops heaped up. I would try so hard to catch all the drips and eat my ice cream neatly, but I always ended up with chocolate smeared all around my face, hands, and usually on my shirt as well. There’s a photo up at my dad’s house of my brother and I when we were probably about 4 and 6 years old, chocolate all over and grinning like fools.

I still go to Kopp’s every time I’m home in Milwaukee, but I’m much neater about eating it now!

tdn, your story about your dad reminded me of mine:

Until I was about twelve or so, my family and friends of ours would rent batches that were next to each other, and spend the week by the beach. I loved going there, the other family had two daughters in the same age range as me and my brothers, and we used to go swimming, play cricket and generally rove around.

The adults would drink and play cards, and, most nights, go for a walk along the beach at around midnight. I was always a night owl, and once, when I was about eight or nine, was still up when they were getting ready to go out and allowed to come along too.

The beach took probably an hour to walk the length and back of, and I really clearly walking along in the pitch darkenss, holding the dolphin torch and having my father tell me about how New Zealand was settled, and where the Maori might have come from, and why the Treaty was important. It was the first history lesson I’d ever had, and I can’t imagine a more perfect way to learn about the past; under the night stars with the waves crashing near our feet.

As I posted above, though I taught myself to read at age 4, I resisted all efforts to learn how to write. I simply did not see any use in it.

One December day, right before my birthday, my older brother and I were looking into store windows when I saw a book with a word I’d never seen on it. “What’s a diary?” I asked my brother. “A book where you can write down what happened to you every day.”

I felt a light bulb go off in my head. I could write down what happened and read about it later? When we got home, I immediately picked up my brother’s writing book and taught myself cursive. I started kee[ing a diary that Christmas Day, which was my eighth birthday. I still do.

I learned how to print much later, and it’s still very hard for me. When I was 12, I had a test which determined I had very poor eye-hand coordination, which doesn’t help when learning to write.

When I was about 7 or 8, my mother got a call from my grandmother one morning. Seems Grandmother had been invited by a friend to visit, and needed a ride. Now, in those days, Mom didn’t work, so technically, there was no stopping her from being Grandmother’s chauffeur. But it was summer and there was no school; and what would she do about my younger sister and I?

“Bring the children along,” said Grandmother. “My friend lives on a horse farm. They’ll love it.”

Naturally, I was quite excited. A horse farm! Maybe we could go riding! Better than a hot day in the city, that’s for sure. So, we piled in the car, and picked up Grandmother, and off we went.

When we got there, we found that it was indeed a horse farm, but Grandmother’s friend had no intention of letting children into the barn or near the paddocks. In fact, she had no intention of doing anything other than having a nice, ladylike, tea party in the farmhouse. My sister didn’t seem to mind; finally, instead of with her dolls, she was a guest at a real, live tea party with other ladies. But it got boring for me real fast. Mom noticed.

“Come on,” Mom said to me. She excused herself and me from the tea party, and we went outside. Mom took me over to the horse paddocks, and we leaned over the fence to meet the horses. We gathered the nice green grass from outside the fence, and the horses ate it from our hands.

When we tired of that, we went wandering around the property. There was a small creek that meandered its way through part of it, and Mom and I went to investigate. There were little fish in the creek, and water bugs scooting around on the surface. “How many can you catch?” asked Mom. “Bet I can catch more than you.” So, off with shoes and socks, and Mom hiked her skirt and we waded in. I don’t remember who caught more bugs, but I do remember a lot of laughter as we tried.

One of the nicest memories I have of my Mom–the long-ago day when she rescued me from a boring tea party and and we met the horses and tried to catch water bugs.

I smile when I think about the day my parents got divorced.

I was 3 and my mom took me to sign the papers. My sisters were in school so it was just the 2 of us. Usually my dad stayed home with me while my mom worked and I didn’t like him. Since my mom worked 2 jobs, I didn’t see her much. So, after the papers were signed, my mom took me to a grassy area near wherever it was she signed the papers and she gave me some chocolate milk and a candy bar and I got to run and play in the grass. After that my mom and I went home and watched TV until my sisters came home and ruined everything.
I remember a Christmas that was going to be really dreary. It was just after my parents got divorced and we didn’t have money. I was too young to really care but my sisters were just old enough to really look forward to presents and a tree. Christmas morning we woke up to 1 present each and a wreath instead of a tree. My mom looked out the front door and saw that someone had left us a huge decorated tree (artificial so we could reuse it), a garbage bag filled with presents, another filled with clothing, and a third filled with food. We never did figure out who left it all.
A few years later, we were living in the city and my mom was going to school. We lived in a not so nice neighborhood and we were on welfare. We didn’t have anything nice. My sisters slept on a bunk bed someone had given us but I slept on a pile of blankets on the floor. My mom worked in the co-op office at her school and there was a nun who worked across the hall. Her name was Sister Helen. She used to watch me while my mom was in class or working, even though she wasn’t a babysitter. Sister Helen knew how bad we had it so she arranged for someone to drop by our house and leave us a new fridge filled with food. She also left us a custom made dollhouse (one of her nun friends made them). It was 3 sections with 2 floors each. It was filled with custom made furniture, curtains, flooring. The dollhouse living room had 3 pictures on the wall. My sisters and I were in them. I can’t even imagine how long it must have taken to build and decorate that. Sister Helen must have somehow arranged this with our landlord because they got into our house without us knowing.

Rhymers are curmudgeonly grouches who hate everyone, so clearly I am unaffected by this story. There’s just some sand in my eye, that all.

I am not going to cry, I am not going to cry…

I have a brother one year younger than me, and I always laugh when I think how we used to play and fight together. On Saturday mornings, we would watch cartoons, and if a commercial for candy or toys came on, one of us was sure to say to the other, “I bet you want that.” Of course, the accused would totally deny it, but it never stopped the instigator from saying, “Well, you can’t have it.”
Another time, we nibbled away at least half a Nerf football by daring each other to eat some of it.
Then there was the time we pulled on my brother’s Stretch Armstrong action figure until he tore in half, flinging us both into the walls. There were blue rubber bands in there!
We each had a small beanbag Kermit doll, and we got an amazing amount of mileage out of those things. (His usually wore Tonto’s fringed Indian shirt so we could tell them apart). We used them mostly as little green air guitarists while we listened to the radio, but we also would do stuff like tie them to the ceiling fan so they could fly. When they flew off, they’d hit the wall with a THWOCK! (“What are you kids doing in there?” “Nothing!”)
We also had a game where we would play-fight next to our great-grandma’s chair. She would get very agitated and try to poke us with her cane, saying, “Cathy…Danny…Travis…” etc. Whoever’s name she remembered first was the loser.

I feel sorry for my kids. Being five years apart, they never had such stupid fun with each other.

I have several such memories I can share - I don’t know why this one popped into my mind when I read this, but, since it came to mind first, I’ll share:

I remember when they renumbered our street, our house number 22 changed to 214. Because of that I remember as kids my sister and I would play with the old 2s that were, until recently, on the front of our house (our parents gave them to us as toys) - I remember one time we pretended they were sandwiches and pretended to eat them.

Oh, sorry, I thought the title said “Share a dorky childhood memory that makes you smile.” Does explain a lot about me, though.

Now that I think about it, this definitely must have been one of my earliest childhood memories, this would have to have taken place when we were living up north (and keep in mind this was “up north” for a Canadian - near the shores of Hudson Bay) and we moved here to Winnipeg just before I turned 8 - I have very few memories of “up north”, and I’m sure that our house number was 214 for quite a while before we moved, so I must have been really young. (My sister, by the way, had just turned 6 when we moved.)

I remember my dad taking me, at perhaps age 8 or so, into Manhattan for a business meeting, after which we went to Horn & Hardart’s for lunch. The Horn & Hardart automat was done in an old style, reminiscent of steampunk in my memory. There was a wall of food, each item behind glass, and you put the requisite number of coins into the slot and the door would open, allowing you to take the item. Totally amazing to the 8-year-old mind!

Some memories:

Every year my family would rent a beach house during the week of the 4th of July. I have lots of good memories, but this one stands out. My Dad had been wade fishing in the surf for quite a while. I decided to try my hand at it. I waded out to him, borrowed his rod, and proceeded to catch two fish right in a row - boom! boom! - while he hadn’t caught any at all. :smiley: Later he pronounced me “Queen Fisherwoman.”

Another year was a particularly fun one for my brother and me. Blue crabs were spawning or something, and we could scoop crabs up by the cooler-full on the beach! At first my mom was happy, then she made us stop because we didn’t have any more room. I remember that I didn’t have any shoes (not unusual, I still hate shoes!) and the crabs were everywhere. Dat’s some good eatin’, lemme tell ya… (Not my toes! ;))

Other years we went crabbing the traditional way, with a chicken neck tied to the end of a string. Pulling the string in slowly, slowly, inch by inch - then WHAM! Scoop that crab up with the net. My mom was the best crabber ever. :slight_smile:

I love the memories of our family fishing and crabbing. :slight_smile:

I have wanted to start a thread on “nice things strangers did for you as a child” but this is the perfect place for those experiences.

Memory #1
I remember when I was four or five, still too young to go to school like my brother, and my mom would take me shopping with her. One day as we were walking by a set of gumball machines there was a guy filling up one of the machines.
He waved at us, and then he motioned for me to come closer. He told me to hold out my hands, and then he filled them with as many huge gumballs as I could hold.

Memory #2
At the same age, I remember my mom taking me to the Toledo Zoo, while my brother was in school. We were looking at the tortoises when one of the zookeepers asked me if I wanted a ride.
He had me climb over the short fence and let me sit on top of a great big tortoise as he waved bits of vegetation in front of the creature to encourage him to move. I still remember hearing the voice of some kid saying “Mommy, why is that boy on the tortoise?” I still have the picture of a very little me sitting on the back of that tortoise.

Memory #3
At a younger age, I remember my brother and I climbing into the back seat of my mom’s car as she picked it up at the auto shop. We found little plastic children’s toys salt-and-peppered in the back seat and floor—one of the mechanics must have put them there for us.

Memory #4
And then there was the time I was in the hospital for eye surgery when I was five. I shared a room with a “big kid”—a teenager named Marty. The day I was going to leave he gave me these really neat little animals made out of some sort of plasticy porcelain kind of stuff. My favorite was a shiny black seal.

Oh my god. Oh my god.

Remember the sight - and smell! - when the guy opened those back doors?

My dad was an audiophile and a tinkerer. He built his own Heathkit-based stereo system, including a couple of enormous, beautifully finished speakers. He used to go to the electronics stores and audio stores, many of which were one and the same. Occasionally he’d take me with him and I’d noodle around in the store looking at stuff and admiring the components. One time he surprised me by calling my nickname through a speaker I was checking out in the quiet room. What a shock, but it just reinforced my belief that my dad could do anything.

I miss my Dad. Sand in my eyes, too.

When I was a kid, probably from around age 8-10 or so, I collected Richie Rich comic books. This was back in the days when there were literally around 20 Richie Rich titles every month, so there were 4 or 5 of them out every week. Tuesday was comic book day, and my mom would go to the drugstore and pick up the week’s supply for me. She’d always leave them on my bed. When I got home, I’d ask her excitedly, “Any little surprises?” It was like a ritual. And she’d smile and say, “Well, I don’t know, you’ll have to go look.” And I’d dash happily down the hall to find my little stash of treasures for the week.

My mom’s still with us, but her short-term memory isn’t what it used to be. She still remembers things long ago, though. Next time I see her, I should ask her about that. To this day, Richie Rich comics make me smile. I still have a few.