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My First Memory

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My mom is sitting in a soft chair or sofa and my ear is against her chest. There are other people in the room but I don't recognize anyone. She is talking and even though I don't understand a word she says I love the muffled sounds she makes. I feel so secure. It now occurs to me that is probably how she sounded when I was in the womb. This is my first memory and it is only a few moments long. I have no idea when it is or how old I am. I only know that my butt is on her lap and my ear is low on her chest at heart level. That makes me pretty small.

My First "First Time" Memory
(age seven)

You can only have one first memory but what about memories of first times? You can have lots of those. You can be a hundred years old and do something you have never done before so that makes it a "first time" memory. I'm sure my first memory is not of the first time I sat on my mother's lap. Do you remember sitting on your mother's lap the first time. I'll bet you don't. How about your first birthday? First car ride? I'll bet you do remember the first time you drove a car. But now, I ask you, what is your first "first time" memory. My first "first time" memory is sliding into my first desk which was in first grade. This desk was one of those whose cast iron frame was bolted to a runner on the floor. There were two wooden shelves bolted to the top of the frame one above the other. The table part had a groove for pencils or pens and an ink well in it but of course there was no ink for first graders. The lower shelf made a compartment to stick your books. On the front of the frame was a flat board which provided a back rest foor the person in front of you and a fold up wooden board which provided the seat. The whole row of desks that were bolted to the runners could be moved in one piece for cleaning the floor. This was the first of thousands of times I would slide into my desk in different classes over the years. This "first time" memory is immediately followed by my second "first time" memory. The first time I would behold the vision of a girl on whom I would have a crush. Miss Kulbeck, my first grade teacher, had dark brown shoulder length hair, a thin face with V-shape chin line and slender body. She would have been in her early to mid twenties. She wore a black full dress that ended at mid-calf. The sleeves which ended mid upper arm ballooned out slightly then were tied tightly to the arm with a white ribbon interwoven through the hem of the sleeve. The collar was trimmed with white piping. A wide black belt made from the same fabric of the dress was cinched tight at the waist. I thought she was so beautiful that I mentally photographed her which obviously I can still view that photograph. Of course I would never reveal until now, sixty years later, how smitten I was.

Valentine's Day & romance in my pre-teen life
(ages seven to twelve)

As a preteen I would remain quite shy around girls. This story recalls the memory of my first kiss. I was still in first grade but it happened at my neighbor girl's house. I was innocently playing with toys at her house and right out of the blue she plants one right on my mouth.  On my mouth with her girl germs!! Holy cow!! I was out of there like a shot. I could handle girls as playmates but if one would reveal the slightest inkling of a romantic interest - YIKES! This fear made Valentine's Day really horrific for me. This custom was taught starting with Miss Kulbeck then continued through rest of grade school where the teacher would have her students make Valentine cards where you would color little hearts and flowers then write little love catch phrases like "I'm yours", "be mine" or simply "XOXOXO". Then the teacher would force you to write the name of the one you covertly liked in your class. You were not to put your name on the card. When everyone was done she would collect all the cards in a box and then have a girl and a boy distribute the cards to the recipients named on the cards. Of course some children would go home with a stack of cards and some with none. But in this pre-Politically Correct Era it was perfectly acceptable to publicly declare who was popular and who was not. Year after year the same kind of thing took place in phy ed class where the teacher would have his pets choose teams every day. No matter what sport it was the same kids who would be left standing for the public humiliation of everyone knowing that no one wanted them. For me I wasn't the last to be chosen but I was close enough that I was very empathetic for those that were. Sorry, I meandered off the topic here, so let's get back to the Valentine's Day story. Now after being forced to participate in romantic declarations of affection in school then I would head home with my one card that some anonymous person had made for me. But that one card was much appreciated by me for it meant there was someone who liked me which for me, would have been crushing had there been no one. And again, I felt so sorry for those in that situation.

May Day

Many of you readers may not know what used to take place on the first day of May. As soon as I would reach home after school my mother would say, "Now don't forget today is May Day. I have bought some candy and three flowers. I set out some construction paper and tape on the table for you to weave your baskets." WHAT?!?!?! I have to endure humiliation at school now it continues at home? There were three cute girls in my neighborhood to whom my mother had determined I HAD to deliver the baskets. Any protests on my part simply brought my two older sisters into the fracas. I was outnumbered with no allies. The only way I could achieve peace was to bite the bullet and make the baskets. When that task was completed I was pushed out the door with baskets in hand and sisters trailing. They were the enforcement squad and they were onto my plan. There was no way I could throw the baskets into the bushes. My sisters, however, would use those bushes to hide in and watch me while I had to quietly set the basket on the girl's stoop, knock loudly on the door and run away. If you have been paying attention you now know that the key to Valentine's Day and May Day was anonymity. I am sure this whole scheme was dreamed up by women for the sake of women. They have to know they have admirers and they must be secret. These were training days for little boys. Men would never come up with a plan like that.


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