Fond Memories I’d Like to Relive
For the last month or so I’ve been thinking about elements of my childhood that were fun or interesting and that I can no longer do. I’ve comprised a short list of things I’d like to do again.
I’d like to be nine years old again for a day just so I could zoom all around the part of town where I grew up on my cool bike with the banana seat. Of all the retro things that have made a comeback from the 70’s and 80’s, banana seats have been overlooked (sissy bars too, but those were generally a boy thing).
I’d like to be ten years old for a day during the week after school closed for the year. My mother was a public school teacher in a junior high (middle) school. The teachers had to work for an additional week after the school year in order to close down their rooms and take all the stuff off of the bulletin boards. My mom would always take me with her and even though I brought along stuff for activities, I would usually get bored within a couple hours of being there and I’d be out in the halls running around.
The custodians would open all of the lockers and spill their contents out into the hallways. There would be row upon row of all kinds of school supplies strewn down the tiled floors. I was free to take whatever I wanted from the rubbish as long as I got there before the custodian came back with his trash bin. I had an absolute field day picking out notebooks, pencils, pens, loose-leaf paper, mechanical pencils and the little cases of lead refills (for some reason I always loved the sweetish smell of that lead).
When I’d had my fill of trash picking, I’d head to the gym and climb under the bleachers in search of coins. Occasionally I’d be rewarded with a nickel or even a quarter when I got lucky. Back then teachers were allowed to smoke in the teachers room and they way they made worksheets for the class was on a mimeograph machine. The fumes from these sheets were reputed to get one high. I never knew anyone to even get a buzz from them.
I’d like to be twelve again for a day when I would visit my dad at his job. He worked at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The museum itself was remarkable in its diversity and attractions (my favorite was always the gem room). The behind the scenes aspect was even better. The collection outside the public domain is huge and ungainly and really cool. Large rooms house case upon case of specimens and the things that are too big to be stored sit on the tops of the cases or along the hallways. In weaving my way around the upper levels of the rotunda, I would routinely pass a section of shelving containing human skulls.
Since my father valued people being useful, I would always be given a job of some sort to do when I visited. Most of the time I got boxes of bird skeletons which I would number. Each set of bones needed to stay complete and numbering was essential so that the parts wouldn’t wind up in the wrong set. The museum sends specimens out to universities on loan so that students can study them. The process of using the Indian ink pen did improve my handwriting considerably, though I’ll never have “draftsman” perfect form.
One year right after the museum got computers (probably Radio Shack TR-80s) someone decided that the egg collection should be merged with the nest collection. A program was set up to match eggs & nests. Of course there was a problem with the proper matching which was how I wound up in the attic of the museum with a group of people trying to sort out the collection. What a neat place! Everything that was too big to fit on the main floors was up there – elephant skulls, antelope skulls, full sized mounts that weren’t needed for display. It’s all gone now. The attic was full of lead paint and asbestos so the collection was disbursed other places for storage but one summer I got to spend a week there.
I ‘d like to relive one day when I was five or six and my best friend’s mother took us to the Enchanted Forest (also gone now) which was an amusement park not too far from our homes. I don’t remember much about it other than it was magical and I got to drive a little antique-type car (on a rail) around a wooded track.
Time goes on and I have my memories. The best part now is that I get to help my daughters build their childhood memories. Hopefully they remember all of the good ones when they grow up!