Saturday, January 12, 2013
My Life In A Snapshot 5
This picture was taken in 1975. I was four years old. The picture was taken in the front yard of our house on North Territorial Road in Dexter, MI. It was an old farm house, and when the family makes reference to living here that's what we call it "The Farm".
My mother and I had a conversation yesterday. I was telling her some of my earliest memories, they are from this period of time at this house. We ended up having a lengthy and enjoyable conversation about these memories. I think she was a little surprised by some of the things I remember from this time. I was a little surprised by how much I remembered once I really started thinking and talking about it. I have long periods of time where I have almost no memories. What I do remember is often vague and confused. Between the ages of eight and twelve I have almost nothing. So to have such good memories of being four...
Some of the memories are actual visual images, some of them are more like memories of feelings. Our conversation started by me drawing a small diagram of the layout of the first floor. Complete with furniture. I didn't remember everything but what I did draw was correct. I didn't remember my parents bedroom or the bathroom on the first floor, until my mom mentioned them, but as soon a she did I remembered clearly. I placed the television, the couch, the dining table, doors to outside, and to the the basement. I knew where the stairway was, and where my bedroom was. I can recall the furniture layout in my room. I couldn't remember the rest of the second floor. Even when my mother told me where things where I couldn't visualize them.
I think the most significant thing that comes with these memories is that they are they only memories I have of my dad living with the family. My parents had been split before they lived here, and after living here they divorced. It's not so much I remember living together as a family, as I have memories of both parents at this place. I remember repetitive things that happened more than specific events. It's not all clear.
I was a quiet kid... but I was busy. I got around if ya' know what I mean. I could remember the yard as well as the house. When I would go out to play I would regularly find my way to the neighbors house by a path that connected our backyards. The chicken coop was on that path and I would stop and look at the chickens on my way. The neighbors were Wendy and Dick. I don't remember Dick but I do remember Wendy well. She cut hair in her basement, and I liked her barber chair. She had children's puzzles and toys that I liked to play with. And she liked me to play with them. She would always have cookies or some kind of goodies, but my most vivid memory there was of the wall paper. It was like "old west" style news print. Wanted posters, and tonic advertisements, old news articles... I couldn't read them but I liked looking at the old pictures. Often times my mother would not realize I had made my way to the neighbors. But Wendy would call her, and tell her where I was. She would let me stay and visit for while, many times she would have a client there and they were always highly entertained with me. After she was done with her customer she would set me up in the chair, give me a little trim and send me off home. Sometimes with vegetables from the garden or something to deliver to my mother.
I remember the critters around the place, there were horses and ponies. They belonged to the owner of the house. I remember the ponies better than the horses, Candy and Cricket were they're names. I don't remember the horse's names but I do remember going for a ride on one once. As I mentioned there was a chicken coop, and I liked the chickens. I use to throw food to them and "help" collect the eggs. We had a dog. Her name was Polly, a big Black and Tan coon dog. She was friendly enough but she was big and she liked to jump on people. I can recall my Mother raking in the front yard and getting bit on the hand by a snake and how much it scared her. (It was only a Garter Snake.) I remember the mice, and the mouse traps. I actually remember places were we set mouse traps. I use to like to check them and empty them. My mom says I liked emptying them so much she would tell me if I wasn't good she wasn't going to "let" me empty the traps. I remember my dad cleaning animals from hunting, and I remember understanding that we were going to eat them. We had many a rabbit and pheasant for dinner.
I remember some of the vehicles. I used to ride on my mothers tractor with her to the garden. I didn't remember that it was her tractor or were we would ride to, I just remember riding on the tractor. There were motorcycle rides with my dad to C.J's. A little country store down the road. We would get Superman ice cream and eat it out in the parking lot before we rode home. I don't remember the cars my parents had though.
There were other memories that weren't so good. I was not a very healthy kid. I got pneumonia often and had respiratory problems. I remember taking a lot of medicine, and spending a lot of time in mist tents, and there was always a humidifier in my room. I remember the humidifier. It was blue, the top lifted off to put the water in. There was a... Stem? that stuck down in the water and spun at high speed, I use to take the top off and touch the stem while it spun. I remember dripping water on the stem and spraying it around the room. I remember the the humming sound it made when I would grab the stem and stop it from spinning.
I remember some family interaction, such as being in the living room, I was sitting on the floor with my dad, my sister and mother on the couch. My dad and I were watching Star Trek, and my mother and sister were teasing us for watching it, trying to get him to turn the channel... And me knowing he wasn't going to. I also remember some arguments between my parents that weren't about T.V. and weren't all in fun.
All in all I get the feeling that this was a mostly happy time in my life. I think that's why I remember things so well from then. It always seemed like such a big house, and the yard seemed massive to me. It was a world of wonder around every corner living in that place. I have good memories and easy feelings when think about it.
We moved many times after living at The Farm, and that was not the first place we lived. It's just as early as I can recall. I have earlier recollections, but the aren't the same. I have to say, I find it a little odd that I can remember being three and four so well, and so many other years are so vague and foggy. Heck, most of the time I can't remember what I did yesterday, or what I had for lunch. or even if I had lunch some times. One of the things I have really liked about writing these Life in a Snapshot posts has been looking at the old pictures and really trying to think about what was going on in my life at that time. Every time I have been surprised. I've been surprised by the memories that the photos invoke, but then as I start to write about it even more comes back. This post was a little different, it came from a conversation about memories that I have, and then I found a photo to fit. But It worked out the same. As I wrote this I remembered more that we didn't even talk about last night. I could probably continue to write about memories from this time even now.
I went back by the place in my early thirties for the first time since we lived there. I almost didn't recognize the place. The first thing that struck me was how small the place was compared to my memory. The house, the yard, the distance between the house and the road... They were all much smaller than my four year old mind would have described. The next thing that hit me was how run down the place was. There were out buildings gone, the yard and driveway were filled with broken down cars and trucks. There were no horses, no garden, the grass was uncut, and the house was falling apart. It looked like "The Junkyard" instead of "The Farm". It was kind of sad to see it like that for the first time after so many years. I actually still don't live far from there now, and it's not uncommon for my travels to take me out that way. But I never even pay it a second glance, it's not the same place. I'll keep the pictures I have in my mind from when I was four.
How old were you in your earliest memories? Can you draw a floor plan of your house from when you were four? Have a memory you want to share? Leave me a comment I'd like to hear from you. And thanks for reading my story. I hope you enjoyed it.