A Trip Down The Mem(e)ory Lane

Ordinary Girl tagged me with a meme while I was away visiting my daughter for the Thanksgiving holiday. Memes are supposed to be somewhat subconsciously driven, but these blog memes make us actively think about what we are passing along, thereby defeating the whole purpose of the concept of memes. Since it’s an artificial meme, I’ll follow Exterminator‘s lead , and refuse to pass it on (someone has to take a stand, to quote Bill Buckingham).

Anyway, the meme requires the following:

  1. Describe my earliest memory where the memory is clear, and where “clear” means I can depict at least three details.
  2. Give an estimate of my age at the time.
  3. Tag five other bloggers with this meme.

I’ve always had one or two memories, which I know are my oldest memories, and which I can date with a fair amount of precision, so I’ll give it a shot.


I was born in 1954 in Harrisburg, PA. All of you memorizers of the state capitals will recognize Harrisburg (not Philadelphia) as the state capital of Pennsylvania. My parents lived in the city when I was born, but moved to a small town outside the city when I was three. I know that if I have any memories of my first home in the city, then they have to be prior to the age of three, or thereabout, because after that I lived elsewhere. In that way I can date them as my earliest possible memories.

The Memories

The earliest of them is a distinct memory of wandering down the street in front of my first house in the city to meet my “girlfriend”. She was little girl who lived down the block and I remember running down the sidewalk and confronting her in some way. I have no memory of her name, but I do have this sense that the whole thing was somewhat contrived. Being approximately three years old, I suspect that there were at least two mothers looking on to make sure that we didn’t get far, or do something we were not supposed to. My singular focus was on the girl (which may have been a harbinger of my future rampant heterosexuality) so I have no idea who was watching. My peripheral vision had obviously not developed yet. I remember she had dark hair, and I remember the chain link fence we stopped in front of (one of those two foot high front yard fences meant to keep a small dog in). What we did once we “hooked up” is anyone’s guess, but I suspect it involved diapers, toys and food. I have no other memory of the girl, but I think she was cute. I wonder what she’s doing today?

The second memory was of actual moving day from my first home. My parents had these typically 50’s style sectional sofas that had some kind of slip covers on them when they were in the room and being used, but were made of this peculiar tweedy green prickly material underneath. I remember growing up with the sofa as secondary furniture in the basement of my later homes (sans covers), but my specific memory here was that on moving day, as the movers were carrying the sections of the sofa out of our first home, onto the moving van, they let me ride on it while they carried it. What fun! I know I was a skinny little towhead at the time, light as a feather (unlike my current self) so they may not have even noticed that I stowed aboard the chair while they carried it, though I can’t imagine how they would have missed me.

I’ve heard it said that it is not easy to remember things from prior to the age of three.

When my son was about age 6, I would ask him if he had any memories of his grandmother, my mother, who died when he was about 2.5, and he would relate memories from prior to her death. But as he got older, when he was a teenager, for comparison I would ask him the same thing, and he would have no memories of her. I found that to be moderately fascinating, that he would retain his memory when he was closer in age, but would lose it as he got older.

I guess we all do that to some degree.

5 thoughts on “A Trip Down The Mem(e)ory Lane

  1. My parents had these typically 50’s style sectional sofas that had some kind of slip covers on them …

    I assume you’re talking about those awful, plastic slip covers. We had some on our sectional sofa, too. Everybody did. Those slip covers were murder when you sat on them in the summer, remember? When you’d lift your sweaty little body up, the plastic would stick to you like a magnet. It felt like you were pulling a band-aid off your legs when you finally became detached.

  2. I remember those. I had relatives and friend’s parents who did that to their good furniture, (not to mention automobile upholstery) but that’s not what I was referring to. Ours was more of a cloth cover that went over these really generic looking sofas. I presume in retrospect that it allowed the manufacturer to create one material for all sofas, and then allow the customization to be done on the slip covers. The base material was a really durable, tweedy cloth that held up to all manner of indignities, including a nuclear explosion. The slip covers would have been softer, and more in keeping with the decor.

  3. Ah, first loves! My first love, at age 4, was a minister’s son named Stephen. I was a minister’s daughter, so it was a good fit. I haven’t seen him in more than 30 years, when we were both teenagers. I wonder what he’s doing now?

    BTW, I lived in Harrisburg from 1975-1977. No offense, but I hated the place then and I still hate it. IMO, it’s a dumpy armpit of a city!

  4. It WAS a dumpy little armpit of a city in 75-77. I couldn’t agree more. Have you been back? What were you doing here? It has gotten much better.

    In the 80’s we elected a mayor who has turned the city around. He’s still the mayor, on his 5th or 6th term now (I’ve lost count). The downtown area you wouldn’t recognize. He’s brought back commerce into the city from the suburbs, and in the process revitalized a dying downtown. He has devoted an incredible amount of effort to his city, and it’s paid off. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s probably gay, and hence undistracted by a family, but he’s a public servant in the true sense of the term. They will probably erect a statue to him someday.

  5. Well it could be because he’s gay, but it’s not due to no family distractions. Gays have taste. They’ve saved a few areas in Philly, too.

    Great stories. My grandmother had plastic wrapped furniture. Our Ikea sofa is like what you described. It’s white but has several different colored slipcovers you can buy for it which are a heavy cotton, like denim. Ours is Chiefs red, of course. 😉

    I’ve never been to Harrisburg, but I’ve been to York. Now there’s an armpit.

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