Sunday, September 1, 2013

What We Remember, What We Forget

Sore throat this morning. Must have been snoring good last night. Don’t know, I slept through it. Usual Sunday routine of opening the blinds, turning on the NPR news, waking up the computer, grabbing a pillow to raise the seat and settling in for the morning. Only this morning was a little different. Instead of just having fruit, I made two breakfast burritos, seasoned with lots of pepper and hot sauce, Sunny D and coffee.
Check the email and the silliness of social media while listening to “This American Life”. Today the subject was interviews at a rest stop. What stood out in my mind on hearing these voices were the people working at the rest stop. Folks preparing corn dogs and sodas for people who need to stop for gas or a potty break, weary of the traffic jams and being stuffed in a box for hours with people they might now enjoy being with for that long, like their children. Minimum wage folks with minimal skills or education but still falling in love, living at home with their mothers, raising families and all that includes and having no future. Takes me back to my youth.
It has been a long time since I took a road trip. As a youngster my family would ride to North Carolina every summer for a vacation. We traveled a two-lane highway with no rest stops.  We would carry sandwiches and if we needed a bathroom break, we’d pull over the side of the road and go in the bushes.
I was a bouncer. There were no tablets or DVDs to keep us kids entertained, so I would bounce on the seat for miles and miles and miles. Why I didn’t get car sick I don’t know but it became my custom and the family got used to it. I don’t remember what my brother did to keep himself entertained. Maybe he just watched me bounce or was fascinated by the chain gang guys working on the side of the road or slept through the stories of the Indian reservation we passed. I do remember some pad game we played where we had to find nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to fill in stories. They were hilarious but I still didn’t understand English.
That is sort of the idea of the day, but we’ll get to that in due time. The rest of the morning ritual was pretty much normal. A little more blood in the wash but no teeth came out. Deciding not to take a shower until later, I locked the door remember I did not lock up last night. Wonder why? Maybe that is why I was snoring so much?
There is a strange sound in the woods this morning as I pull the pony out and go through my preparations to exercise, clear my lungs and wake up. It sounds like church music. Maybe the Quaker church on the corner got an organ? Maybe it is the pickup truck being worked on the other side of the street? Maybe it is someone watching church on the television?
A guy walking his lab puppy wakes up from his iPod when I talk to his companion. A few smiling joggers are also lost in their music. Several ladies are trimming their flowers and adjusting their bushes. It is warmer than I thought it would be today. The one level ranch house being renovated is now two stories. I pay my $141.00 of monthly utilities then move onto the store. The gym parking lot is full so maybe it is time for sweat church.
As I secure my ride, I think about Wild Eyed Willy. Haven’t seen him in a while. Seen Crazy Eddy, but not Willy. Pass the firemen with empty boots, but I don’t carry any cash. The ordinary path to blueberries, raw peanuts, two types of seed (they get a treat today) and trash bags is accomplished with minimal pain and Faith with her cheery smile and sweet conversation takes care of me. I even consider buying her a rose. If I was 20….er ah 30….well 40 years younger, I’d…..
On the way home I think about the lunch yesterday with my brother and his wife (why do we say that? Why do we categorize people by saying my brother and his wife or my sister and her husband? It sounds like a subordinate? Why don’t I just say George and Virginia? No, I never call them by name.) Well anyway, do you ever listen to yourself when someone asks, “What have you been doing?” Describing a lunch with an old girlfriend who really wasn’t a girlfriend because she became the girlfriend of another friend sounds really boring. Listing projects that have been waiting and still are not done are more mundane than their description of their new car’s requirements.
Yet it does bring up a thought that I had this week. I’ve been researching some of the items from my youth that either are antiques and not made anymore or technology and science has transformed. Where do I start?
There was a knife sharper on our kitchen wall. It was a small grinding wheel with a hand crank. I never paid much attention to it, but when we were cleaning out the house I took it home. I then realized the most important tool in the kitchen is a sharp knife. This thing was so simple yet so efficient. Never added oil or anything else, but a few quick spins and a dull knife changed to razor sharp. Somewhere along the way, it got tossed. I checked online and there are a few still out there. The problem is they do not have the wedged holder that screws into the wall. Pity.
While I’m wandering through kitchen memories, there was this little tin box that sat on our stove. It was just one of those items you don’t pay attention to but is always there. It was a grease holder or catcher. With a little research I remember my mother cooking bacon in a big black iron pan. The grease would splatter everywhere and was always over cooked. Sorry mom but cooking was not in your forte. I guess this little tin was to pour the remainder of the fatty lard grease into to reuse later.
Now we move on to an ice crusher. Another item that would hang on the wall (replacing the knife sharper) it was a simple hand crank tool. We always had two metal ice cube trays in the freezer. We’d chip the tray out, pull open the lever that was supposes to release the cubes (none of this plastic stuff), pick them up and drop them into this grinder. Steel blades would shred the ice into smaller pieces. This ground up ice and Ginger Ale was the medicine for upset stomachs. I think this can happen on a refrigerator door now?
Do you have a favorite coffee mug? Of course you do. There is an entire industry designing and manufacturing coffee mugs. Some are tall to look like the latte holder from Starbucks and some are small and comfortable in the morning dawn. The best of all coffee mugs are those porcelain off-white mugs that are used in open all night diners and greasy spoons. They don’t hold much liquid but the coffee is always renewable. When you are having a conversation with someone at a counter sitting on stools, no other cup can you wrap your hands around and keep you warm. They are not manufactured anymore. I checked.
Paper towels in a roll are pretty standard kitchen requirement, but when I was growing up we had a commercial paper towel dispenser on the wall. It was a tin box that had to be opened with a key and these folder rectangular paper towels stacked in it. If they were not placed correctly they would not pull out, so it was a constant problem. This was one of my chores as a kid so I didn’t carry that into my memory box.
Now to step outside the box, I bring you the Confederate cap. Now I know this is offensive to some people but I grew up in the capital of the confederacy. I didn’t mean to, it just was what it was. These caps and buckles and flag and musket balls were everywhere. There are still monuments to the generals and after 150 years, the story of the time fades from the history books.
So let’s go to sports. Every kid is exposed to sports. It’s call physical education. And all kids hate it. We all have to change our clothes (together, which is so embarrassing) and run and jump and “play” games under instructions.
Some of these games weren’t so difficult. I enjoyed tennis. It was fairly simple scoring, didn’t require too much physical effort and looked cool at the club. My parents had played tennis back in the dark ages so I was handed down their rackets, wooden rackets with a head about the size of a badminton racket and the weight of a baseball bat. I don’t remember buys tennis whites but I do remember becoming fairly good at the game. Bought a pair of tennis rackets a few years back at Target and I was amazed at the size of the heat. How could you miss the ball with one of these? They were as light as a feather. They have never been used.
Lets move on to golf, the gentleman’s sport as they call it. My mother picked up the game so I had to learn it or just caddy for the rest of the folks. My first clubs were wooden and awkward. My next set was a hand-me-down that were a little short but worked. This was the first sport I found that was competitive and walked away from it.
Now being a guy and having to prove guy stuff, I learned how to shoot. Floated with images of the last war and cowboys and gangsters, a guy had to learn how to shoot. My first experience was with a bolt action 22-rifle. Again, a simple, unobtrusive weapon that was pretty light weight but served the purpose of training. Even with bad eyesight I learned the mechanics of bullets and projectiles travels.
Not as noisy, I learned archery. An ancient weapon turned into a sport, I applied the lessons learned with shooting and became good at hitting a target. I carried a bow and arrow for years and even set up a bail of hay and a target in the backyard until I missed one and it went through the alley. Probably not a good idea so the memory is there but not the tools.
Fishing is a pretty harmless sport, unless you are a fish. Another kids fascination when not living on the water. Again there are all sorts of rods and reels and hooks and as sundry that goes on with the sport. I enjoyed going to a couple of ponds with friends and throwing a line in. We never caught much but it was a good long time for conversations.
Speaking of water, there is a sailboat that I will always remember. It is a sailfish. It is basically a surfboard with a sail. It was simple (you see a pattern here?) traveling vehicle that could hold one or two comfortably. Slide in the centerboard for stability, put on the rudder, pull up the single sail and you were off. It taught a lot of how to live on the water experiences.
Along with sailing and all those scout lessons was how to handle a rope. Unless you are a cowboy you may not have touched a rope. A rope is not one of those everyday necessaries anymore. There are various varieties of knots to fashion in the art of handling a rope. I learned many of them. I have forgotten all of them. I probably don’t even remember how to tie a bow tie.
I have rambled enough so I will get to the final item: a Mickey Mouse watch. Many of my generation grew up on the club and watched the black and white kids jumping around and singing and keeping us entertained in mouse ears before they became plastic. Watches were generally given at Christmas and I’m sure I learned to tell time by this watch. I certainly don’t have it anymore since more watches were given at the next Christmas so I don’t worry about what the value of it may have been. I still have a box of watches that I don’t wear because I don’t care what time it is.
Like all these items, there are memories, but no necessary to store them. The things we remember, the things we forget.

1 comment:

TripleG said...

The timing was just right for this reader. You're right, it's a lot simpler just to remember these things than store them forever!