Over lunch the other day, my Best Friend and I were discussing our earliest memories. Neither of us could actually attach an age to our earliest. He informed me that while you could remember incidents, you must develop what he called “cognitive awareness” before you could associate the memory with a specific age.
He remembered walking with his Dad along the banks of the Rock River. He was 4, he recalled, when he found a toy. It was a stuffed duck, blue in color, and he cherished that duck until his mom insisted that he give it to a neighbor girl. Her dad was out of work and she had very few toys, and she really coveted that blue duck.
My BF still remembers how he hated to give up that duck. He still thinks about and remembers how he wanted that duck. I’m still looking for a blue duck to give him as a present. He so hated having to give it up.
My first “cognitive” memory also dates from when I was 4 years old. We had moved from Ottawa to Stockton — memory inducing for sure. A grandmotherly woman who was our new neighbor asked me how old I was and I held up four fingers.
Still, I remember isolated incidents before that: crawling into Dixie’s dog house and curling up in fresh straw next to her new brood of puppies. Dixie wasn’t pleased.
I remember carrying my blunt-nosed scissors to a field beyond our back yard and picking dandelions to cut into yellow squares. I left those scissors in the field and remembered where. The next spring I went to get them and they were rusted and no longer cut — dandelions or anything else. And, I remember getting a sandbox filled with white sand. I thought it was sugar and licked a mouth full off my small shovel.
I think I remember another incident. Dad liked to go out after a heavy rain and pick up worms so he could go fishing. I liked to go out with him on the hunt and rushed to him with a triumphant claim that I had found a really big one. It was a small garden snake. Dad went into orbit and maybe that explains my aversion to serpents.
My BF and I asked Number Two son his earliest memory. It involved a police car. He had wandered away from home to view a hobby horse in a toy store window. The police brought him home. He said he especially remembers seeing the gun on the policeman’s hip.
For what it’s worth — he DID get that hobby horse for Christmas that year.
Liz Ciancone is a retired
Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.