Walking down Memory Lane

For all of us “Memory Lane” has many facets. Just exactly how young we begin to remember is a good question. If there are photographs of a certain time period I think that stirs memories. I swear that I remember the last time my father was home, but I am not sure about that. I was just two. My mother told me that my memory of a couch being by the window is correct. There is no picture to document this, so I guess I must remember it.

People often ask about my memories. I have excellent recall of events that happened many years ago. I recently joined a Facebook site that focuses on the town that I grew up in. I am fascinated with the old pictures that people submit. If I remember I comment, but many of the pictures are before my time so I am clueless.

When I think about attending school I think of two schools. There was a No. 4 School where I started my educational journey and a No. 3 School where I finished my elementary years. In later years I returned to that school as a student teacher.

Part of what I refer to as my high school has been torn down. I believe the other portion that is still standing is now the middle school.

Early friendships are powerful things. I do not remember everyone of course, but you might be surprised about some of the students I do remember. I remember a girl who lived in the “project”, housing built for returning military personnel. She was only in the first couple grades with me before she moved. I remember a pastor’s daughter whose sudden move really bothered me. I was sad to see Evelyn move on because she was such a good friend. Then, there was the minister’s son. He was my first boy-friend. He moved away when we were in the second grade. But I have never forgotten him.

Memory is a strange thing. We remember best the things that were important to us. My husband’s family and I got to talking. I told them I have no photos of my husband during his growing up years except for one school picture. (I think he was in the second grade.) He, too, had a vivid memory. Although we had no photos to document things, he described life on the farm when he grew up.

He lived at the end of the road; well actually the road went up by his house but the only one who used it regularly was the mail man. It was not a much traveled road.

Dick remembered when the electric was put in, in this area. He remembered watching the men work. He also remembered his first Christmas tree with lights. With the installation of electricity there were many improvements on the farm.

My husband did not start school until he was six years old. There was no kindergarten in the rural schools of the area. He went directly to first grade. The school that he attended is long gone. It had all twelve grades in it. How novel an idea that is! This fall a new elementary school opens on the campus of the middle/high school. The area is back to where they started, but there is a lot of history between the stages. New history will be made housing all of the grades at one site.

My husband also remembered outdoor plumbing such as it was. Trips to the outhouse during the cold winter could not have been pleasant, but if that is all you know you do what you have to do. The only outhouses I remember were the one at the little church up the road and one at my aunt’s cottage. My daughter got locked into the outhouse at the church. She was quite small. When she had to go to the bathroom one of the older girls went with her. The wooden paddle on the outside fell in place and they were locked in. Cindy lowered Jill out through the window telling her to go for help. Jill followed directions and Cindy made it back to vacation Bible school with only a minor inconvenience.

Going to the movies was a big deal back when I was growing up. We often attended Saturday matinees. I think the going rate was ten cents for the movie and ten cents for popcorn. There were three theaters in town and they were all busy. As far back as I remember the shows were never more than a dollar. It made quite an inexpensive date in later years.

Of course if we went to the drive-in it was even cheaper. Two couples could double date and split the expenses. If we packed the car full of aunts, uncles, and cousins it was cheaper yet. They charged by the car in those days, not by the person.

I would not say that I long for days gone by. I simply remember them fondly. I remember the good times and the bad. Not everything was good in those days either. There was a lot of hard work. There was even discrimination in those days as well. I was passed over for a playground job since I had no family with influence. I found my niche working in a store. That turned out to be a good decision because when my high school went on split sessions in the fall I could keep on working right through the term.

Hopefully, this sparks fond memories for you. All of us grew up differently, but nevertheless no doubt we remember the years of our youth. Tell your children and grandchildren about the times you remember. Family history is a powerful thing. Once you are gone so are your memories! Even now I wish I had asked more questions of my elders. Some of that history has just slipped away.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net