Memories – Photographs or Folk Tales?

I think a lot about writing my story.  One time I actually started a Life Story using Creative Memories digital story book software – a product they removed – along with the photo/storybook I’d made.  I’d only written up to 1981 when I got stuck on how to include my divorce.  Stopped me cold because to write the truth would not be an appropriate reveal for my particular audience (read: kids and grandkids).

Recently I enrolled in a “Writing your Life Story” course for seniors at Rollins College.

[Side note: When I actually went to college in the early 60’s the going-to-class part was not a priority for me.  I was busy learning how to drink 3.2 beer and smoke Salems.  Friday nights were for learning all that, plus drinking games, at the Purity. Saturday classes?!  Seriously.]

The first homework from Old Farts college is to write about our earliest memory.  Turns out my earliest memory is probably not a memory at all, but a folk tale that my mother loved to tell.  It was about me as a toddler descending the stairs to where my parents were entertaining –  hands covering my rear end with all the other lower parts open to plain view by the 20-something partiers.  It isn’t really a memory because I can’t picture it from my point of view.  The story in my head is more of a film because I am always viewing myself from the bottom of the stairs.

Skipping school when I was in Kindergarten is, I think, my earliest memory. Probably remembered because this adventure took place in winter in Rome, NY with a couple feet of snow on the ground. Why my mother let me walk to school alone, several blocks, in freezing weather, I have no idea. I got to the front step of the small brick two story building and decided I was too old for Kindergarten nap time, turned around and walked home.  In that 20 minutes or so my mother had left our apartment and the door was locked.  I spent the morning in a cold stairwell, curled up in front of the door, knowing the Wrath of Meg would soon descend.  THAT is a memory.  I can remember trudging through the snow, passing the crossing guard who never questioned my trip.  I remember being alone in the stairwell, shivering from cold and fear.  I don’t remember the consequence for this action, but it most likely involved some spanking “when my father got home.”

Photographs get imprinted in my mind as memories.  In the photo below:  I do remember the cellar door at 40 Parker St, Carlisle, PA in the background.  You could get a mean splinter sliding down the wood.  The boy – no clue.  My coat – made by my Grandma Galt.

ann cellar door

The rabbit in this photo. No memory. But I do remember (hearing?) that my Grandpa Galt once got me a de-skunked skunk for a pet.  His name was Sweet William. But, nope, no rabbit memory.


I don’t remember this slide adventure.  You’d think I would because I look like my life is about to end as my father forces me down the shiny aluminum.


And the last photo for this writing shows a dog of which I have no memory.  From the same time period I do remember being part of a University of Delaware tv show.  Cutting food with a knife; my first time ever.  We didn’t even have tv so I’m not sure what audience they were trying to reach.


It’s a pleasant journey to go through old photos and try to remember the stories they bring to mind – whether a true memory or a folk tale.