I once had a student who said that he remembered being born. Now that was a real first memory! I can’t go back that far, but I remember a night when I was less than two years old, probably about 1951 or 1952. I’m sure that I should have a much lovelier memory that this one, but this is it.
I clearly recall a hot summer night when I was watching “the fights” with my mother and father at our little row house on Grant Street in North Camden. I was sitting on my father’s lap and he held me with one hand. He kept the other hand away from me because he was smoking. Later, I would know that Daddy smoked Chesterfields and I would admire the camel on the cigarette pack. He wore a white T-shirt and workpants and was sitting on “his” armchair, gray mohair.
Mommy was quite thin and she smoked, too. Viceroys. Was there a little crown on that pack? She wore shorts and sat on a gray metal folding chair with a maroon seat pad and she was next to my dad. She got up to adjust the rabbit ears of the antenna on the black and white TV.
I remember the brass stand with the amber glass ashtray that I would learn had been a wedding present for my parents. We would have a lot of ashtrays, something that seems funny to me now. I never liked smoking, although I imagine that I have done my share of involuntary second-hand smoking.
I remember the fringed Oriental living room rug that had belonged to my mom’s grandmother and I would grow up to love its dark red, gray and blue patterns. I still love Oriental rugs.
I remember a dark brown glass bottle of beer on the rug, perhaps a quart, and the Pilsner glasses that they had. On the end table was a beer can opener given to us by the beer company who delivered beer and a beer bottle cap. Dad’s beer was Schmidts. My mom drank Piels. I didn’t like the smell, although it was familiar.
I felt special to stay up late to be with them because this time of night was my bedtime. It’s a good memory because I sensed my parents were happy. They leaned toward the TV and talked about the boxing. They were in their twenties and in love with each other and with their first child.
My parents played with me, read to me, sang to me and took excellent care of me. However, watching the fights has remained as my first memory.
What is your first memory?
Written by Marguerite Ferra who has no cigarettes and no beer, but who has an Oriental rug and a color TV….and a husband who watches THE BIG BANG THEORY with the cats and me here in Cramer Hill…