Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Day I Was Born

I remember holding my mother’s hand as we walked to the hospital where I would be born. I was almost a teenager before it occurred to me it couldn’t have happened that way. I have a vivid recollection of someone in hospital scrubs handing me a cup of thick brownish red liquid. I gazed into a large pool of water. Later I woke up to a Rice Crispie breakfast. I pedaled furiously through the halls of the hospital in a toy fire truck. There were a l0t of other kids. A bully pushed me out of my fire truck and took it.
As we age our recent memories die but the old ones are as vivid as ever. I know it involves a different function of the brain. I wonder what I'll remember when I'm a hundred.
Sometimes I think back as far as I can. I've asked friends how far back they can remember. Most seem to go back to about five years. I have several memories that go back to before I was two.
The memory of my birth ended up being a visit to the hospital to have my stomach pumped. I climbed onto a counter in the kitchen and swallowed a bottle of vitamin pills. I must have thought they were candy. Fortunately the ipecac worked and the pump was unnecessary.
I was born in January of 1958. I have a lot of memories before my brother was born. He was born in December of 1959. We lived downstairs in a barn shaped 2-family flat on Crescent in Dog Town.
I slept in a single bed in a room between our kitchen and living room. I was supposed to be asleep but the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies permeated the apartment. I snuck into the kitchen and found them cooling on the table. I saw, through a window, my mother hanging clothes up in the back yard. I filled a sand pail with cookies and hid them at the side of my bed. I don't know why I wasn't caught.
I remember Eisenhower’s bald head on our TV and getting a huge toy steam locomotive from my folks’ good friend Paul Shult.
I fell from an open window in our front sun room. There were men putting up a new sun screen. What I really remember was getting a piece of the green opaque material they were making it out of on the concrete where I landed. I loved the way light passed through it.
We had an unused room with sheets on furniture and an old black rotary dial telephone. The room seemed haunted.
I had three different places to bathe. In a tub in a small bathroom in the hall that led to the haunted room. In a shower that was in a small bathroom off the kitchen where I showered with my dad. I wondered why he was so hairy. I also remember my mother bathing me in the kitchen sink.
One day my dad and I were having a cap gun fight. He used a small six shooter that was easy to pull the trigger of. I used a cumbersome, iron ray gun that was impossible to shoot. I thought he wanted to use the easy one but it occurred to me years later how cool the ray gun was. He probably thought I preferred it.
Right in the middle of our battle my mother walked in the front door carrying a new baby. Man things would never be the same.
The more I think back the earlier I go. It’s all stored digitally in the archives of my mind. I can’t believe it hasn’t deteriorated yet. It’s really the reason I write this blog. I wish my dad could have left me his memories. I’m still trying to get my mom to.
I don’t quite remember my birth but I've spoken with people who tell me they have memories from the womb.
My folks’ friends the Kornachers (Bob Kornacher was the drummer for the Dixie Stompers) had a daughter named Susan. She insisted she could remember experiences in the womb. She said she got waves of cold that would disturb her peaceful meditation inutero. Her mother Flo said it was very hot that summer and she drank a lot of of ice water. Hmmm---- who knows?
The more I think about it, the more I remember. It’s not important I guess, but it is the sum of my existence and all I have.
Pics are me when I was one. The porch I’m reflecting from is the place we lived at before Crescent. It was destroyed when the Channel 2 tower fell into one of the Arena’s gate towers during a famous St. Louis tornado. Most people who remember the Channel 2 tower at Hampton and Oakland don’t know it was once tall enough to fall that far. The Arena’s whole roof had to be replaced.


dominic schaeffer said...

My earliest memory is being bathed in the kitchen sink by my sisters. We had one of those black plastic hoses for rinsing. I'd look up to see the in-wall exhaust fan with the long stick on it that when pulled it open the fan would run.

I was really uncomfortable with all the space in the tub when they moved me there.

Anonymous said...

Thar apartment on Oakview wasn't destroyed. The tornado bumped the corner of the house somehow and put a big crack in the wall of the bedroom closet, which was just to the left behind where you're sitting in that top picture. Thankfully, the tornado jumped over the rest of our building, coming down right behind us, flattening the old skating rink and other parts of the Arena complex, including one of its towers. The Channel 2 TV tower was up the street at the corner. I get the impression from your blog that you thought it fell on part of the Arena, but it wasn't that tall!

Your Mom

Doggie said...

I thought it was that tall.

...Sharon said...

My earliest memory is of holding my Dad's hand as we walked to church. He was explaining to me that my mom had just had a baby - that I now had a little baby brother. I remember the next day, when they came home from the hospital, my mom said my new brother looked like a turtle. I became very confused - I thought turtles looked totally different. I was two.

Doggie, the telling of your memories here are just so very David Lynch-like.

Dom, your's is more like an Alan Parker film.

And mine feels a bit Tex Avery. (...must be in a movie mode.)

Carolyn, what's you earliest memory?