Keeping memories

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When I was five years old, we lived on Edith Street in El Paso, Texas. Most of the time when I walked out the door, I turned right. My best friend, Terry, lived in that direction and the road around that corner led to the convenience store where we bought candy bars, comic books, and the occasional cigarette. If I went bike riding or roller skating, I might turn left. Down the street in that direction, I would pass by two white ceramic ducks sitting in a neighbor’s yard.

 

The ducks sat there day after day watching me roll by until one day they got up and walked around. I remember it clear as day. It’s one of my special childhood memories that never happened. Yet the impossibility of it doesn’t stop me from remembering it.

 

Duck! Here comes the little dreamer.
Photo from http://www.poultryclubsa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/Duck-High-Flyer.jpg

 

I spent most of childhood outside; we all did back then. But on Saturday morning, we stayed inside to watch cartoons. I spent hours watching that naughty putty tat Sylvester stalk Tweety Bird, Betty Boop sing and dance, Woody Woodpecker stir up trouble, and the Road Runner escape from Wile E. Coyote. For years afterward, I had fond but vague memories of a character called Daffy Fuddlebug. Only when I dragged it into the daylight and showed it to my sister did I realize I had conflated three characters (Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny) into one.

 

 

Memories are the artifacts of the lives I have lived: the small child, the lost teenager, the young woman, the wife, the mother, the teacher, the dreamer. Like one civilization built atop another, each life was built upon the one before; and hidden in each layer, the memories, quite a few still intact, their dates carefully stamped on the bottom; others of uncertain date but recognizable; and many, many broken shards, some still sharp and dangerous, others soft-edged from being buried so long. I have built a museum of words and images where I keep these memories.

 

Sometimes I go there and wander through the quiet rooms, trying to understand the history of my life, believing it will help me live a better life today and in my future. I see that I have mistaken dreams for memories; those early ones often look alike to me. And I have mislabeled a few; the details and faces obscured by time. I leave them as they are; my misremembering is as much a part of me as my remembering. Memories are not facts; they are part of the story we tell ourselves. They may not be real in the way we define facts; but like all good stories, they are true. So I do my best to remember them; and try as I might, I cannot let go of my fond but vague memory of Daffy Fuddlebug.

 

40 thoughts on “Keeping memories

  1. Enjoyed reliving Saturday mornings with you. I still don’t quite understand it, but you bring quiet grins (goofy ones) to me all the time. My regards to daffy. May I always be fuddled (Ha!). Nicely done.

  2. Oh yes! Saturday morning cartoons! Dudley and Nell…………… and my sisters and I eating an entire loaf of bread, peanut-butter toast. Then, a walk down to the Ben Franklin with our nickels and pennies to buy penny candy. So, what’s that…….about 3,000 calories before lunch! Sweet memories for sure. And, that was after my Friday night fly around the living room ceiling while my folks had friends over.

  3. When the Saturday morning cartoons were funny, a few generations grew up with a smile on their face, regardless of the so-called “violence” in them,(maybe we were ‘educated’ enough to know that it wasn’t real) and the good-guy always won..Since then…Eh,not so much..
    Thanks for the trip in the “Way-back Machine”!!

  4. If there was such a character as “Daffy Fuddlebug” created by you? I would watch that series of cartoon shorts every Saturday!

    You know what I love about this short essay, Yearstricken? You talk about the unreliability of memory and the strata of personal history using such a light touch. In fact, the vehicle you use to convey these big ideas is Saturday morning cartoons!

    So beautiful. So masterful.

  5. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    I especially love your “memory” and “history” blogs. Your writing skills bring everything to life. Today I especially love the imagery in the paragraph, “Memories are the artifacts…”

  6. I love finding the shining nuggets of wisdom you scatter throughout your writing. Today it was “Memories are not facts; they are part of the story we tell ourselves.” And those Saturday morning memories — before I loved sleeping in I loved Josie and the Pussycats, the Jackson 5, the Osmonds. And wasn’t Scooby Doo on Saturday a.m. too? Wow, I feel like a kid again! 🙂

    • You are younger than me, so your cartoons are not the ones on TV when I was young. Some of my favorites were the ones that had songs and a little bouncing ball that landed on each word so you could sing along.

  7. “I remember it clear as day. It’s one of my special childhood memories that never happened. Yet the impossibility of it doesn’t stop me from remembering it.”

    I could go in dozens of directions on this one, but since I’m where I’m at today, here’s the direction that spoke the loudest: Sometimes those unremembered impossible memories are the sweetest memories from our childhoods. They build the lattice-webbed framework around which we find a safe place to sit inside, and marvel at the joys of being a child. Thanks for the reminder that the impossibility of it doesn’t have to detract from the memory.

    I absolutely and completely detest cartoons, or anything associated with Saturday morning childhood memories of being gathered around the television set immersed in a world that was fun and silly and made me laugh, but even so, I adore your Daffy Fuddlebug. Rather than focus on how cartoons trigger all those unhappy buried memories for me, it is entirely possible, that after today, when I hear a cartoon bouncing around somewhere in the background, the only thing I’m going to remember, after today, is Daffy Fuddlebug.

    And I’ll be reminded that impossible memories do come true.

    See? See how your words go places you didn’t mean them to go?

    First you have to write the, and then we have to read them, and then they get to sit inside us and take us in directions we weren’t expecting. Thanks for writing the words.

    • You always have something thoughtful to say. You know that I love how you express yourself. I’m glad the words spoke to you, and if they took you to a good place, I am thrilled.

  8. transplantednorth

    you were allowed to walk around to the corner store at the age of five. I’m afraid of letting my youngest, my eight year old ride a block away to his friends’s house. times have sadly changed. thanks for the memories.

    • Small bands of wild children roamed all of the neighborhoods back then. It was wonderful having that freedom from adults. I feel sorry for children today; there’s always big people hanging around.

  9. This brought back so many memories of growing up in Dallas. Like you, we were outside all day, every day in the summers, except when we weren’t watching cartoons or TV after school. I used to roller skate to the 7/11 about a mile from our house to sell the glass Coke bottles for the return deposit, which I would promptly use to buy a brown paper bag full of candy. I rode my bike all over the city, and wasn’t afraid of anything.

    • We shared similar childhoods. Redeeming those small Coke bottles for a nickel provided us with lots of candy money. We also bought comic books for 10 cents each. I could retire now if mother hadn’t thrown them out. 🙂

  10. “Memories are not facts; they are part of the story we tell ourselves. They may not be real in the way we define facts; but like all good stories, they are true.”

    That is my favorite part.

  11. I didn’t read all the comments this time as I wanted my reaction to this story to be fresh.
    I am amazed, and flummoxed and floored and confabulated by this slow maze of memories and dreams and words…….

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