It can be so frustrating to TRY to recall an old memory. So we struggle with how to remember memories but there is no sure way to revive a memory that wants to stay hidden. On the other hand, so many things bring old memories to life. They may come to life as lightly and fleetingly as a breeze just catching a bit of your hair. Or they may appear in technicolor playing clear and strong across the screen of your mind. They may be sparked by an aroma - the smell of lilacs in the spring, or by a taste of a certain sauce that takes you home to your mother’s kitchen or to that place at the boardwalk where they sell caramel popcorn. A sound, a vision, a story, these can take us to places we thought we had long forgotten and suddenly, they are alive and rush at us and make us hungry for them to stay or perhaps make us recoil in fear. These memories don't leave us. Our minds are so full of them just waiting for the spark to wake them. The stories below are both about memories brought to life, the first by a conversation, the second by music.
A story by Marilyn DeMar Benson
The other day my cousin phoned and in conversation asked if I remember having a trench coat… and I did… it was beige and hers was rose. She always did like to be different… where I always followed the pack, but that conversation brought back so many memories.
Picture this 1943:
The most important clothes in my closet were plaid skirts, sweaters, blue jeans, a red and black wool jacket, the necessary bobby sox, and the above mentioned trench coat, with friends’ names, and “FRANKIE” written all over it.
Frank Sinatra was the rage, and I joined the rest of the country as a screaming fan. “Anchors Aweigh” was his latest movie and would be opening soon at the Broadway Paramount. Frankie, along with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and The Pied Pipers would all be appearing on stage.
Two of my friends and I planned our strategy as to how we could get to go, we decided to spend the night at Dorothy’s, leave the house very early, be on line by 6:30AM, and make a day of it. Our plans were made, but we still hadn’t asked our parents… To my surprise my Dad said NO, he thought I was too young to go to the City. I kept after my Mother and she finally said Yes… and we would tell him after the fact. I hadn’t really disobeyed him before, unless you count putting on Tangee Lipstick when he wasn’t looking, another of his No No’s.
You can read the rest of her story at: Stirring Up A Memory; A story by Marilyn DeMar Benson
This evocative memory was all brought back from 1943, some 70 years later by a simple question from Marilyn’s cousin. There’s no predicting when a memory appears full blown.
A story by Irene Murray
This memory is from 9th grade. Since I am now 69 years of age, it was quite a few years ago. I can still picture myself in the situation, being transported by the music, feeling like my heart was going to burst open with the bigness of what I was experiencing. How I wish I could tell my music teacher, whose name has gone the way of so many memories into a deep hole of unknowing, that this experience made an indelible mark on me.
First, let me say that the entire experience, a trip to Broadway in New York City was totally outside of all of my previous experiences in its exotic nature and out of the ordinariness. To that point in time, my only ‘adventures’ away from my home was our yearly trek to the CT beach where we rented a cottage for a week, our family vacation. So just going to New York was like going to a foreign country for me.
I do not remember anything at all about that day except this one memory. We are seated in a balcony, high, high above the stage and only by standing at the railing can I see the actors below performing ‘The Sound of Music’. I am vibrating with the power of what I am hearing and seeing, how can it be possible for people to make this kind of beautiful music? I feel like I am ‘outside’ myself, that I am not in the normal world of day to day living with all of its routines and habits, fears and hopes and am instead in a world where only the action and music matter. I do not want it to stop.
You can read the rest of Irene’s story here: The Sound of Music; A Story by Irene Murray
Reviving old memories may even bring new meaning to those memories. The event may seem more important 70 years later. It may reveal truths about loved ones or what we value. The memories aren’t just there in your head gathering dust. They age and smolder, offering wisdom and insights and joy and sadness. Things once important might reveal themselves in memory as trivial. This is why we value dredging them up and why we preserve them. This is why we write them down. Your stories help to preserve those memories of wisdom and insight and delightful observations about what life was like for teenage girls whose stories may not be the stuff of history books, but they are certainly the stuff of a certain time and a certain age. And that is why you share your stories. You want people to know what it was like to see what you saw, to smell what you smelled, to hear what you heard, to love what you loved. Your stories may seem simple, but truly, they are deep and rich and they matter!