I said to her, “We’ll actually, I remember quite a lot”. While I only vaguely remember some important events, the gas crisis, the NYC blackout, and the hostage crisis. But most of my memories are things that matter to little kids, not adults.
I remember preschool vividly. I attended one of the first headstart programs in NY. I remember the name of the girl I most admired, Tanya. Her most memorable quality was that she wore glitter in her hair at her birthday party at preschool. I envied her beauty and her clothing. I remember a girl’s house burning down and giving away some of my clothes to help her. I remember eating school lunch and wondering what the big to-do about spinach was, because I liked it. I also remember learning about the solar system and being designated to be Mercury because I was little. I remember learning all about letters and the mail and visiting the post office. I remember our trip walking across the Brooklyn bridge. (I still have a picture somewhere).
In the first grade, my boyfriend was Kenny R. I can still see his face in my minds eye, even after all these years. He had smiling eyes and black curly hair. We got to know each other because he too was short and our desk seating was arranged by height. I remember James K, my nemises. Basically because we used to compete for the highest grade on tests.
I remember the second grade, Ms. Kintish. She played piano and taught us a lot of music. I learned the standard patriotic ballads and then some. We had a spelling bee each week and if we did well, she allowed us to chew gum on Friday. I usually did well on the spelling bees. One party day I ate so many jelly beans that I got sick. To this day, I hate jelly beans, and the thought of them make me sick. I remember having a bicycle accident and being laid up for a week, and getting the chicken pox and not being allowed to ride my bike.
In the 4th/5th grade, that nebulous year that I got skipped a grade, my friend was Henry M. Our favorite activity was to dance. We did the hustle every night. We were very good and we even did dance tricks. Adults would always ask us to dance, and we always oblidged. My dream was to be a contestant on “Dance Fever”. He even kissed me once, and being an avid watcher of TV, I kissed him back by biting his lip. (Isn’t that how it is done?) Our great ‘romance’ was broken up by him moving to Brooklyn, which might as well have been Timbuktu. By then, I forgot about it, because I had already moved on, to my next crush, Chris S, from sleep away camp.
I remember transferring to a new school in District 2 (a much better one) in the 5th grade. PS 41, right across from Ray’s pizza in the heart of Greenwich Village. My teacher, Jerome Goldstein was the best teacher in the world. He played classical music when we arrived at class. He popped popcorn and made us herbal teas with no sugar. We had liberal play time where I chose to paint most of the time. We did a lot of dramatic play and generally performed improvisations for each other on stage. He taught us Greek and French. Reading The Princein French was a true snooze fest for me. We went to Washington Square Park regularly, and my class was the class that all the other 5th graders wanted to be in. We were so clannish when I think about it now. I joined the school chorus for the first time, and discovered singing and took the city bus with my bus pass, everyday (after abandoning the school bus because it sucked). I was lucky and privileged and I remember the 5th grade, in particular, very fondly, especially our spring fair, and graduating from elementary school and going to Serendepity’s for ice cream.
I completed that first decade by going to sleep away camp where I met my first real boyfriend. I was only 10, but it was as real as real could be for me. Chris and I were highly competitive swimmers. We would hang out by the deep end for hours fetching rocks off the bottom of the pool and racing each other to the other side. We were in the same “unit”, me, the upper Wrens, and he in the upper Cardinals. So we did a lot of activities as a group including over night camp outs. And he was the first boy to ever French kiss me because he was older and more experienced at the ripe old age of 12. I never forgot Chris for many years after that but he lived even farther away than Brooklyn. He lived in one of the 5 towns out on Long Island.
That was the 70′s to me. I remember so much more, but the details are too boring to write down.
So when people talk about my daughter and say things like “she won’t remember”, I laugh at them and think, yes she will. I remember, why wouldn’t she?