Earliest memories -- 07/29/10

A couple of days ago Sarah (Rhubarb) posted an entry dealing with earliest memories. Hers dealt with recalling wartime blackout conditions in a Naval Housing Project in West Hartford when her mother would tell her that they had to keep it dark at night so the German bombers could not find them. Sarah is a year or so older than me (I'm vintage April '43) but my earliest memories are also from during the war.

My comment on her site told about what is probably my earliest memory -- although there may be those who scoff, saying that I was not yet a year old at the time of this memory so how could I have a memory. However, I have a number of definite memories of events when I was only a couple of years old, and I remember that at the time I was very clearly and distinctly me, conscious and aware and trying to make sense of the world, and I do recall many events that took place during the war.

I will swear that I remember these photographs being taken. My father had had to go off to Navy Boot Camp -- basic training -- and was gone for weeks. Then suddenly he was back home, but only for a few days leave before having to ship out to England. (While in England he and a large group of other sailors would be given a quick course in amphibious assault landing training, just in time for D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was in the second wave to land at Utah Beach).

The dog in the above picture was "Ecky" -- short for Ecnerwal (which, yes, is Lawrence spelled backwards) -- the family dog, my father's hunting dog, a dog who (I am told) was quite serious about protecting me from harm and would growl at anyone who approached me until he was told they were okay. I remember him -- even though my mother had to give him away because wartime rationing and my father being away at war (and us attempting to live on an enlisted man's pay) meant we could not afford to feed him

And I will swear that I remember these pictures being taken. I swear that I remember my father suddenly being there after a long absence and him wearing strange clothing and my mother crying and us gathered outside (for the daylight) to have these pictures taken. I remember a few years later (maybe being five or six) and seeing these pictures in an album and thinking I remember this, I remember these pictures being taken when I was really little. And then Dad was gone and sometimes he would send me V-mail letters with funny drawings on them and everyone (i.e. Mom and Aunt Ida, my father's great-aunt who lived with us... and me too because I would look at the pictures and ask for things to be explained and/or read to me) would look at the newspaper and talk about the war and listen to the radio -- but I didn't like the news because I didn't know what they were talking about but I liked the shows where people laughed a lot even if I didn't understand why they were laughing and I liked shows with singing and I liked shows with stories.

If you are wondering -- given the apparent mansion across the street -- if we were wealthy and living in some upper class neighborhood, let me assure you that we were blue collar working class living in an ethnic (Italian and black) blue collar working class neighborhood. That large building was part of the convent at the Academy of the Sisters of St. Ursula of the Blessed Virgin (a convent and a K-12 Catholic girls' school -- although, if I recall correctly, they did allow boys in the kindergarten classes).

(Perhaps some more memories tomorrow....)

Oh, and by the way, my mother was 35 in those pictures and my father was 37.

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