Tag Archives: my childhood

Earliest Memories

Standard

Today’s post is from a writing exercise I did with a long-lost friend I recently got back in touch with. She’s a writer too but had fallen out of the habit. I suggested we take turns giving each other prompts, then share our results. The first prompt I gave was on the topic of earliest memories.

* The small cake is put in front of me. I reach a hand out tentatively, touch the small cake with one finger. It seems to be encased in a crust. It is my birthday cake made by a grandmother. It’s frosted with a sugar icing that hardened as it dried.

*Defocused Image of Illuminated Christmas Tree Against Sky It is Christmas morning in the big house. I wake to the sound of music. There is a Fisher Price Little People carousel under the tree for me. It is unwrapped, slowly turning while the music plays. The situation feels a little creepy. Who turned it on, then left the room?

* I’m not quite three. My mom is pregnant. I want a sister. When the baby is born, it’s a sister. My dad Gray Scale Photo of a Pregnant Womantakes me to the hospital to look at her through a window.

* I am a tiny girl in a long white nightgown. I am outside barefoot in the early morning, walking through my grandmother’s garden. I feel the dew damp on my feet.

* I’m sick. I’ve been throwing up. My baby sister is very sick. My mom heats a can of chicken noodle soup. It is too hot when she serves it to me. While she is distracted by my sick sister, I have the bright idea to put the bowl of soup on the floor vent where the cold air from the air conditioner blows out. I think the cold air will cool the soup quickly.  I promptly spill the soup down into the air conditioner vent. My mother is livid, which I don’t understand because I didn’t dump the soup down the vent on purpose; it was an accident.

* My sister is in the hospital. I’m taken to visit her. I eat the Jell-O she did not want.

* It is summer in Louisiana. The heat of the day has lessened with the darkness, but it’s still hot. I walk into the convenience store with my dad. The floor of the air-conditioned store is like ice on the soles of my bare feet.

* I am in prekindergarten. I love the smell of coffee wafting from the teachers’ lounge at the parochial school I attend. An African-American girl named Othalene is my friend.

* My prekindergarten class is part of a school-wide program. We are to sing. I am chosen to introduce our performance. I wear a long pink polyester dress my mother made. I stand on the wooden stage, apart from the rest of my class, and look out on the vast audience in front of me. I announce clearly, Sister Pius will now lead us in some of our favorite songs.

* My dad’s friend is at our house with his wife and twin boys who are a few months older than I am. The three of us kids are on our front porch. I’m messing around with the screen door handle and lock it, then accidentally let the door swing shut. When we are finally able to get back inside, my dad punishes me by making me kneel on the air conditioning system’s large metal intake vent. The metal of the grid bites into the tender skin of my little knees. I know my dad is extra angry because I’ve embarrassed him in front of his friend.

* The neighbor in the mobile home behind ours has locked herself out of her house. She and my mother put me into the locked mobile home through an open window so I can unlock the front door. I walk alone through the unoccupied house. It is dark inside and smells different from my family’s home. I both want to get out of the house immediately and explore its every inch. My mother and the neighbor speak to me encouragingly through the window until I unlock the door.

* My older cousin is keeping an eye on a nearby house while the neighbors are away. She takes me with her to the house when she goes to check on it. She finds some things in the house that bother her, like cigarette butts in the toilet. She leaves me alone outside the house while she goes to get an adult. I feel like a lot of time passes before she comes back with my father. Dad decides the neighbors must have come back early but failed to tell my cousin.

* It’s night, and I’m scared. My fear has been with me night after night, so my parents have put an old radios, vintageAM radio in my room, hoping the music will soothe me. I hear Cliff Richards sing

She’s just a devil woman/with evil on her mind/Beware the devil woman/She’s gonna get you

and I feel more scared than I did without the radio.

Lyrics to “Devil Woman” courtesy of https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/cliffrichard/devilwoman.html.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/defocused-image-of-illuminated-christmas-tree-against-sky-253342/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-scale-photo-of-a-pregnant-woman-46207/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/vintage-radios-4624/.

 

Cookie

Standard

girl scout trifoil with outline by barnheartowlWhen I was a Brownie, I was a cooking-selling machine.

Part of my success was due to my Aunt Dash. She worked at an upscale clothing store for women, and every year at cookie time, she’d have me come in to sell to her co-workers. I don’t know if the co-workers were just being nice of if they were cookie fiends, but those women scooped up most of my inventory.

I sold cookies to my family too.

My parents did their part to support me, not just by driving me around to make deliveries and handling the money, but also by actually buying cookies. Our nuclear family tried them all, but our favorites were Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and—of course—Thin Mints. Later, the Girl Scout
Cookie Corporation (or whatever it was called) came out with Carmel Delights, which I was quite fond of, but my parents liked to stay with the tried and true varieties. Personally, I never met a Girl Scout cookie I didn’t like.

Members of my mother’s large extended family bought cookies too. None of my girl cousins were ever in the Girl Scouts, so I had the family cookie market cornered. My MaMa was always good for a few boxes, as were most of my aunts and uncles. My godfather did more than his fair share to support my cookie empire. Other than Aunt Dash, I don’t remember my dad’s side of the family buying any of my cookies, but maybe that was because they lived farther away.

After selling to my aunt’s coworkers and my family members, I took the cookie show on the road.

Despite my mother’s fear of the kidnapping of her children, she’d dress me in my Brownie uniform and help me load boxes of cookies into the family’s rusty green wagon so I could peddle the delicacies through the streets of the mobile home park where we lived. My younger sibling went with me, for safety, in our mother’s mind, but I’m sure the added adorableness didn’t hurt sales.

Stay together, my mother would tell us, and don’t ever ever ever go into anyone’s house.

We’d set out to knock on the front door of each trailer in turn.

I had a routine and a spiel. I’d climb the steps to the front door and knock knock knock. Then I’d run back down the steps to join my sibling next to the wagon full of deliciousness. When the resident opened the door, I’d say Hi! I’m a Girl Scout, and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies… From there I’d let the adult’s questions (How much? What flavors?) lead the conversation.

I was exciting to be out in the world without parental supervision. It was exciting to have a product people wanted to buy. It was exciting to be handed money and be trusted to make change. I felt like quite the grownup until…

I ran up the steps. Knock knock knock. I ran back down the steps. A woman opened the door. In my excitement, I blurted out, I’m a Girl Scout cookie!

The woman burst out laughing. Of course she did! How hilarious is a little girl announcing she’s a cookie? Pretty hilarious!

I felt my cheeks flush with shame. Oh, the humiliation!

I didn’t feel like a grown up anymore, but I was nothing if not persistent.  I’m a Girl Scout, I mean, I corrected myself, and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies.

What could she do but buy a box?

Image courtesy of https://openclipart.org/detail/215146/girl-scout-trifoil-with-outline.