Question (A to Z Blog Challenge – “Q” – April 2019)

One of my favourite questions to ask people I know is “What is your very earliest memory?” It is almost always fascinating. Take my first Hindi teacher’s answer for example. Born in Charik, Punjab in 1922, his answer would be nearly as different from mine as anyone’s could be. It was almost certainly from the early 1920’s, almost 100 years ago.

He told me that his father was an ayurvedic physician who would travel by horse to neighbouring villages. Back in those days some would pay by money but just as many would pay with barter often vegetables or fruit. One thing he remembered about his dad was that he always had to have the best horse in the village. If someone else got a better one he would also get an upgrade.

One day he was playing out in the field when he heard the sound of a horse coming. He knew it was his father and he was really excited. He’d been gone for some time and whenever he came home there were often sweets. Jumping up, little Jagdish ran as fast as he could for the house. He didn’t make it far, though. Within a few steps he tripped and bumped his chin. It hurt and bled like crazy, scaring him.

Based on where the memory was, it was likely in 1973. I would have been 2-3 years old.

It is very dark outside and my dad and I are riding in his Plymouth Fury. Because it’s the early 1970’s I am not in a car seat, I am not wearing a seat belt. I’m sitting in the front passenger’s seat.

This is as close as I remember to the car we were in.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In my mind I can still see the dimly lit dashboard and the little light that comes on when my dad turns on the high beams. I’m fascinated by how he does this seemingly by magic, but then he shows me that he’s pushing a button on the floor with his left foot.

We stop talking for a bit and he turns on the AM radio. Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love comes on. I’ve never heard music like this before.

I am both attracted to the sound and a bit scared. It’s loud, there’s an urgent energy to it and in at about 1 min 45 seconds in a part of the song that sounds terrifying. Why is the guy screaming? What are those sounds about? Is everything OK? I watch out the front window as we drive down a dark road, the trees above lit by our headlights.

The song ends and the car starts to slow down. I hear a rhythmic click-click-click-click and see a tiny light on the front left part of the car’s hood flashing yellow. As if we’re following it’s direction we turn left and stop outside a big brick building.

“This is an Army Barracks” my dad says. “It’s where soldiers live.”

We walk inside and there are lots of men in olive green pants and white t-shirts hanging around. Many are smoking. It’s noisy and they greet my dad. He says “This is my son.” and they seem happy.

And that’s pretty much where the memory ends.

So let me ask you, dear readers. What is your earliest memory?

This entry is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge for April 2019. Click here for more info.

10 thoughts on “Question (A to Z Blog Challenge – “Q” – April 2019)

  1. I’m not sure what my earliest memory is, but when you were describing the riding in a car without seatbelts, etc., that took me back to riding in the car with my parents the same way. We survived, too!

      1. Yes! We never had a station wagon, but my dad would put a piece of plywood across the back seat and put stuff behind the front seats to make it a bed for my brother and I to sleep on while we drove places. It was awesome!

  2. My dad had a Toyota Corolla Sport Coupe and I remember whenever we’d get in a beeper would go BUZZZZZZZ and it wasn’t until six years later when the seatbelt laws came into effect in California that I realized it was the SEATBELT alarm…

  3. Memories for me are tricky. My dad was a photographer, and we have so many photos from my and my brother’s childhood, that I’m never sure whether I’m remembering an event or it’s because I’ve got a photo. Not a bad thing, just interesting. But I do remember our trips in station wagons, with us in the back, two air mattresses to lie on and making faces at the people in the car behind us!

    1. Right – I have a few of those memories. My suspicion about some of them is that it’s a combination: the memory is real but it’s got more tenacity because I saw the photo periodically to remind me of it.

  4. I’m in a hallway of an apartment building. It’s an old building, an historical house, maybe two apartments per floor. A glass door with multiple panes and a sheer curtain is on my right. Stairs are behind me to the door to outside. The street is scary and busy. Across the street through the window, I can see rock and a green painted staircase going up over the rocks to the house on the hill.

    I look back to the door and go through. I’m in a long narrow hallway going to my left and right. Dark bedroom and bright shiny tub room are to my left. A busy room with lots of music stuff is in front of me. I go to the right, slowly. The room is bright, my mom is there, backlit in sunlight. She’s happy to see me and leans down, way down.

    I tell my mom about this and my grandmother. Surely you can’t remember that, they say. But I do and describe more details – not things I’ve seen in pictures. Turns out it was the only apartment my parents lived in together. They got divorced when I was a year or so old. We definitely weren’t living there by the time I was two. The house across the street with the green staircase going up the rock face is still there.

    And I remember tons of things from around 4 years old, for sure.

    1. That is excellent! I love this story and the fact that you had the details to back it up. I have a few other memories from around the same time but most are only sensory flashes: having my photo taken (but maybe I just remember the photo), visiting the circus, going to the furniture store to get a “big boy bed”. None have the level of detail that the one I shared above does.

    1. It was for me also. I have a couple of others that could be from the same time but they’re vague moments – maybe a minute or two in all. This one was the first really coherent one.

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