How Far Does Your Memory Go Back?

By Joe Darby


Memories can be fun, or sometimes wrong — or made up. My very first memory has to be from very early in my life, because of what happened in that memory.

I can see it in my mind’s eye today — my mother feeding me and offering me a spoon of some kind of food and I was shaking my head no, indicating I didn’t want it. I had to have been less than 2 years old for her to be feeding me. (No, to all you folks who think I’m lazy — Momma did not feed me until I was a teenager.)

Then again, memories can be wrong. To be more precise, you can have a memory that not’s really a memory but has to do with an incident that you were told about so often, that it seems like a memory.

Let me give an example. Momma often told me as I was growing up that during the latter part of World War II, I scared the heck out of her. To set the scene, I was born on Nov. 27, 1941. That’s 10 days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, kicking off the war for the United States.

So by the time the war ended in mid-1945, I would have been roughly 3 1/2 years old. Anyway, I had no doubt been hearing a lot about the war being discussed by my family and others and had heard war news on the radio. And one afternoon, I was playing in the living room and Momma was in the kitchen, probably preparing lunch, when she heard me screaming bloody murder.

She rushed into the living room to find me writhing on the floor. “My Lord, son, what’s the matter,” she said, or words to that effect. And I replied, “A German soldier got me in the stomach with a bayonet!”

Well, relief and irritation combined to flood Momma’s emotions. She was glad I was really okay but was perturbed that I’d put her through a moment’s panic.

Now, it seems that I remember that incident. But I don’t really know if I do or not, because Momma told me — and others — about it so many times.

Even though she was even younger, my bride Mary has genuine memories of World War II.

Her father was an American GI and her mother an English lass and Mary was born in the summer of 1943. In early 1945, when Mary would have been a little less than 2, the Germans were sending V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets against England and the two cities in which Mary lived, Derby and Hull, were both hit pretty hard.

She can remember the air raids, the sirens, the sound of the buzz bombs, the roar of the British fighter planes trying to shoot down the V-1’s (the V-2’s, actually cruise missiles, were unstoppable) and also recalls being placed under a metal table to protect her from any near hits.

All those things are traumatic enough to remember, even for a toddler.

She also remembers the very rough ocean crossing in 1946, when she and her mother came to the US to be with her father here in the states. Everyone was sea sick and feeling terrible. That’s something one would remember also.

So, think back on your own first memories. I’ll bet some of you can come up with some very interesting ones. And remember to read my column every week, if you don’t mind!