Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's In a Memory

I once read that if a person has memories of when they were very, very young their childhood was a good one. I have shared some of my earliest memories with my mom and it seems I have a few of when I was just under two. And I would have to agree that I had a pretty darn good childhood and a lot of fond memories.

Whenever I've been asked about my childhood, I have likened it to growing up 'Beaver Cleaver'. My family consisted of a dad who was a school teacher, a stay-at-home mom who got up with us at the crack of dawn during the school year to make breakfast and lunches, and who could cook a mean pot roast, two older brothers, myself, two cats (not always the same two) and a dog.

We lived in a relatively small town (15,000) and everybody knew everybody, which could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing, depending on who your parents were. Because of my dad's teaching gig and the fact that he reffed football and basketball and taught Driver's training, there was no way I would be able to get away with anything because he knew too many people. So I led a relatively boring life through high school.

My brothers were complete opposites. My oldest brother was very mechanical and to quote my dad, 'Scott was the only kid I knew who got through high school with no homework assignments.' I remember him taking things apart and putting them back together. And they worked. Even without the leftover pieces. He loved to execute the Chinese torture technique on me and my other brother which usually left me freaking out in mass hysterics only because my other brother would never let Scott get the best of him and I was sure that he would die at the hands of Scott. Scott eventually entered the army, told his CO to eff off because they wouldn't let him come home to see my mom when she went in for cancer surgery and was 'honorably' discharged the same year.

My other brother, Matt, was skinny. He was like the .5 child in the perfect family that has 2.5 children because when he turned sideways we couldn't see him. He hated swimming pools and my only memories of him in such places are of him shivering uncontrollably with blue lips even if it was in the dead of summer and 100+ degrees. And he loved the Pittsburg Steelers. In fact we went to Pittsburg in the summer of 1980-something(who cares what the year really was since were from 'dry' and not humid Oregon and it was freaking miserable and hot) and walked on the turf that the Steelers played on. It was like entering the holy land. I remember one extremely horrible Christmas when he didn't get a Steelers helmet because they were sold out. It was the worst of times.

When he got to high school he became a runner. And popular. Luckily by the time I entered high school, Scott had graduated, but I had to live with the tag of 'Matt's little sister'. And I hated running.

There was always some sort of weapon around the house that us kids found to amuse ourselves. BB guns, pellet guns, pocket knives, crab apples, wheel barrows full of firewood... Fortunately I escaped most, ok, all of the injury inflicted by these things, but Matt was not so fortunate. Like the time he and Scott were bringing in firewood and Scott told Matt to hold the 'ramp' (a flimsy piece of bark - ok, maybe not bark, but you get the picture) so that he could push the wheelbarrow down the step onto the back porch. Well, the ramp didn't hold and the picture in my head before Matt was taken to the emergency room was him sitting on the kitchen counter, mom dialing the rotary phone (like she was calling 999-9999) and holding his hand in the air with bones sticking out of his skin. Did I mention it was his birthday and several of his friends were coming over for a party?

Or the time he and Scott got into a crab apple fight and Matt ended up in the emergency room because of a well placed crab apple to the eye.

My poor mother.

Matt was big into putting together model airplanes. I learned quickly that model glue does make your fingers stick together, permanently, and model paint will stain the dining room table. It was a tedious hobby, but the finished product was pretty cool. My brothers shared a room and they had a fleet of aircraft hanging from their ceiling. They were mostly WWII aircraft: F4 Wildcats, B52 Bombers, Kingcobras, Invaders, Destroyers, Helldivers.

For fun, Matt would put together models of German airplanes and we would take them out back and tie them from the branches of the Juniper trees. And then shoot them down with our BB guns(my cousins didn't call me Annie Oakley for nuthin'). From the carnage on the ground, it looked as though we shot down the whole Nazi fleet right here in Oregon. I know they say, 'Don't mess with Texas', but the kids on NE 11th street were doin' a little whoop-A of their own.

We always had animals and cats adopting our family. I remember when Sweetie Pie showed up and adopted us. She was the meanest cat I have ever known (besides my great-grandma Sabo's orange cat that would jump out and attack my legs). Back then, there wasn't a big campaign to spay ones cats, so we didn't. She had thousands of kittens and we ended up keeping one and naming her Mimi. She was the second meanest cat I knew. Sweetie Pie disappeared and Mimi became the Matriarch of the house. We still didn't believe in spaying our cat and she birthed thousands and we kept one. He was named Guido. Guido was awesome. He was a huge orange and white cat that ruled the neighborhood. I think he was a pimp but I'm not sure. But he was cool and I was ticked when my parents gave him away after I moved out.

We had two dogs that I remember growing up. Aussie and Missy. Aussie was an Australian shepherd that was the smartest dog I've ever known. My parents had 5 acres on the outskirts of town where we raised steers. We would go out daily to feed them and tend to dad's garden and Aussie would jump out of the back of the truck as soon as we got to the gate and start herding the steers. All three of them. Unfortunately, Aussie passed away from Parvo when we were away on family vacation. Us kids were devastated.

So we went to the pound when we got home and found Missy. My parents tried to make her an outdoor dog and told my brother she had to sleep out in the doghouse. Well, I remember many mornings looking out the back window and seeing a sleeping bag hanging out of the doghouse. Missy soon became an indoor dog. And was a part of the family for 14 years.

My dad's family was in Ohio and we only saw them every five years. But my mom grew up in California and us kids loved going to LA to visit Grandma and Grandpa Vic. My grandma's family was very musical and she bought me an old upright piano when I was five. I still have it to this day. What I loved most about going to grandma's house was that she and grandpa always had bologna, white bread, Kraft cheese slices and 7-up in the fridge. That is every kids dream meal and we only got that stuff when we were there. At Christmas, grandma always had the box of assorted chocolates and 'someone' always took bites out of all of them to find the coconut filled one.

Every girl likes to dress up dolls and I was no exception. That dress that is adorning that most adorable baby girl (me) was a permanent fixture on my favorite doll. I still have that dress to this day and if I was organized, I could find the picture of Kenzi wearing it as a baby.

To this day, I have a very close knit family. My parents have been in Israel for nearly two weeks on a missions trip and I call and leave messages on their home answering machine because I miss them so much.

Matt lives in Virginia with his wife and 11 of his 12 children (yes, they are all theirs and no they are not Mormon or Catholic) and when we get together it is a great time had by all.

Scott lives here and we talk frequently. Whenever we get together with the folks it's a lot of laughing and good times.

When the whole family is together (meaning my brothers, me, my parents and all...however many grand kids) it is apparent by the look on my dad's face that he is very proud of his family. There is always much laughing, story telling, reminiscing and making new memories.

As you can imagine, I am very thankful for the family I have.


sherri said...

Our families are very much alike (except NO ONE has 12 children!) and I also use the Beaver Clever home phrase.

I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane and the old photos. Priceless.

Helen said...

It was great getting to know you better through your childhood, Annie. Love you!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Loved this post. I was the "Eddie Haskell" in our house. But I was still loved.

I still see a lot of that playful little girl in you :)

Rebecca on The Homefront said...

Your poor mother. *snicker*

I love this! It's funny to read about your childhood and then think about your posts and Matt's blog. I think that's the great thing about siblings...they've seen you through it all and can remember who you used to be as well as who you have become.

Billy Coffey said...

Wow, you have such a cool family. Truly redneck worthy. You're right, small town life does have its strengths and weaknesses, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

And is there anything better than a bologna and cheese sandwich? I think not.

Thanks for opening up your scrapbook, Annie. That was awesome.

Wendy said...

Like Rebecca, I was thinking, "Your poor mom!" Boys are something else, aren't they? Good story!

katdish said...

I remember the first time I was waxing poetic to Ron about how my brother and sisters used to sucker punch me in the middle of the back (ninja attack style), only to have him stare at me in horror.

I was like, " didn't do that?"


"Oh neither."

This was cool, Annie. Thanks.

Amrita said...

Those are a bunch of nice memories. Chinese LOL

Michelle said...

Hi Annie K!!!!

D. K. Stangeland said...

My memories of you:

You always had baby kittens. Summer, winter, spring, fall - in the box in the closet.

You always wore dresses and tights. No pants for Annie K.

Roller Skating in the cemetery.

Sunday basketball games at old Cascade. Hide and go seek in the locker rooms.


Sound of Music sing a longs.

Wizard of Oz at Ruth's.

The freezing wood floors in your room in the winter - and the summer too!

Your brothers' models - trucks, planes, etc.

Your dad's compost pile. I never remember the garden, just the compost pile.

Ok, that's enough. Rock on sista!