Friday, May 23, 2008

The Friday Five

1. What were some of the smells and tastes of your childhood?
Until I was 12, we lived in an apartment where the entrance was behind a deli; I remember the smell of baked shells. I remember the smell of all the grapes growing on the vines in the backyard of that apartment (yes, there was a backyard). My great-grandmother used to come and pick them with us. Once my parents got divorced and we moved into my grandmother's house, the smell of my Uncle E's Ivory Soap in the bathroom after he took a bath every night, is still something I vividly remember.

Tastes? Something I actually remembered a couple of weeks ago as my younger son asked me how we'd celebrate our birthdays in school, was Fudgetown Cookies. I couldn't find a photo of the box as it existed when I ate them, but least you can see what the cookies themselves looked like. They were scalloped shaped chocolate cookies with fudge in the middle. Yum!

Here's a cel from a commercial showing the characters they used to advertise them on TV. I can actually remember them!

In the box there were four packages of six cookies, and I'd give out two to each child in my class on my birthday (back in the day when we could still do that). They were great!

Another taste that I remember is a Marathon Bar; an eight inch long braided caramel bar coated in milk chocolate. I wish I could find a photo of what the candy bar itself looked like. Apparently there are some curly candies out there which are supposed to be similar, but the packaging, complete with the ruler on the back to emphasize its large size, was definitely part of the experience.

2. What did you have as a child that you do not think children today have?
Time for free play outside; a neighborhood of friends to call for. I also had a longer time to be a child. People don't protect their children from maturing too early these days. I played with Barbie Dolls till 8th grade. That's 12 years old. Know any 12-year-olds playing with Barbies now? (Barbie has such a giant head and big lips now anyway, who would want to bother?)

3. What elementary grade was your favorite?
Second grade, Sister Mary, St. Luke's School, Whitestone, NY. She was so wonderful I even invited her to my birthday party. She dropped a present off but didn't stay. She was so gentle and kind and I adored her. Otherwise elementary school was filled with cliques and I didn't belong. I was happy to get out.

4. What summer do you remember the best as a child?
My summers from my childhood (before my teens) are all a blur. I guess because they were pretty much all the same. My grandparents had a house on a lake in Maine, and they built another house across the road from it (we still to this day, refer to it as the "back house"). We'd go up for a few weeks every summer. Eventually my parents bought a little summer cottage on a pond in the same area, and once divorced my mother managed to hang on to it. Every single summer my mother packed us all up and we went to Maine the day after school ended in June. And we returned home to NY the day before school started the following September.

Although as an adult I can appreciate that my mother wanted to get my out of "the city" for the summer, the fact is, I was really lonely. We saw my mother's extended family there, but I didn't have any contemporaries. I am the oldest of my generation in my extended family. After me comes my brother and a slew of boys. The girl closest in age to me is nine years younger than me. There were no girls in our area on the pond either.

I was such a bookworm at the time. And I can remember my mother telling me to go outside and play. I remember thinking "doing what, and with whom? Most parents would be thrilled to have a child who reads all the time, what's the problem?" Thank goodness for my books; they kept me sane. I can look back in my diaries today and check the lists of books I read all summer. Someday maybe I'll drag one out and post it here.

I will say that however lonely I was for girls my own age, I did at all times feel very loved. When I think back to those days, especially in my grandparents' back house before my parents' divorce, I feel warm inside. I felt safe and secure and loved.

5. What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self, and at what age?
Don't read Emese's journal.

At age 14 my best friend Emese (pronounced Emma-shay) got her first real boyfriend, where making out was actually part of their regular activities. I kept asking her questions about what it was like. And she'd tell me she wished she could tell, but Jack (I think that was his name) told her not to tell me anything. So one day I said "well, what if I take your journal and read it, so this way you wouldn't have technically told me anything". And she replied "I guess that would be true!". Except that then she got all pissed off at me when I actually did it. We had been friends for nine years. She was my best friend all through elementary school. And she threw it all away on a stupid boy.

I suppose I did too. I threw it all away because of jealousy over a stupid boy. So now I'd tell myself "mind your own business." I so wish that at some point Emese would have forgiven me. I mean, she did tell me I could read the darn thing; I wouldn't have done it if I didn't feel she was okay with it. But when my parents divorced we moved a few blocks away, and we went to different high schools, so we never saw each other.

In the long run, I suppose it was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. Would I be the same person I am today if she were still in my life?