I was over at Studio30 Plus looking at their writing prompts, and one was “share a favorite childhood memory.” I thought to myself, “I had a childhood! I have memories! I can do this!”
So, I decided to flip through my childhood photo albums for inspiration and to maybe jog my weird memory organ (brain) into remembering something that would make for an interesting post. You know, a great story about how a day with my grandpa fishing at the lake taught me a lesson about always looking both ways before you cross the street. Something fun and relatable and narrative-y.
No. What happened was I flipped through the photo albums, soaking in the 1980s goodness, and forgot about that special memory I was supposed to be pulling from them. In and of itself, basking in the neon glow of the 1980s is in fact a favorite childhood memory. So, come with me on a journey through the Me Decade by looking at pictures of, well, me.
I was born in 1977, so the ages of 3-13, the real meaty part of childhood, were all in the 80s. And, you can tell. I’m not sure I could be more of an 80s kid:
This is my fourth birthday party. It was Super Friends-themed. I still have a great fondness for the Super Friends but in a more sarcastic smart ass way than when I was a kid. I adored Wonder Woman. You can see the cake back there on the table.
There’s several pictures of me opening gifts at this birthday party, all 80s-licious. This one is my favorite – here’s me with some Star Wars underoos. Underoos were the best.
Here I am opening my stocking on Christmas. I’ve just pulled out a Hot Wheels General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. I LOVED The Dukes of Hazzard. My mom plays dumb these days and claims she doesn’t remember me ever watching the show. My mom is not senile, so she’s lying. Mom, you’re a liar! I watched it every week and you know it. P.S. I had no idea about the Confederate flag back then. I kinda had to un-learn that it was a decoration on the top of the Duke boys’ car. I almost want to say that it’s too bad that The Dukes of Hazzard is sullied by the inclusion of the Confederate flag in the series, but that’s implying that it otherwise would be some kind of masterpiece. I’m getting way off topic now. Moving on.
Up through age four, I really loved a variety of things. Then, I became more lame and embraced more girly stuff that I was supposed to. I mean, not that I didn’t love stuff like Strawberry Shortcake, because I did, because hello? look at that birthday cake, but I look back on this stuff and think it’s funny that I liked so much “girl stuff” considering I have really never been and am not “girly.” Having said that, I was all about Strawberry Shortcake for a year or two.
Then, it was Care Bears. Good God I loved Care Bears. I think it has a lot to do with categorization – this bear is this color, has this on it’s tummy, and represents this “thing.” So easy! I also have a real “collect them all” problem, too, and Care Bears is custom built for that weakness. My sister is the cutie on the right.
Rainbow Brite, yo. I don’t have much to say about Rainbow Brite, I just wanted to show this picture because I think my sister’s expression is funny. My theory is that she’s making that face because that’s actually HER Rainbow Brite doll I’m holding up for a picture (this was later confirmed by my sister).
Last but not least, here’s one of my most favorite possessions of all time. My Walkman. An introvert’s best friend. So. many. tapes. Tapes and tapes and tapes. Mix tapes, storybook tapes (at the sound of the tone, turn the page), pop music, oh it was just the best. And I probably ruined my hearing with it. Worth it.
What were your favorite possessions from childhood?
As I’ve mentioned too many times already, we just moved from Atlanta back to North Carolina, where both Tom and I are from.
I was going through my phone pictures and I found two little examples of things I’ll miss from our time in Georgia.
The first is from the Japanese restaurant near our house. There’s a mural with lots of rabbits and anthropomorphic vegetables. My favorite part of the mural is this:
In all the fun and laughter amongst the rabbits and the vegetables (ok, yes tomatoes are a fruit), one rabbit seems to have gotten a little carried away in her enthusiasm, and this is clearly upsetting to the tomato she’s so happily rough housing. Maybe I like it so much because that’s how I felt in Atlanta – just a little tomato being jostled around by an over-active rabbit. Yeah, I got deep and metaphorical there for a second. Please know that I did not actually like it because that’s how I felt in Atlanta – I like it because a tomato is being man handled by a rabbit, so there’s no need to delve deeper to see why it’s so awesome to me.
The other image on my phone was of a run-down mansion that looks like it was built in the 1980s. We would pass it on our way to the movie theater that plays retro movies, also often from the 1980s. The house is a pastel peach, and I can just imagine all sorts of 80s douche bags dressed Miami Vice-style, having big parties and thinking it would last forever. And it sort of did, because nobody has changed that house since its heyday. This too could be seen as a monument to my time in Atlanta – arriving with the best of intentions and then slowly feeling the need for a change but continuing to stay the same. But, HA, no. We didn’t move to Atlanta intending to stay. Nope, I liked passing by this house because it stuck out like a sore thumb, reminded me of the 80s, and was on the way to watching old movies on the big screen.
Then came the pictures from the short two weeks we’ve been back. This past weekend we went to a small family reunion, held in my father’s small hometown, where my grandmother lived until she died. My grandparents owned a farm. My dad hated helping out on the farm because he was allergic to everything involving farms (which he so lovingly passed on to me). So, when the time came, my dad sold his share of the farm to my uncle, who is more enamored with farm land and farm-related activities.
So, while I love this town, and have many wonderful memories of spending time on the farm, I don’t actually know much about the ins and outs of farming. As a child I did more “look, I’m on a tractor!” novelty tractor rides than finding out exactly what tractors can actually do. I was also more, “hey look, there are peanuts everywhere and I can have some!” than actually understanding how the peanuts got there.
As we made our way to the farm, we ended up behind this thing. It looked like someone took a bunch of other things and made this one thing. It also looked like perhaps we would find an alien driving it if we looked close enough. I can deduce that the giant old-timey looking wheels are to go down the row of crops, and that the tank on top (you can’t see it from this angle), sprays stuff, but as to what it’s actually called, and what it really does – dunno. But, still, there’s a part of me that sees something like this and it feels right. I may be allergic to farms, but it’s still there in my genes somewhere.
We passed the contraption (after contemplating driving under it just to see if we could fit) and continued on toward our destination. I haven’t been back to this town in years. Living in Georgia meant there wasn’t a lot of time to visit anywhere other than where my mom and sister live. So when we finally hit the street we were looking for, there stood the image that trumps all man-handled tomatoes and coke-filled pastel 80s mansions:
My family’s road. On my family’s farm. A lovely reminder of where my father came from and, by extension, where I came from. And while my dad isn’t here anymore, and my grandma is gone, too, the road bearing their last name is still here, and I can visit it any time I want. And that’s what being back home means to me.
That, and free food from my mom’s house, but mostly that.
Before cell phones, we had both hands free for the majority of the time. It’s funny how quickly we forget the times before cell phones – when you actually had to be at a place that had a phone to use it, and sometimes you even had to ask if you could use it.
But, I’m more concerned with our hands. Nowadays most people in public are using one or both of their hands to talk or play on their phone. What did we do with ourselves before that? I’ll tell you.
Men wore robes and coats every day, and always used the pockets.
Women, ever so lightly, ever so deftly, used one hand to caress their collars.
This morning I woke up and looked at the clock. It was 8:25. “Oh no!” I thought to myself, Tom’s going to be late for work. So I did my wifely duty and woke him up.
Me: Hey, it’s 8:25
Me: Did you remember to set your alarm?
Tom: I’m not working today.
That means it’s a movie and dog walking day! Which means that instead of a real post, I’m putting up more pictures from my Barbie doll trunk. Just like my husband not realizing he needed my help waking him up, you didn’t realize you needed to look at pictures of old dolls, but here I am. I’m a giver like that.
Pictures taken of dolls found as is, or as was, circa early 1990s.
You’re welcome, everyone!