Isn't it weird what we remember from our past and what we don't? What is your earliest memory? I have a memory of being picked up by my grandfather in our kitchen in Rosebank, twisting around and putting my hand flat onto the hot plate of the stove. However, I am not sure whether this is an actual memory or whether I only remember it because the story was retold to me many times. My poor, long-suffering Pa Carlson was in terrible trouble from Granny for being so negligent and I don't think he was ever forgiven for it.
I have another memory of being small and sitting in my highchair painting. This I am sure is my first memory because nobody else was present to re-tell the story. (My mother had gone off to attend to Dalene, who was a small baby). I would have been about 3 years old (quite big for a highchair). I remember looking at my tumbler of water and realising that the water was too dirty needed to be changed. I climbed out of my highchair and went to the fridge (the fridge because I could reach it) and not the taps because they were too high. However, the fridge was on a stand and had a lever type handle which you had to pull (it was the "olden days" remember). I tugged at the handle and the door would not budge, so I pulled harder (I was strong even then). I remember the entire fridge tumbling down on top of me. Lucky for me the door had opened and formed a V (so I was not crushed to death) but the sound was deafening and hundreds of bottles and jars and leftovers fell on top of me. I don't remember much more of the incident. I was uninjured and my mother was hysterical and cross with me. ("Don't you ever do that again, Jennifer")
I remember my father having a scooter and taking me around the corner to nursery school (Mrs Goddard's nursery school in Rosebank) standing on the runner board of the scooter (how careless and dangerous Dad). I remember the nursery school and the day they built the new wooden jungle gym. The smell of the tar poles and stickiness of them when we touched them. I remember horrible nannies forcing us to sleep on stretchers after lunch and throwing shoes at us if we moved or spoke.
I remember crying at my first day at Rosebank Junior School. It was then a tiny school on the Common opposite the Rondebosch Cottage Hospital. I remember that we used to have to walk to our classroom in Sub B which was at the orphanage down the road (now Teen Centre). Miss Maarsh was my Sub B teacher and she was beautiful and had lovely nails. There are certain events I remember from Junior School and then, of course, high schools memories are that much clearer.
I often wish that we could have clear dreams (that you would remember in colour and in full detail in the morning) of one full day in our past. Which day would I choose? When I was 5, 15 or 25? As much as I would love to observe what I was like as an awkward 15 year old at "that school" on the Main Road and as much as I would love to re-run a day in my life when I had babies, I think I would choose to be 5 again.
I would love to go back to our house in Rosebank, with the huge Morning Glory hedge and, visit the lovely wendy house called Jendal (that is what you called houses in those days) at the bottom of our back garden which Pa Carlson built and decorated for Dalene and I (with perfectly made-to-scale wooden furniture); wear the beautiful hand knitted dresses my Granny Housego used to make for me; eat Granny Jonas's condensed milk cocunut cookies until I was sick; slide up and down the railings of the 15 steps going down from the road to our house (I had the shiney pole in the sun and Dalene the rusty one on the shady side - big sisters had priviledges in those days); sit on the toilet (seat down) and watch my mother putting on her make-up before getting ready to go out but most of all I would love to stand on the runner board of my Dad's scooter while he took me for a ride. Feeling safe and protected standing between his very hairy blonde-haired arms. I would feel the wind blow my long hair all around my face and even into my mouth. I would get to school and smell the Old Spice from his face on my hair the whole day. And everything was good.