Randy Seaver, in his weekend tradition, has offered yet another fun Saturday Night Genealogy challenge. This week’s topic is answering six questions, originally posed by Judy G. Russell regarding ancestral family members, about our own childhood memories.
Here are my answers to the six questions:
- What was your first illness as a child?
Growing up in the era before there was a vaccination for everything, the first illness I remember having was the measles. Because I have a copy of my elementary school records, I know exactly when I had them, too. The nurse noted on 5 June 1958 that I had been absent for the past two weeks, but was “okay now.” That would have been near the end of my kindergarten year of school. Back then, everyone caught everything and kids didn’t see those diseases as dangerous, although I am sure some parents worried.
2. What was the first funeral you attended?
My grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, died of mad cow disease on 7 December (Pearl Harbor Day) 1968. His was the first funeral I remember attending, as my other grandfather died sixteen years before I was born. I don’t remember attending any other funerals for friends, either, but I have very vague memories of my grandmother taking me to a funeral home for a visitation. I have no idea who the person was, likely one of her friends.
3. What was your favorite book as a child?
My favorite book was likely the one I was currently reading, as I absolutely loved to read. I remember my grandparents visiting us in New Jersey when I was probably about 7 or 8 years old. They brought along all of my mother’s and aunts’ old Nancy Drew books and I read two or three entire books while they were still on their weekend visit. I loved Nancy Drew! However, generally, I preferred non-fiction – history and biographies.
4. What was your favorite class in elementary school?
I loved Mrs. Teninbaum in kindergarten and Mrs. Fine in first grade. I couldn’t wait to start school and discovered that it was the best place ever! I do remember thinking Mrs. Teninbaum was pretty old – she retired a couple of years after I was in her class, so someone in their 60s would seem old to a five year old. The following year, I had the exact opposite experience – Mrs. Fine was a first year teacher. I loved reading and getting to keep flashcards of the vocabulary words I could read as she went around the group when we finished a book. We (boys and girls) also hand sewed a rag doll, which then disappeared for a month or two. The dolls arrived back with beautiful faces done in oil paint. I don’t remember what happened to my doll, though. I guess it was lost to time.
5. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Like with books, this changed over time. I’d say Patty Play Pal was my favorite for several years. I was heartbroken when her arm broke off, but she went to the doll hospital and Santa Claus brought her back to me, all fixed up.
Another favorite toy was a pair of stilts. About the time of the hula hoop rage, all the kids on my street also got stilts. We got pretty good at using them to travel around. I distinctly remember walking all the way around the block (a city block, which wasn’t a short distance) without falling off the stilts even once.
6. Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?
Both my grandparents and aunt and uncle had summer cottages on lakes in New England. There are photos of me in the water and “swimming” when I was two and then swimming with a life preserver at three and four and dog paddling my way around the water when I was five.
I also took weekend swimming lessons at the local YWCA for years. I had worked my way up to pre-life guard level when we moved. That was in the middle of sixth grade.
I don’t think I swam with the greatest form – I particularly didn’t like doing the crawl with my face in the water, but I did a mean sidestroke and backstroke and could swim quite a distance in a lake.
Like Randy, unfortunately, I have no idea how even my parents would have answered any of these questions, except for #6. My father hated the water and didn’t know how to swim, while my mother swam from a young age, like me, and could swim the crawl (without putting her face in the water either) a mile or more. She actually swam all the way to the island out in the lake across from my grandparents’ cottage on summer. It was quite a distance there and back.