where the writers are
Early Memories: Lincoln Logs, The Aunt and the Bath, Jet Cars


Red Room has asked us to blog of early memories.  I remember Christmas morning when I was almost three.  We lived on Long Island, where my sister and I got up before our parents and checked out what had changed around the tree.  We were allowed to look at the presents but not pick them up, certainly not shake them.  I wanted Lincoln Logs and was pretty sure I was getting them, but I didn't pick up the cylindrical present.  After a while my sister and I went around to the back of the tree and started trading balls and ornaments from our side of the tree.  I felt safe, negotiating two plain red balls for an elaborate gold bell as my parents slept.  Later, I scored the fanciest Lincoln Logs, with green slat roofs and red chimneys.

My aunt would bathe me all over, almost.   At the end she'd hand me the soap and say, "You'll have to wash there yourself."

Not long later, I sat in the back seat of a neighbor's new car as he drove me into the Sloan Kettering Institute on Manhattan with him and my dad in front.  He had an early automatic transmission that would down-shift when he floored it.  I had no idea of this detail, so he told me the car had jets.  He'd floor it and, indeed, with the quick acceleration and the noise in the low gear, I searched behind the car for flames.  When we got into Manhattan, he'd discuss each traffic-light as we approached.  From a distance, he'd tell me whether it would be green, yellow or red.  He was never wrong.  I never looked far enough ahead to know the lights were timed up the broad Avenue, so I was convinced he was prescient.