Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why are memories of early childhood the clearest and easiest to recall?

My clearest childhood memories are of Mokane, Missouri. I’ve always considered Mokane to be my home town. After all, I was born there. But the fact is the Mokane that exists today isn’t the same Mokane of my memories. That Mokane is gone, if it ever existed at all. Childhood memories are sharp, bright, clear, and totally unreliable. I know that. But I still like to cling to the picture of River Street and Smoky Road that comes back so easily when I close my eyes.

We left Mokane when I was ten years old. How that came about is a whole other story that I must write down sometime. I lived there for ten years and for some of those years I was too young to be accumulating any memories at all. But still there are many memories.

I was born in a house on the corner of River Street. I think they named it that because when the Missouri River flooded, it came into Mokane by flowing right up River Street. We lived in a wood frame house with white clapboard siding just like almost every other house in the neighborhood. There was a front porch and a front room that you stepped right into from the porch. It was called the “front room” – not the living room. There was a couch and a chair for company, but Mama and Daddy’s bed was there, too. It was an iron frame bedstead with bare springs and a cotton mattress. The bed was always carefully made up with a bedspread or a nice quilt on it.

The kids bedroom opened off the front room and then the kitchen opened off of it. There was a front porch with a swing. The tiny back porch had a well with a pitcher pump just a few steps from the back door.

 That house seems small for a family with five children when I think of it now. But when I was little I didn’t feel crowded at all.

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