Old memories

It’s seven o’clock on Saturday morning and in my head I hear

“No more rehearsing and nursing a part.
We know every part by heart.

Oh, what heights we’ll hit!
On with the show, this is it!”

I have not watched The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour in about four decades. I do not watch cartoons at all, in fact. Yet seven o’clock on Saturday means Warner Bros. cartoons. Like a visual alarm clock, I see Bugs and Daffy and the parade of characters marching across the stage like Rockettes: Foghorn Leghorn, Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, Pepé le Pew, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzalez, Tweety Bird.

Is it odd that I’ve given so much of my old-memory-brain to this thing that shouldn’t matter?

In the same vein, when work or travel requires me to get up very early – three, four, five o’clock – the first thing I hear in my head is, “Goin’ fishin’!”

Many times on weekends my dad and I would leave home very early to fish. He’d have to jostle me awake, and like it happened yesterday I can hear him saying, “Time to get up. We’re goin’ fishin.’” I’d stumble out of bed, pick up my rod and Zebco reel and shuffle to the car. Once on our way we’d listen to the Farm Report because it was pretty much the only thing on the radio.

In the 1980s a lady in her fifties started work where I did. Within five minutes of meeting her I was struck by her gentle, floral fragrance. That in itself was remarkable because I had never noticed or cared about perfume or cologne. Cliché as it was, I asked her what she was wearing. “Oh, it’s just some Nina Ricci cream. Do you like it?”

It hit me. “You smell like my grandmother!”

She was not entirely pleased by the association but we got along well otherwise.

Stuffed peppers. I never prepare or eat them, yet when I see them in a grocery store freezer or on a restaurant menu I’m awash in the memory of Mama’s version. She was a fair cook but not a great one, but I loved her stuffed peppers. She made them with ham and rice, and it was my job to grind the ham in a hand-crank machine that hooked against the counter top.

Maybe this is all covered in Brain Function 101 but it’s a mystery to me. In truth, though, I don’t really need to understand it. The memories themselves are enough.

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