First Memories

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My Interpersonal Communications class and I were talking last week about our earliest memories. Can you remember your earliest memory? Can you pinpoint how old you think you were?

Our sense of smell can remind us of something pleasant or unpleasant immediately. When my children walk into the house after being outside and I’ve got garlic and onion sautéing in olive oil, they immediately say, “Are you making pasta sauce, mommy?” Their noses know. When I pass a man wearing a fragrant cologne it can remind me of someone I don’t want to be reminded of any longer. The smell of a musty basement can bring back feelings of being in my friend’s basement playing with my Barbies. There’s no question that scent is one of our most viable reminders of the past.

My first memory, however, does not involve the sense of smell at all, but rather the senses of taste and sight; in particular with taste, it involves a piece of gum. I was probably about four or five and my family and I were at my grandmother’s house (Nanny). She and my grandfather had a white cape cod in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, with a pretty, flat back yard with beautiful landscaping, grape vines, and a bocce court. Nanny loved to throw parties, and everyone was getting ready for this outdoor barbecue/bocce party. My mother insisted I take a nap, and I went upstairs to do so in my aunt’s room (which I thought was cool because she’s a little over 10 years older than I am, so I loved the unique collectibles she had in her room). I fell asleep on top of her bedspread with gum in my mouth and woke up realizing I had slept with it tucked snugly between my gums and my cheek. It was mushy (those were the days before sugarless gum). I was a bit groggy, and I made my way to the pink bathroom that separated the two upstairs bedrooms in the cape cod. The window was open, allowing the summer air to drift in, and I remember climbing onto the toilet to peek at the festivities. Friends and relatives were beginning to arrive, and all I remember thinking is that I didn’t want to miss the party.

What’s ironic today is that I still don’t like to miss a party.

Are our early memories indicators of who we will become or what our personalities will be like in the future? It’s a great question, and one to which I have no answer. Needless to say, that memory is a fond one. I also remember my mother waking me up at an ungodly hour on July 21, 1969, so that I could see Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. We watched in amazement as we stared at a black and white television set in my parents’ apartment in New Jersey.

Memories are strange things, indeed. There are so many things I want to remember, and still so many things I want to forget. (We’ll save that for another posting at a later date).

But for now, if you’re willing to share, what’s the first thing you remember?

It will be interesting to see which of the five senses your memory recalls. Is it taste, touch, smell, sight, or sound?

I’d love to hear your stories!


  • Elizabeth Johnson

    One of my early memories was being invited to a birthday party for a “public school friend”. I was a catholic school girl so being invited to a party with kids I didn’t know very well was very exciting and scary at the same time. In those days, you really looked your best for a birthday party. No t-shirt, jeans and sandals would do for these parties. It was winter, so I was dressed in a pretty long sleeved dress, white tights, white patent leather shoes and my coat. My coat, oh I was so proud of that coat and wanted to show it off. It was a wool mustard colored coat with big hook and eye buttons. But the best part of the coat was that it was lined with mink! Yes mink. I know right?

    I remember getting out of my mom’s car with the coat draped inside out over my arm. It was cold enough to wear it but I was worried no one would see that it had mink on the inside so I draped it with the mink showing so all of the girls could see that it was mink. Oh how the little things in life make you happy and make you think you are more important than anyone ever notices.

    As some of you know, I am a mother of 3 boys so I don’t have any girls of my own to pass it down to (if I can find it-I need to now call my mom) but maybe one day my granddaughter will fell as special in it as I did.

  • Steph's Scribe


    I had a cool pair of knee-high, white patent leather go-go boots that were super groovy. I think that’s why I have a boot fetish to this day!

    Great memory…I can’t believe your mom still has it! Do you remember how old you were?


  • Chrysti Cantilli

    I think one of my earliest memories was when I was 3 (I think?) and my dad picked me up from nursery school and brought me to grandma and grandpa’s house – I assume because he had to go back to work. I can remember grandma making us tea. She put so much milk in my tea, it was white, and she put so much sugar in it, it was the sweetest thing I had ever had. I don’t remember a smell, but definitely a taste – I still think of it if I ever have hot tea with too much sugar!

  • Cheryl

    I have some preschool memories: of kids painting my belly-button orange, of Spiderman leaping over the wall for a kid’s birthday. School was never as exciting once I turned four.

    • Steph's Scribe


      I won’t ask why the children were painting your belly-button orange, but I think it’s a recreational activity we should bring back for adults. Belly-button painting parties…choose any color from the rainbow…could be the start of a new trend.


  • Stacey Haines

    ONe of my earliest memories was when I have three years old and we lived in a tiny apartment in Landover, MD. I put my tiny hands on the front of the oven and burned the tips of all ten fingers. I remember how much it hurt and how much I cried. I think it was more traumatic for my mom because she doesn’t remember it but her younger sister, our babysitter sure does. Maybe I never liked to cook because of burning my fingers!

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