Watching the world though the eyes of our fourteen-month-old grandson, it is easy to see how those first memories that stick with all of us are so vivid and enduring. To those bright, blue eyes, everything is new, intriguing, and worth investigating.
Everything is memorable to a memory just in its early stages.
But I wonder, in this very different world from my time as a child, if he’ll miss out on some memory opportunities. Not the big stuff—birthdays, first days at school, first love—but the less significant albeit often most enduring experiences.
The other day I was teaching him several important life lessons, the lyrics to “great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and “Comet, makes your teeth turn green. Comet, tastes like gasoline…,” when the memory of another anthem popped into my head. Something that he may never experience in the same way we did.
On the last day of school leaving Ashton School in Cumberland, RI, during that glorious bus ride home—without bus monitors, seat belts, or restrictions on jumping between seats—heading into the first days of summer vacation, all the way to our final stop—and not at the end of our driveway but at a central bus stop where we all scattered to our homes— we would scream at the top of our lungs,
“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.”
We undoubtedly damaged the hearing of the poor bus driver as we repeated the chant over and over. The entire way.
I wonder if Levi will have such an experience.
Or, during the middle of the winter, waking to see snow falling at a healthy pace and the sound of WPRO radio and Salty Brine’s distinctive voice intoning, “No School, Cumberland.” Just those words seemed to keep you warm enough all day to play in the snow. As a side note, since it seemed even on cloudy days there was no school in Foster-Gloucester, I wonder if anyone ever finished a school year there?
Or the simple joy of wandering in the woods between Broadview Acres and Lippett Estates in Cumberland at the tender age of six or seven-years-old without raising any parental concerns or triggering the summoning of search dogs and police officers to track us down.
While I have no doubt Levi will experience many memorable moments, some of which will stay with him for a lifetime, I hope he does remember all the words to “Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and holds tight to the memory of the simple things.
After all, traditions are the framing of our character.