It’s Not About Cats
MEMORIES? WHERE DO THEY GO TO HIDE? Why do they pop back into your conscious mind after a lifetime stored in the folds and wrinkles of your brain?
I had such a memory bob back to the surface the other day and, when it did, all of the details were as fresh as if it had just happened yesterday.
During our Texas visit I was sitting in the kitchen chatting with my 96 year old Mother-in-Law. We were swapping stories of days gone by. She was telling me about the early days of World War Two. My stories were far less dramatic and interesting. As we talked I recalled an incident from my childhood when I was no more than four or five years old.
I was living in a small town north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, like on most of those preschool days, when my mother had errands to run I was dragged along. On this particular day she had to go to the bank.
I’ve attached a picture of the very bank building involved so you can more easily picture the chaos I caused.
There is nothing more boring for a small child than to be told to “Be quiet and don’t move.” That is when things tend to go awry.
I can see the interior of the bank as clearly as can be. We stood there in line waiting for the Teller, my mother getting her deposit slip and cash ready for deposit. I stood there looking around at all of the people and the guard on duty by the front door. It didn’t take long for me to wander off. Little me just followed a group of grown-ups as they walked out of the door. The guard must have assumed I was with them.
As the picture of the bank shows there were two majestic marble pillars just outside of the bank entrance. I figured that would be a good place to wait for Mom while she did her grown-up stuff inside.
Just standing there I was in everyone’s way so I decided that I would slip behind one of those pillars to wait.
While it was easy for me to get into that space, getting out was not. I was stuck. I had wedged myself in and I couldn’t get out. Help!
It wasn’t long before my mother noticed that I was gone and the search was on! When she and the guard found me she was already angry,
“Get out of there. You know you shouldn’t wander off like that. Now, come on.”
“I can’t. I’m stuck.”
There I was outside of the biggest bank in town, right on the main street, wedged behind a 20 ft. marble pillar with my mother getting both angry and concerned. Me? I started to cry because I knew that I was in several kids of trouble.
It doesn’t take much to draw a crowd. Within a couple of minutes a gaggle of onlookers, all with suggestions about how to get me out of my tight spot, had gathered. My mother was getting a bit panicky and I was crying and apologizing. Even then I had social skills.
The bank staff was on the verge of calling the Fire Department to rescue me when a voice in the crowd yelled, “Just get the kid wet and he should be able to squirm loose.” I was already close to wet on my own.
The next thing I knew someone from the bank had a bucket of water. I was stuck. I was crying, and a second later I was also soaking wet. That didn’t help my mood, but it did let me extract myself from the bank’s grip. There were a few cheers, but also a few laughs. I must have looked like a drowned rat.
Other than having to walk home dripping wet with my mother holding my hand like a vise, I don’t remember much of what happened after that, but it couldn’t have been good.
A few years later when it came time for me to open my first bank account I went to another bank – one that didn’t have marble pillars.
That was good, John. You should write more about your “growing-up” years. I’ll bet you could write a whole book about it, and make it interesting.
I think we all had experiences similar to the bank thing. I know I did, but I don’t remember crying. Fact is, as I sit here typing, I don’t remember any crying times at all. Oh, sure….I cried during those adolescent years. I just don’t remember a specific occasion. Strange memories.
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My “Growing up years” are still going on.
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