Carry your childhood with you

Carla, Al, Julia, Eric and Kitt Katt, Sunday morning, circa 1966

Carla, Al, Julia, Eric and Kitt Katt, Sunday morning, circa 1966

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” Tom Stoppard

Here it is: photographic evidence that a lot of things about me haven’t changed in nearly half a century.  I still love cats.  I still love yellow.  I still wear my hair in a bun often (no wisecracks about librarians here).  And the camera, well, need I say more?

This photo was taken just before we left for church (that’s the only time we were all dressed up) and I’m amused to recall how my parents let me wear and use that cheap plastic camera everywhere I went.  Back in those days, not many kids were taking photos of any kind.  I just wish my old black and white negatives were not lost in the decades that followed.

I’m guessing that you, too, carry many things from childhood inside you.  For almost all of us, it’s a mixed bag, but I agree with Stoppard that if we stay in touch with all that was best about being a child, we never really grow older.

What happy traits and images do you carry with you from childhood?  I hope you will visit with your inner child often.  For some, the inner child is a pop psychology construct, useful for analysis or recovery, but otherwise disdained.  For me, though, my inner child is a muse, reminding me of all the best lessons I learned early, filled with uncontaminated wonder at a world that seems one part intrigue and two parts promise.

If the weather is good where you are, go out and play for awhile!  If it’s rainy, stay indoors and play.  In the immortal words of the Cat in the Hat, “your mother will not mind at all.” 😉

35 Comments

  1. “…my inner child is a muse, reminding me of all the best lessons I learned early, filled with uncontaminated wonder at a world that seems one part intrigue and two parts promise.”

    So true. Well said.

    • Thanks Tony!

  2. singleseatfighterpilot

    Uncontaminated wonder – to me it’s the sight of my little sister lying on the floor, with arms out stretched (about five years before this photo was taken) saying: “Daddy teach me to fly.” Our Daddy had just brought home two LP records to you. One was “Alice in Wonderland”, and the other was “Peter Pan”; and you seemed enthralled with the concept of flight – only not with the aid of an airplane :-). btw – this scene could have been no later than 1965, and the LP’s? They were heavy – before “vinyls”.

    • Actually, he gave me those records somewhere around 1961, while we lived in Hapeville and Mom was staying in the hospital with Carla. One night at your Boy Scout pack meeting (where Dad was one of the pack-masters) I asked him, as I did with wearying repetition, “Can we play the Camelot record when we get home?” (The Broadway Camelot LP was one of about 3 records our parents owned at that time.) Daddy answered with a mysterious “We’ll see” instead of his usual “yes.” When we got home he said “Julia, I was going to give these to you for your birthday, but you are going to wear out my Camelot album if you don’t have something else to play.” The Alice in Wonderland was the flip side of the same album with the Peter Pan music. I never saw either film until I had children of my own, but the songs and stories are locked into my mind, and I still have the LP! BTW, it’s interesting to remember how children think; when I used to beg Daddy “teach me to fly” (long before the Peter Pan album came along and increased my dream of flying exponentially) and he would say he couldn’t, I would say “You and Tuffy fly” and he would say “yes, but we use an airplaine” – that phrase had no real meaning to me; it seemed like just an excuse! Kids are so limited in what they can understand sometimes!

      • Sure charming memories! I still relish the music from those albums.

        • Yes, I think you might have saved the LP for me all those years, or maybe one of us got our own copy? We had a magical childhood in so many ways.

  3. Karen White

    No wonder your pictures are so beautiful! Photography is a lifelong interest obviously. I’ve been following your blog since I read about it on the Upper Room site, and two of your pictures are now the home and lock screens on my iPad. Thank you for sharing your talents here, and I’m keeping Jeff and your family in my prayers. My husband and I are both cancer survivors; so we know the fight involved.

    • Karen, what a wonderful compliment; I feel so honored that you have my photos on your screens! It is always such an encouragement to hear from those who have fought this fight and won. It’s the sort of thing that’s hard to imagine until you go through it or watch a loved one go through it. It really does change life forever, and not all of the changes are bad. Thanks so much for your prayers, and for being here!

  4. I noticed the camera right away and knew that was you. Honestly, that’s just the cutest photo. I like your cats name too 😀 Too bad the negatives are AWOL, how awesome would it be to look at life again thru your lens as a youngster. We had a rather simple childhood since my dad was a truck driver and worked long hours in the summer. We largely entertained ourselves by building forts in the neighbourhood out of whatever we could pillage or drag out of a garage. My friend Deb and I played an awful lot of board games on a blanket in the yard or tent. There was hours of Clue or Monopoly or just card games like ‘go fish’. I guess it’s those quiet sunny days at her house that I treasure most.

    • Thanks for sharing these memories, that really sound familiar. I can remember making houses of pine straw (that’s what you have a lot of instead of leaves in Georgia, at least where we lived) but we could never get them much taller than waist high before they’d fall down. I dreamed of having a tree house but building makeshift forts (or digging foxholes) was the closest I got. Sometimes we would get out a card table and a bed sheet, and put books on top to keep the sheet from blowing away, and set a box fan on one end making a “tent” indoors! I know this will make me sound super old, but I wouldn’t trade the memories of such pastimes, books or board games for all the computer or electronic games around today. BTW I think it was Colonel Mustard, in the drawing room, with a candlestick!!! 🙂 And you just landed on my hotel on Atlantic Avenue!

      • It sure doesn’t seem like that long ago even though I guess it was. I can’t imagine how much things will change in another 40 years or so and todays technology will be ‘the good ol’ days’ WOW, I’ll be 92, yipes !

        • By then they’ll have super cool laser facials that will make us look not much older than we do now 🙂 except for the wisdom in our eyes!

          • LOL…..or younger, just saying 😀

      • Ann

        I grew up in Georgia too. Do you remember chasing lightning bugs or playing ‘Mother,may I?’?

        • Yes to both! When I was a children’s librarian in California, I read them a story about fireflys (which we always called “lightning bugs”) and was stunned when their comments revealed none of them had ever seen one. I can remember trying to catch enough of them in a jar to make a night light, and being puzzled that it never worked. Thanks for the memory!

  5. Bobby Harris

    If it is raining–you could go play in the rain. That was one of my favorite things as a child, that and riding my “horse” tree limb. Imagination is too often lost as we grow up. Think a happy thought and maybe we can find some fairy dust.

    • Hey Bobby, I was always asking my Mom to get me some pixie dust (since the Peter Pan song “you can fly!” said you had to have that). For some reason she was never able to find any. I used to love, love, love playing out in the rain. Our next door neighbors had a big clam shell that was placed under their gutter spout and I would love playing in that clam shell when it was raining and water poured into it like a water fall. I also liked making mud pies and we used to use the old tins from pot pies to make what we thought looked like “delicious” pies (when my Granny was there she would always tell me they looked yummy). I never had a “horse” tree limb but would have really liked to have one. Thanks for bringing back more fun memories.

  6. Carolyn

    Good morning Julia, today is beautiful and the weather is wonderful. Cool!!!
    Jennifer and Emma made the trip and Terry had a great birthday yesterday. The rest of the family will be here tomorrow for another get together. I’m tired just thinking about it, but it will be fun. We will be abe to use the porch and it is suppose to be nice again. Take care and Jeff , I hope you are feeling better each day.. When will Grady get here. Let us know. Hugs and Love to all.

    • Carolyn, I’m so glad Terry had a happy 70th! Hope you have lots of fun and don’t get too tired. Grady is now 5 days late, which seemed like nothing compared to the nearly 3 weeks late his daddy was! Megan’s doctor told her Monday she expected the baby would come this week, but so far he’s being stubborn. We’ll keep you posted! 🙂

  7. You haven’t changed all that much, a little taller. I too owned the records for a couple of Disney films long before I saw the movies. I loved them especially Cinderella. I had a lovely childhood. I was blessed with two parents who loved me and two siblings. BTW your cat looks a lot like our Fluffy.

    • Yes, I think I remember saying that when I saw her (didn’t you have her in Germany or am I imagining that?) I always have a soft spot for calico cats. My sister has one now that’s precious and she is named Kitt Katt too. When I was a child a neighbor’s mother told me there was no such thing as a male calico cat. I never heard whether that’s true but I have never known of one. Thanks so much for a wonderful lunch out today and a tea time that stretched way later than tea normally does! Aaron was so polite and patient with all our gabbing. He is such a nice young man.

  8. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. We are camping at Willow Tree this weekend so we are certainly playing outside with friends. Although I sent a comment late last night it never appeared.
    So I’ll try again, before you send out a search party. Haha! I no longer have immediate family (Daddy,Mom,Michael and Mitchell). I rely on photographs and memories from my “joy bank” to create what has been.Childhood is to be treasured! What a precious photograph. Do you still have the little camera? Hope yall are having a good weekend. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, I’ll go hunting for your comment and put it in here if I find it. It could have been caught in the spam filter – thanks for trying again. I have no idea what became of my little plastic camera – I guess it went wherever all my negatives went (most likely the trash can as my mother is NOT a packrat the way I and some of her children are!) Jeff and I are going into DC today, to the Corcoran, at least that’s our plan. Have a wonderful time at Willow Tree, a place our inner children would love!

      • Sheila

        Julia, I hope you were able to “go to town” as we always said growing up (referring to any place larger than our little rural community). I so love Washington! I’ve enjoyed the blog and comments….so much fun to remember lightning bugs and board games! Sheila

        • We did go “downtown” and I had camera problems but hopefully some of them were good enough to post here sometime. Had a great time at the Corcoran and then strolled around Washington Harbor (in Georgetown) until we got too hot and headed back just before the rain started. I think people of our generation have the best childhoods to remember, but probably everyone feels that way. Speaking of old toys, at the Corcoran they had a display of an old 1950’s or 60’s era Civil War play set that made me gasp when I saw it – it looked SO familiar; I’m sure Eric must have had one! I took a photo to show him, to find out whether it’s my imagination. I recognized the roof of the house first, then the green tree, the tent and the soldiers. I’m glad you enjoyed the memories; there will be another dose of nostalgia in a clip I am posting along with tomorrow’s blog…only those over 50 will recognize it! 🙂

  9. Beth

    Do you still have or remember storing water in a Prell bottle? You’d written Water 1970 on the plastic bottle, and the plan was to save, test and compare to water in the distant future. I thought your plan was brilliant. 🙂

    • Believe it or not, Beth, it was actually 1968 water – I know because I called it “Nixon water!” 🙂 I have no idea what became of it…wait, let me change that. I bet I know exactly what became of it – “Sybil’s de-cluttering machine!” Alas, we now have no way of testing the quality of municipal water from that era. I really was eccentric all of my life, wasn’t I? 🙂

      • Beth

        You have a great memory! Nixon water and the year we moved to Georgia. Julia, I thought you were the most interesting person I’d ever met. I still do! 🙂

        • Wow, that’s a very nice thing to say. I think “interesting” is a kind way to describe me! 🙂 I was thinking that was about the time I met you. But I don’t think you saw the water until later, maybe when I was prowling through my junk looking for a book to give you. Surely even I wasn’t so odd that I’d tell someone I’d just met about that! Funny memories.

  10. That picture is awesome. It reminds me of cooking frozen hamburger patties cooked on the grill, swimming in the pool, and trying to get the cat named “dog” out of the house only to get bit harshly on the hand in the process.

    • Hey, I forgot about the cat named Dog – we got him after Kitt Katt was gone, but he was always mostly Al’s cat and yes, he did bite people. Hopefully he didn’t draw blood! 🙂

  11. Rene

    I remember writing plays on a little green typewriter I got for my 10th birthday, my Suzy Homemaker oven & dishwasher, Spirograph, and of course, Clue. And books, endless books (endless because you could always read the good ones over again!).

    • Rene, all those things bring back happy memories, except that I played on my Daddy’s ancient Underwood manual typewriter, which he bought used and which was so old, we used it as a prop in a school play set in the 30’s! Sometimes I tell myself “If I’d had my own typewriter, I coulda been a contender” but I know that’s not really true; I’m no Brando! I never had a Suzy Homemaker but my next door neighbor did, and I loved it. And my Spirograph and (too few) books, and my sister’s Clue game were all favorites! BTW, it was definitely Colonel Mustard, in the Drawing Room, with the Candlestick!

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