A few weeks ago I mentioned my journaling app, Day One, and the podcast series from the team that makes it. In the Day One app, you can create as many journals as you wish. And in one of their podcast episodes, they mentioned a user who has a random memories journal.
A random memories journal––what an interesting idea, I thought. My mind has always had random memories pop into it unannounced and without any fanfare. Or, perhaps there exists some reason for them at a deeper level. The memories might relate to what’s going on in my life at present or seem to have no connection what-so-ever.
I decided I would start a random memories journal. The first thing I noticed is that I’m surprised how often I have a random memory. And I thought I would share one of them here on my blog.
A Childhood Memory
I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Pensacola. During much of the year, as a little child especially, I could be found without a shirt, running around outside playing ferociously. I was very tanned, and my hair would bleach out to a white-blonde color.
Before I was old enough to go to school, I recall being up early one morning. I was riding my bicycle down the street in front of our house. And for the first time in my then very short life, I noticed something I had never noticed before.
As I rode my bike, I noticed that the day was perfect outside. The temperature wasn’t hot or cold. The early morning air was perfect with just a bit of a subtle nip to it as it greeted my skin. The air made me want to breathe it in deeply, and I did.
And the light from the early morning sun was also different somehow. It too was perfect. Something about the light that I couldn’t identify was different, and it was wonderful. I loved it. For whatever reasons, these observations seemed very, very profound to young me at the time.
In fact, the day was so perfect that the block on which our house was located was much too short for my ride. I went back to the house and rode my bike down the block several times to take in, to absorb this wondrously perfect day. Interestingly to me now, I didn’t think the day was as perfect going back to the house as it was going the opposite direction. The sunlight wasn’t as good. But traveling facing the rising sun… ah!
I traveled up and down the street several times drinking in the perfection. I now know what it was: Fall was in the air instead of the horrible heat and humidity of Florida. You see, this was in late October. The heat and humidity, which, as a child I never really noticed, were done for that year.
I recall that afternoon, mother had the windows open next to the dining room table. She had new curtains of which she was particularly proud. She had two rods of curtains spanning the side-by-side, double dining room windows: one across the top and another that ran the width of the windows in the middle. The house attic fan was on and the curtains were gently flowing into the kitchen. I always loved the somewhat clunky, whirring sound of the old attic fan and the moving air it created.
Yes, this was a perfect day, all day long. And I know it was just before Halloween because my mother and her best friend, Joyce Erndy, had gone through all of their sewing scraps to select the fabrics they were going to use to make rag doll clothes for the tiny dolls people could try to catch (with a fishing line and hook) at the elementary school’s rapidly approaching Fall Festival.
Every year they had their doll booth at the fair to raise money for OJ Semmes Elementary School. They were one of many booths raising funds. I loved going to the Fall Festival! Some of the booths were even scary.
Mrs. Erndy, as I always called her, may she and my mother Rest In Peace, was the best seamstress in all of Pensacola. She taught my mother to sew. (In time, my mother was making all of her and my sister’s clothes.)
Mrs. Erndy started this annual tradition when her children, who were a bit older than I, went to OJ Simpson, and she had been doing it ever since. Her booth had become such a popular thing, because the dolls’ and their outfits were so intricate, she annually enlisted my mother’s help. I don’t recall how many dolls they made; they had boxes and boxes of them.
Best Seamstress in Town–Seriously
They typically made the dolls’ clothes and assembled the dolls at our house: boxes and boxes of fabric, eyeballs, body parts, hair. My goodness it was a big ordeal, and it went on forever. Mrs. Erndy’s house was utterly consumed with dress-making projects, and she didn’t want to disrupt her creative process with all of the doll goings-on. Something about seeing them assemble all of these dolls was exciting to watch, as they chatted nonstop about everything.
Mrs. Erndy made the most spectacular wedding gowns. At some point she became so busy she didn’t make the bride’s maids’ dresses any more––just the wedding dresses. As I recall, everyone who was anyone tried to get her to make their wedding dress. She was booked out over a year in advance. She also did all of the alterations for the most expensive dress shops in town. And no one in town would do alterations on a fur or other expensive piece (leather, suede…) except for Mrs. Erndy.
I can’t tell you how much I hated going to the Erndy’s house as a child. She had huge tables with patterns and material on them. They were the largest tables on the planet to my little eyes. And I was always forbidden to touch anything.
I was typically told to go outside and play, but their yard was small and very dark because of all of the trees and bushes. Once I’m told I ate a mushroom from the yard and had to go have my stomach pumped out. Poor Cheryl, who was supposed to be watching me, got a spanking for letting me do it. When it was raining and I was forced to “sit there and don’t move,” I thought I would shrivel up and die from boredom.
All Things Come to an End
A few years later, we moved from 6th Avenue. A few years after that the Erndys also moved from 6th Avenue. They bought a nice house that had a separate building on the property that served as her shop for the remainder of her life. I liked that shop much better as it was extremely well lit. I vividly remember her sewing machines just whirring away as she chatted away.
At some point Mrs. Erndy retired. And when my father died unexpectedly, I had to purchase a suit in town for the funeral. Mrs. Erndy called and insisted that she would be doing the alterations on the suit. Both Tom and Joyce Erndy were lifelong friends of my parents.
But, as we all know, all good things come to an end. But my random memories journal now reminds me that some things persist. Some things persist an entire lifetime.
As fall begins to creep into the air, as the sunlight begins to change its angle now in late August, these perhaps not-so-random memories return, memories from about 55 years ago now. All of these years later, in my mind, I hop onto that ancient hand-me-down bicycle. I hear the sound of the old bike chain clanking against the metal chain guard as I peddle down 6th Avenue feeling the wondrous Fall air on my skin and entering my lungs. I take in the rays of the sun on my face as I close my eyes for a bit floating along on a bicycle. And for a just a moment I relive that perfect day, that simply perfect day.