Nostalgia Trip

Yesterday my mom and I took a trip to Marietta and Smyrna, the area where she grew up and where I spent my first few years. Since we moved to Covington when I was four or five, my memories of living there are fairly vague, yet I have memories of going back to visit and seeing places around the area. It was astounding just how much everything changes.

We started out going by the apartment complex where we lived when I was a toddler. It didn’t look

My Great-Grandmother's old house

nearly like what’s in my  memory. The buildings looked similar, but there were far more trees than I ever remembered, and my mom said they built some new buildings where the old parking lots were. I wish we’d taken pictures there.

Next we visited my great grandmother’s old house in Smyrna. It used to be a tiny house, and I have years and years of fond memories there. We were in for a shock when we saw how much the new owners have changed the house and added on to it. It looks like they may have nearly doubled the square footage! It was a beautiful house, but it just wasn’t the same house that we loved so much. We joked that they messed the house up.

The first house I lived in as a baby

After that we visited the first house my parents owned, where we lived when I was a baby. Obviously I have no memory of the house, and even the pictures I’ve seen of it didn’t quite look the same. It was fun to see the first house where I lived.

Finally, we drove by the house where my mom grew up. She has shared the memories of that house and the years they spent there for as long as I can remember, so it was nice to get to see the place she has talked about for so long. It was almost exactly what I imagined.

It was nice to get to see all these old places,

The house where my mom grew up

and I’m glad we took the time to go. Even though things have changed (and we shouldn’t be surprised at that), there’s something comforting about seeing familiar areas. I’d love the chance to do something like that again.

 

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Memory Triggers

It’s odd how certain conditions or circumstances can trigger memories. This morning before I went to work, I had the door open to take advantage of the beautiful weather. The cool breeze blew in, and I could hear the birds and breeze outside. At one point, I took clothes out of the dryer. The warm clothes combined with the coolness of the fresh outside air and the sounds of nature conjured up memories of being at Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. That’s not the first time, either. Growing up, we used to refer to cool spring or summer mornings as “Disney World mornings.”

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever have specific circumstances that trigger memories?

Challenger

Twenty-five years ago today, on January 28, 1986 at 11:39 a.m., the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded about a minute after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts aboard. It was a tragic, heartbreaking day, and I remember it well.

It was a Tuesday afternoon, and we were home from school for a snow day. I remember that they this shuttle mission was historic, as it featured the first non-professional, completely civilian astronaut, “Teacher In Space” Christa McAuliffe. The launch had been delayed for several days due to weather issues at Cape Canaveral and at abort landing sites. The launch date was set for the 28th, in spite of temperatures being at literally the coldest possible point for a launch day.

We were at home watching The Price Is Right, when CBS News interrupted the show to report that “something went wrong” with the Space Shuttle. From that point, all three stations (we didn’t have cable) stuck with live coverage of what was going on. My mom popped a tape into our (Beta) VCR and began recording. I remember the VCR timer being set and on record throughout the next several days, recording speeches, memorials, and other coverage. Even through the tragedy, it was spellbinding to think of watching history unfold through the day. Continue reading Challenger

Steel Pigs Over Atlanta: A Christmas Memory

Riding the Pink Pig at Rich’s Downtown was a holiday tradition in my family for many years. Every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d drive all the way into downtown Atlanta to visit the amazing Rich’s Downtown store. I remember being so excited!

For those who don’t know, the Pink Pig was a monorail of sorts that was erected at Christmas time at the Rich’s Department Store in downtown Atlanta from 1948 to 1991. It started out in the toy department and rode out on the roof of the store through a Christmas village and alongside the Rich’s Great Tree, with a view of the buildings of Atlanta all around it. (Yes, the Pink Pig exists today…sort of…at Lenox Square, but I’ll get to that in a minute…)

There aren’t too many specific memories of our trips; I think all these remembrances blend together into one tableau of images: driving into Atlanta; marvelling at the beautiful Rich’s Great Tree atop the Crystal Bridge; the huge department store unlike anything I’d seen anywhere else; the elevator with the color-code for each floor; the bustling cafeteria; the thumbprint cookies with sweet, creamy icing; the reindeer in the petting zoo; Santa’s Secret Shop (where parents weren’t allowed!); the Pink Pig itself, with its awe-inspiring view of the Great Tree and the “big city” around it; the sticker, which was the coveted free souvenir, with its red ink on a pink fabric circle, that read I Rode The Pink Pig At Rich’s. (The funny thing is that I never remember going to see Santa there; I may have, but I just don’t have any recollection…)

The Pink Pig returned in a much lesser form in 2004 at Lenox Square Mall, inside a tent, as a small train ride with cheesy narration done in a fake Southern accent. (There was no audio at the real Pink Pig, except for children’s chatter…) I’ve been to it two or three times, most recently last week with Ashley, Kenzie, and Hadley. It really hit me this last time riding it how it’s nowhere near the amazing experience we had as children. First of all, it’s at a mere mall…in Buckhead. Secondly, the tree was scrawny and sad looking…no majesty here. Last of all, there was nothing to inspire the imagination…no ride over downtown, no view of a growing, bustling city. It made me wish I had a time machine to take the girls back to the days of a truly magical Christmas experience.

Thanks for allowing me to share a Christmas memory, albeit in a cranky, “things ain’t what they used to be” kind of way… May your Christmas this year be full of memories that you’ll want to share.