Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weaving Childhood Memories Into Mysteries

The earliest I can remember is during my fourth and fifth year. I know some folks can remember much earlier, but that's about it for me.

When I was four or a bit younger, my mom went with my aunt to Hawaii--on a cruise ship--as a celebration for both their graduations from college. I stayed home with my daddy. I rememer eating rattlesnake and rabbit that he shot in the backyard. Obviously we survived.

Before I could write, I was drawing scenes of my own version of the radio soap opera My Gal Sunday. (This was in the days of 15 minute soaps like Ma Perkins.) I had a little table in our breakfast nook with a big tablet and crayons.

We lived in South Pasadena in a house my grandparents owned because my dad was out of work. I played in the vacant lot with all the neighborhood kids who wre much older than me. They made tunnels in the ground and I was always the first one sent in to see if it was safe. I would have done anything those kids asked me to do.

Once they had a piano box and made an "elevator" out of it by tying a rope around it and throwing one end over a tree branch. Guess who got the first ride up and down? Yep, me.

(My mom had a brand new baby who was born a few weeks early and she didn't pay any attention to me.)

These same kids showed me a way to get into their house by crawling underneath and then through a hole in the closet floor. Once when the family was gone, I got in that way and had a great time playing with their toys. Mother finally realized I was missing and went looking. First place she went was this family's home, but of course no one was home. The grandpa lived nearby and must've had an idea what might have happened, because he let mom in and she found me. Not sure what happened after that.

There was an elderly couple two doors up the street that I often visited, never telling my mother where I was going. They always treated me with cookies and milk.

When I went to kindergarten I made friends with a girl named Sheila and I know her dad had a job with the Los Angeles Times. They had a lot more money than we did, lived in a big house and Sheila had a black nanny or maybe she was the maid. In the backyard, Sheila had a two story play house. While mom was off having her baby (in those days new moms stayed in the hospital for 10 days), my dad took me to school, but I went home and spent the afternoon at Sheila's.

One day I walked home from school with another girl and I know we had to cross the train tracks. Some bigger boys chased us and I know I was scared. Don't really remember much more except that I outran them. I have more from when I was older--no one ever cared where I went as long as I was home by 5 for dinner. For now, these are my 4-5 year old memories.

Any one of these little vignettes could be developed into a part of a mystery. Have  you got childhood memories that might make their way into a mystery one day?

Me at 5 (I was a Flower Girl at my auntie's wedding.)

   What about you, do you have some childhood memories that you might use one day?



Earl Staggs said...

You got me thinking of old childhood memories, Marilyn. It was fun, and some of them may show up in a story someday.

Susan Elizabeth said...

One night when I was about 6, my dad took my brother and I to find a new fireplace door. We went all over the county to probably about ten different hardware stores. The few details I remember are being in a half-empty hardware store and the crisp, fresh cold outside due to the first weeks of winter. The memory itself is almost eerie.

In my WIP, I have a scene in which my character has an unplacable fear of hardware stores.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I do know how to spell remember. I went back and fixed some other typos but missed that on. Oh well.

Susan Elizabeth said...

At least you caught the typos before 9AM :) Those of us who haven't had our coffee yet, didn't even notice and the later viewers won't even see.

Patricia Gligor said...

Great post!
Yes, I have many childhood memories that contribute to my mystery writing. Those memories make their way into my novels in bits and pieces. Sometimes it's a character I remember; other times a place or situation. Frequently, it's just a feeling I had that helps me to make my characters' experiences more realistic.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

When you're old sometimes it's hard to remember much of anything, but the earlier ones are easier aren't they Earl?

Hardware stores, Susan? H'mmm.

Patricia, I agree about the feelings.

And Susan, again, I can't believe how many typos I miss!

Susan Elizabeth said...

I should probably clarify that the fear of hardware stores does not make up the premise of my story, ha! But this little detail does become important to my character along the way.

I'm curious about your vignette about crawling out of the house without your parents knowing - If you incorporated this tale into a story, would it be from the child's POV or the mother's POV?

Earl Staggs said...

Funny thing about that, Marilyn. Don't ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I remember something from when I was about three. I would lie down and fall asleep in the yard outside my bedroom window. I'd wake up in my bed. I suspect my mother moved me.

It's not old age, mind you, that fogs my memory. It's allergies.

Marilyn Levinson said...

You look so cute as a flower girl.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I was about four so I didn't have to crawl out of the house, I just left. I crawled under the neighbors' house to get into the crawl space.

And, Earl, one of my sons at 3 would fall asleep on the sidewalk and one on the cross posts of a fence. When he was three I had 2 older and one younger kid and needless to say I

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I didn't finish the above sentence, I often didn't know what my kids were doing or where they were. It was a different time.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Adorable picture, Marilyn.

I was once dared as a child by my cousins to walk through a long, dark tunnel at Grifith Park in Los Angeles. If someone sinister had been hiding in there I probably wouldn't be writing this tonight.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I know exactly what tunnel you went through, Jean. Did it myself with my cousins.

Sunny Frazier said...

When I was 7 our family was stationed on Midway Island. My friend and I were exploring a WWII graveyard and got caught in a rainstorm. We crawled into the roots of a huge tree. Scary!

Love the photo! Smile is still the same.

This link was shared over at the Oak Tree Press blog http://otpblog.blogspot.com Great job, Marilyn!

Morgan Mandel said...

What a darling picture!
That way you learned to get into your friend's house would be great in a book!

Morgan Mandel

Kathleen Kaska said...

Those memories are wonderful treasures always there for our use. Great post, Marilyn.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thaks, Morgan and Kathleen.