Earliest Childhood Memories


I took this photography from my back yard through a small tree with the moon illuminating some clouds in the background. This was taken with a Mamiya DTL1000 camera and Kodak Gold film (prior to the change to Royal Gold). No real relationship to the topic at hand.

I was thinking today about my earliest childhood memories. I am unusual in that I remember things from very early on.

My earliest memory was when I was three days old. I was adopted and my adoptive mother brought me home. She had a spider monkey in a cage down in the laundry room that she got rid of, at the advice of the family doctor, but it was there for a day or two after I was adopted.

My mother brought me down into the laundry room. That monkey in the cage defecated. I remember it was runny and I was repulsed by it. This seems a strange reaction for a baby that messes his own diapers to have. I guess I was a three day old hypocrite.

It has been suggested that the reason I remembered this was because of the trauma associated with being separated from my birth mother after three days. Being born three days earlier would have been more traumatic, however, I have no memory of birth.

My next earliest memory is of being in the living room with my mother. I not able to walk or talk. I was able to pull myself into an upright position using the couch. I was not tall enough to climb on to it. I could climb up on the part that supported the cushions and get in between the cushions and that part. My mother would always put me back down on the floor when I did.

Being put back down on the floor, after making so much effort, was frustrating. I was not able to speak my frustration. I could understand at least some things people said. This seems to be the opposite of how I’ve learned languages as an adult where it has been easier to learn to speak than to comprehend.

The worlds fair was in Seattle in 1962. I was not quite four years old. I was born November 4th, 1958. We went to the fair and there was still a lot of construction in progress . The construction seemed ominous and threatening.

The part of the fair I remember the most was the Science Center. Today it’s just a ghost of what it used to be. At that time the entire building complex was used for science related displays which included a planetarium. The planetarium has been converted into a laser light show.

There was a large room with a red circular moving carpeted walk way. There were rear projection screens in the wall to the left. Each was about the size of a 19 inch computer monitor. I had seen normal front screen projection. My parents owned an 8 mm camera and an 8 mm projector. They would project family films on a screen in the living room. I had never seen a rear projection setup. It was pure magic, lighted glowing changing pictures in the wall! The granularity of the glass the image was projected on fascinated me. It was similar to the interference pattern effect you get with a laser hologram.

To the right they had a steam rocket. It was a rocket like something you would see in a bad 60′s sci-fi movie that was on a guiding pole. About once a minute it would launch on a jet of steam. It would slide back down the pole and repeat the stunt a minute or so later.

Those are some of my earliest memories. Use the comments feature to tell me about yours.

3 Comments

  1. Those are very interesting. I wonder how those really early experiences shaped your personality, especially the part about being put back on the floor after expending lots of effort. I wonder if that led to the belief that hard work doesn’t really get you anywhere. That’s what an analyst would say anyway. I think people are shaped by more than just their very earliest experiences. All of the experiences we have throughout life shape us.

    I’ll write about some early memories in my blog sometime soon. That’s a really good idea. We all have them, and don’t often talk about them!

  2. Nanook says:

    From what I’ve read most of us actually don’t have them before two or three. Mine go back to four days old.

    I once asked a shrink why I would remember that and he hypothesized that it was because of being adopted and the trauma of being taken away from my birth mother.

    But I would think the birth experience itself would be even more traumatic and that was only four days earlier, couldn’t have been that much difference in brain development in four days.

  3. Bramas says:

    I’m glad to see that it is possible to remember earlier than three years old. I too have some very early memories, which I don’t think anybody believes. I remember trying to imitate the sounds made by my mother and grandmother who were speaking to each other, that was before I could speak. I was sitting on the floor under the dining table, tickling my ears with my blanket. I remember lying in my crib on my stomach with my bum in the air and feeling like I could fly after my grandmother had rubbed me with Vicks. And one even I find hard to believe. I remember being in a room, seeing dark shadows of people and light coming from what must have been windows, sounds of exclamation, and being handed to someone standing in the room. I remember loud crying and suddenly realizing that this was a sound coming from me. I have often wondered whether that was the day I was born, but could not be sure.

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