Early memories (continued)

Collected 1994-present by Paul Cooijmans

The memories (continued)

London

I was born at London, England, at 20 (street name) Road in East Ham on the eleventh of March in 1913. This was a so-called row house, two stories, four houses to a row, and there were groups of these houses all up and down both sides of the streets. I don't remember anything about the interior of this house, but when we went back and looked at it in 1979 the front yard had a familiar appearance.

I lived there for one year, then we moved to a house in Ashford. My earliest memories are in and around this particular house. The earliest thing that I can remember was that I was in diapers and was crawling along behind my brother who also was in diapers and he was leaving a wet streak which I was crawling in and I was very annoyed at him. I could walk but preferred not to at that point. I was teething and my mouth was very sore. I crawled underneath a sideboard and found an old and dusty crust that felt comforting to my teeth. My mother saw it and took it away from me, and gave me a nice fresh crust of bread with fresh butter on it, which I didn't want, and hated. I cried and she didn't understand why, but I wanted the old crust back because it made my mouth feel so much better. That was my first and earliest communications problem.

Like all English houses of that type, this one has a nice backyard and garden with trees, bushes and everything typical to that kind of home. There was one particular place where there was a ditch which was no more than 8 or 9 inches deep and 8 or 9 inches wide with water in it and, of course, some mud. My father laid down a little board which was about 8 inches wide and only a foot long, for me to cross over the ditch. Every time I tried this, I would fall off into the ditch because the ground was soft and muddy. To solve this problem, I would get down on my knees and put my feet in the ditch and swing over to the other side, getting myself muddy in the process. This annoyed my father very much so he would spank me for it. I couldn't get across to him what the problem was and why I did it that way. I was not secure on that little board. A longer and wider one would have been fine. That was my second communications problem.

Pen

My earliest memory is an event that took place in my pen. It cannot really be verified, but I know I'm standing in the pen and handed over a cookie from outside the pen. And for some reason I know it's Easter. My twin brother is lying and doing nothing but squall. In connection with your call I've been tracing the 1950 Easter date; it was April 9th. Since I was born on August 2nd '49 I must have been eight months and one week old then.

The proof - to me - that is was 1950 and not 1951 lies in the fact that my parents have had to purchase a second pen perforce to protect my brother from me. For my brother was terribly lazy and just lying there while I rolled right over him in my walking-attempts. So if I would still have been standing in the pen at Easter 1951, it would have been without my brother, who only started walking when he was already two years old.

My second memory dates from a little later, when I was about ten or eleven months old. I could walk well before my first birthday, and I still recall a cat behind me, jumping against my legs, which caused me to fall or almost fall. My mother, who could no longer bear this sight, then made the cat disappear and left my father under the delusion that the little animal had run away. Only about twenty years later, when we were reviving old memories and my cat-memory evoked disbelief again for the umpteenth time, my mother first spoke about it, thus confirming my story.

Photograph

My first childhood memory dates back to when I was roughly three months of age. This memory was really first evoked when I was six or seven years old, and looking at a photograph album for the first time. A certain picture, that showed me as an infant next to my father on an easy-chair, suddenly caused me to remember a number of impressions and sensations of that moment.

First there was a flash of awareness. I was getting a lot of attention at that moment and the sensation was quite uncommon. I remember a kind of wonder.

Next I remember somebody sitting at my left side, but I was not aware that this person was my father. I remember little or no recognition. The presence of my mother, taking the picture, I was not aware of at all. My father, sitting next to me, I remember only as a vague figure as well. The clearest recollection however was that moment of dawning consciousness and the wonder that went with it.

I have, ever since I saw that photograph, often wondered whether the described sensations are real memories, or merely supposed ones. My memories however are stronger than my own skepticism, which is why I am apt to think I really remember that moment.

Ta-ta

I have a funny memory involving an aunt. I could walk already and stood in the door opening with my mother on my hand in that aunt's kitchen, and I got a cookie or so from that aunt. I have an older brother and sister so I knew I had to say thank you. However, just before I could say anything at all the aunt said "ta-ta" (a common word for my age those days). I was thinking for a while and didn't know exactly what to say any more. Eventually I decided the aunt didn't know better and said "ta-ta" back, despite the fact I knew it had to be something else. Remarkable is I assumed the aunt didn't know better and adapted to her level; how could I know it was she who was trying to adapt to MY vocabulary.

War

My memory goes back to one month when during the second world war as a war time procedure an oxygen mask was put over my face - all families had them against possible gas attack. That would have been in the early September of 1944. Even now just to think back to this is a terrible trial since I just want to forget it. This was done again at 12 months or possibly less but in any case I recalled at the time it had happened before so by the age of one year I had a notion of the passage of time.

My second vivid memory was at age 3 months when I was placed stomach down on a cushion that seemed to me the size of a bed mattress. The family were gathered around seated about the room chatting between themselves giving me little attention. I seemed to understand what they were saying as they spoke. I recall eating first with a knife and fork at age 9 months and seeing my father for the first time sleeping on the bed at age 10 months [he spent much of the war overseas at one time loosing contact with the family completely for the best part of a year] and asking who he was. By then I was already speaking in complete sentences and had been talking since I was 5 months old.

I recall having my photo taken around 10-11 months - I know for certain I was then equipped with the full range of early childhood cognitive abilities at the very minimum. By 12 months I was playing cards with the children next door. When my parents spoke of me people called them liars to their faces until they saw me when they would be quite shocked. I was the prize for the children next door to my Grandparents great house where we lived. I recall many events from this period, perhaps too many.

By the age of 1 year I was taken to B., one the two nearest cities to K., to be tested by a woman psychologist. While I do not know the result of this very early IQ test it was reported to my parents I was well over twice the normal development level for my age, her prognosis being that I would grow up to achieve world fame. I believe this was to some extent influenced by my family background. There were (censored) and our family had many famous members. So perhaps the conclusions don't have quite their required innocence about them one would have hoped for.

Whilst not in the first year of life I recall learning what death was at 17 months. The occasion was one where the family had gone tobogganing. I was told not to stray too far away. I asked why and was given the answer by my Mother that I might fall into a snow drift and die. The effect of this panic procedure against me was nearly overwhelming - the world seemed to go black ! It too was a horrible memory. I recall trying to talk to a 2 year old girl when I was 18 months and failing and not understanding why she could not communicate with me ! I think it colored my view of women from that time onward. I recognized the difference - girls were softer !

Wedding

I remember attending a wedding of an uncle in March 1970. He was married on March 17th 1970, which is eleven days prior to my first birthday.

I clearly recall the father of the bride teasing me by descending to the floor of the dining-room with the wedding cake and pulling it away from me successively as I struggled to crawl after it in an attempt to grab it. Unfortunately, although I was only crawling then, I acquired enough momentum to succeed eventually, wrecking part of the cake's artful cream topping. Inspired by the success of my deed and the scournless reactions it evoked, I locked the cabinet, in which the wedding rings were kept, and removed the key. When the rings were needed, I admitted my "prank" willingly, but refrained from surrendering the hiding place of the key. Time was running short, and I remember enjoying the commotion I had roused. While some of the grown-ups were growing tense, the more diligent ones persuaded me to offer the key's location, which I eventually did.

The described memories are quite strong, including many details like the interiors of rooms and the appearance of people involved (the father of the bride having taken his suit's jacket off; the old brown cabinet with its two doors, etc.). The recollection of the further ceremony is shady and rather tends to fade out. I only realized how young I actually was at the time, when I had trouble believing that my uncle is now having his 25th anniversary. I even argued against the date, stating that I could still remember the event, which would be unlikely, had the date proven right. I would have guessed myself to have been decisively older at the time. I erred.

Crawl

Here are a couple of my most significant recollections. While I can remember quite a bit from my early childhood (pre 1-4 years), these memories are significant because these were as an infant.

1) One of my earliest memories was being placed on the floor at my grandmother's apartment. I was probably about 2 months old. This was the first time I was taken to my grandmother's home. I remember my parents expressing the thought that it was now OK to see if I would crawl (it was too early--I couldn't). I remember hearing my mother's voice but not being able to turn my head and see her. It sort of irritated me that I couldn't turn my head and see her.

The most important memory at this time remains very clear: I wondered how long it was going to take me to learn to use my arms and legs. I clearly remember feeling frustrated at figuring out that it would take a while (I don't think I got anywhere that day). As I reflect back, it was apparent that my consciousness was fully developed and understanding existed despite no formal concept of words or their meaning.

2) As an infant, I was often washed in a metal sink in my parent's home. I guess I was about 5-6 months. I couldn't speak but I could sit and my vision was much improved from before I could sit. My father was in a kitchen chair not far from me across a narrow room in the kitchen. My mother left the kitchen and asked my dad to watch me. My green (plastic) turtle was floating beside me (my first toy). I saw my father eating from a box of what I can now identify as Cheez Its. I wanted one. I reached my arm out to my father. He looked at me and asked me what I wanted. Of course, I couldn't answer. I reached even more for the box. I wanted a Cheeze Its. He looked a little puzzled and then said "oh, you want a Cheese It...Not until you are older." I felt anger well up in me as soon as he said that. I will never forget that moment, because it was the first time I ever felt the anger emotion. It felt strange. I remember the dark yellowness of the room. A light from above my head was the only light on in the room. When my mother came back and dried me off, she took me to the crib. I liked it when she stood me up on the kitchen counter and dried me off with a towel. As she entered the adjoining room, it became dark again and I couldn't see anything as she layed me in the crib. I fell asleep very quickly, I think because I couldn't see hardly at all in that dark room.

Pre-birth:

1) I decided that I wanted to come back to earth. I was "moved" to a dark holding area where I had no sight. I don't have any visual recollections prior to this, although I believe I had them and the memory of them I am speculate was obscured. I have only auditory memories and dark visuals at this point. I petitioned some unseen committee (I could speak to them but not see them) to allow me to take birth and give it another go. I was asked one question: what will be different this time around? I gave an answer and suggested something that I thought would be helpful [I have never revealed the actual details to anyone]. After a bit, I was asked: where would I like to go? I was shown a visual of earth. There were two possibilities--an area around India and the western hemisphere. As I looked at the planet, I knew the social gestalt of the different land areas, and I chose the western hemisphere. The "committee" left to find me a body and was silent for what seemed like a very long time. Then suddenly I saw/felt myself descending through a winding umbilicus into what I now know to be Eastern US. Shortly thereafter, I remember being born. I don't think it was pleasant. I vaguely recall someone asking if I was hypoglycemic. I don't recall any other details associated with the actual delivery: I was a 10# breech with the cord wrapped around my neck three times. I don't have any womb memories. It was as if I were dropped [from the sky] and plopped [out the womb].

Re preverbal memories: Sometime after we had written about some of our previous preverbal experiences, I mentioned mine to someone. (I always get a blank stare from others when I do this, so I don't bother much anymore.) I was so focused on the situation, that I actually slipped back into the moment...and some other memories began flooding back. (I get the feeling that there is much more there if I would just take the time to reconnect.) I now distinctly recall the daily ritual of my mother towel drying me in the sink after she would wash me--I estimate I was 8-10 months. For a long time I couldn't stand much, although she would support me. Later, she would remark that I was beginning to stand, but she still supported me. I couldn't speak meaningful words that she understood. My communication was with gestures and slobber. Yet somehow I understood things that were said, from time to time. The earliest memories are much darker, I think because my eyesight hadn't developed yet and low light situations made me virtually unable to see. At around 10 months I remember the light would shine down from overhead and I could see myself sometimes, but mostly I was engulfed in a towel that was gently but vigorously making me feel good. I remember that that feeling lasted for a while even after the toweling was over. After being dried off, I would be placed in the crib. I would routinely thump the crib with my legs when I had soiled clothes. I couldn't stand the feeling. My mother figured out quickly that I needed changed.

I remember my green plastic turtle that would float in the sink with me. The first time I picked it up was a considerable accomplishment. I also remember when my mother stopped toweling me in the sink, which I estimate was around 14 months. I also recall the dread of her saying I wouldn't be needing my plastic turtle any more.

The earliest memories I say were dark, because I had a hard time seeing, especially in low light. I do specifically remember the layout of our trailer, which we lived in until I was 1 1/2 years old. I used to walk around in an aquamarine colored jump suit with slick bottom feet after just learning to walk. Also shortly after learning to walk probably 10-11 months, I remember my first look outside of the trailer when I could just barely see over the aluminum bottom section of the screen door during the spring months when the door was opened after being closed for so long. I think it was probably April or May, because I was still fully outfitted inside (b.July). I remember my mother commenting about my looking out (which means I had to somehow understand at least part of what she was saying), the exact words I don't recall.

Gravity

I vividly remember many specific instances such as diaper changes and pacifiers, being on laps and certain emotional feeling when brought into different rooms or around different people. More specifically I remember being conscious of gravity as I was feeling it on my arms, legs and head, and that level of understanding with out words that Anonymous talks about. I guess that my earliest memories were around 2-to-4 months old partly because I remember crawling for a very long time.

Closing the cover

I remember my mother closing the cover of the baby-cart because it started to rain. This must have been at about the age of 6 months or so.

Bus

I have two earliest memories. One is when I was 15 months old as later confirmed by my father. We used to live in a city named Maraþ (in Turkey). I remember travelling by bus to another city. Then some where on our way through mountains the bus had stopped. It must have had a breakdown. Almost everybody in the bus had got out. We were high on the mountains nearby a cleft. I was standing by my father near the cleft.

Across I clearly remember seeing forested mountains (by the way, it was early July in reference to my father's statement). It was a hot and sunny day. Forests all over the mountains seemed quite spectacular to me then.I had the feeling that they looked like clusters of green clouds which fascinated me.

Second memory is supposed to be earlier than the one above since it belongs to when we were still in Maraþ before we left to Erzurum but I cannot accurately pinpoint the date. It may as well be a few weeks ago as a couple of days!

I remember standing on the side of a street, ready to cross it. My father was holding my hand. It was a sunny day again. (So I believe I must have been over 1 year old then, most probably 14-15 months.) Right in front of us across the street was an ice cream shop about which my father was talking to me. (The city of Maraþ is still famous today for her peculiarly made ice creams.)

Gypsum

I was searching all over the internet to find something on this subject. I have very early memories myself. The earliest one I believe is when I was brought from a hospital where I was born. I used to think it was some crazy dream I had at about 2-3 y.o. But since my mother confirmed some details of it I've started thinking that it is a real memory. I was almost a week old back then. I refuse to share this memory with anyone because no one would believe me. I'm not crazy.

When I was 3 months old I overcame leg straightening procedure and had to wear gypsum on my legs. And I perfectly remember lying in my cradle seeing this white gypsum. I never had to wear anything like that after.

I remember our old furniture and wallpapers which were changed before I was 3 years old. I also have some other precise memories before I was 2 years old. I remember my age precisely because a girl I was talking to in this memory reminded me of my age (which was 2 years old).

In the crib

I was in my crib in my parent room and my Dad was in the room with me and he was like a stranger to me. Another memory is I was crawling through the kitchen in aw with the floor which had different colored stars and the adults were enjoying a game of dominoes. I also remember my 1st steps but who I was walking toward is a blur. It was in the upstairs hallway, I walked from my parent room to the person whom is a blur.

Elevator

I don't know why it's taken my so long to do this but for some reason i just decided to google childhood memories and saw your name. so here i am. sorry for punctuation and sentence structure mistakes. my friends and family have always wanted me to write about all my unique experiences but i couldn't be bothered for the obvious reason that i suck at writing. I am originally from iran but was born in los angeles. i am 51 years old. my earliest childhood memory was at the age of 2 or 3 months just before leaving the US. i remember an all around open elevator, someone holding me and a couple of long blond haired girls showing me a big round lollipop. i'm guessing they knew me and my mother (i'm guessing it was my mother holding me. i'm not sure) coz they kept talking to both of us. they could've been family since my uncle moved to the states some 20 odd years earlier.

vivid memories came a month after that when my mom took me to iran. how do i know? because that's when my mom temporarily hired a chubby, cute turkish nanny. i remember how she used to dress! every detail! i also have a very specific memory of a nightmare i used to have at that age. was it a nightmare? i don't know. i do however know that no harm was done to me. every time i closed my eyes i used to see a fist coming towards my face and that used to wake me up. the next set of memories came about a couple of months after that. i remember my mother giving me soup in my grandparents bedroom. i can recall the exact room, my position, where my grandparents bed was etc.. naturally my mom claims it's impossible but i think gradually i managed to amaze her with details. i could produce any tempo at the age of 8 months. i also climbed out of my crib at that age, went over to the window sill and climbed down. i remember thinking about that and how i was going to achieve it. by the age of 9 months, i could walk and talk and recall most things. at the age of 4, my cousin and i set a small fire to my grand dad's garden, were chased by him all over the place and i ended up running out of the house and into the streets trying to find my mom's apartment which she has just bought a few weeks earlier and was located in the north of the city as opposed to my grandparents' which was somewhere close to the south of the city. i had seen this apartment only once and very briefly but that didn't stop me going through the entire capital of tehran and finding it. when i knocked on the door and my mom opened, she thought my grand dad has deposited me. you can imagine how amazed the whole family was when they discovered that i had found it all by myself.

Sitting on a rug

I was eleven months old (1946) when my mother was due to go into hospital and not expected to survive, so my 3 sisters were taken to Bernardo's (which is a child's home in England) and I was taken to a friend's house. I was eleven months old.

The following memories are as follows, those in ( ) were confirmed by my mother who survived and who refused to stay in the hospital because of what would happen to us.

My first memory was that of sitting on a rug in front of a dog with long brown shaggy hair. We were both in front of a coal fire and the dog was lying sleeping between myself and the fire with his back to me.

I distinctly remember leaning forward and reaching up and putting both hands on his back and running my fingers through his thick hair. I can feel that sensation even as I write! I could just see over his back and was captivated by the amazing colours of the fire. I was staring for many minutes I think. While looking at the fire I actually remember thinking at that time "What wonderful colours, the red and green and blue!"

How can a baby have the ability to think in words??? But I certainly did!!!

These are not my imagination, they are memories!!!

I next remember playing behind an old armchair, I was crawling behind it. I was looking up the wall and and feeling very safe as the rear of the chair and the wall were nearly touching as it towered above me.

(While there I remember there being a strange sound and some talking going on. I crawled to the end of my cave -like position, leaning forward on both hands and looked out and upwards. It was my mother. She was talking to her friend in the lounge. I was then in her arms and she was gleaming with happiness.)

This is still as clear as crystal.

I related this memory some 30 years ago to my mother. I described the actual position of the furniture and where I was, even the door where they were both standing. This was about 3 months later. She had collected my sisters from the home and eventually came for me.

She looked at me in utter amazement! I was just as I remember. I also remember while in my mother's arms standing in the street in front of a door while my mother spoke to her, but I am not sure if this was before or after this event.

I have many other memories of being in my pram, being breastfed, bottle fed and the shape of the bottle at feeding and many more involving my sisters playing with me in my pram.

In particular, while in her arms, we were standing outside on the pavement with her friend and pointing at the moon while she sang "Do you want the moon to play with." I was reaching for the moon as I thought that it was a ball, (not a disc) that I could hold.

It has been wonderful to share this with you. I can assure you that every word is true.

In a baby bed

I am in a baby bed (with bars), I look toward the ceiling and there's the thing that rotates and makes music while rotating that many parents put on baby bed. There's three objects hanging from this "toy", a white cloud, a yellow sun and a blue moon. I remember all three objects exactly, to the point I would recognize them out of many object of the same colors representing the same thing (cloud, sun, moon). My aunt enters the room and she has curly blond hair (curly in the style that was popular in the 80s). She leaves. Part of the memory is the sensation my aunt was anxious. End of memory.

I have many other very old memories, but being in the baby bed indicates to me this might be my oldest one.

Where were they during all those other years?????

I remember when I was 6 years old and speaking with a group of about 4-5 other children. We were sharing our earliest memories. The Kids had memories from 4 - the year before their current agar.

I had two thoughts 1) where were they during all those other years?????

and "I better keep my mouth shut because I am not to be believed".

I remember being an infant and waking up so hungry it was painful, and then ranking mild which tied me over, but it would leave my body so "quickly" and being that hungry was painful!!

I remember when I was 8-12 months and my mom laid me down on the Kitchen table at some relatives home (that I did not know, or like much) My mother took my diapers off == right there in front of these 'strangers' and I was mortified... just mortified. I cried in protest, and my mother turned and said that "Oh she's just tired" I cried louder and was so so upset.

When I ran a day care center I always gave the babies I was changing diapers for, their privacy... I never knew which ones would remember, but I wasn't going to embarrass any child.

I remember being several month old -- creeping and crawling age, and playing with some toys at my grandma's house, I was very involved in playing with them. When my dad comes and just swoops me up - with no advance communication because it was time to leave. I remember the shock and absence of control, no attention to "me" nor what I was doing. When working with the little ones, and especially as I raised my children, I would always talk with them and give "five minute warnings" that we would be going. I talked to them as they were people - which they were.

I have so many memories in which I was unable to talk yet, but I heard and understood so clearly.

You are the first person I have contacted who even comes close to the memories I have, from such a young young age.

I still feel "where were these others during all those years of life????", but now I know I am the odd one.

At least I am not alone anymore.

The steaming hot monster

I read that among your interests are the memories surrounding infancy. I have two particular memories which may be of benefit to you and your researches into the retainment of early memory.

Story A: At an unknown age, but before six months, I recall being particularly disturbed by being surrounded with adult company. I could scarce tell what their intentions were and felt the lobes of my brain fill with dread as a brunette woman, whose age I could not discern, picked me up by below my arms. This produced a pain which I can describe as being amazingly annoying, as the folds of the skin under my arms felt a sharp stretch. I recall also having tinnitus at this time.

Story B: At the age of eight months, I was in the care of a babysitter (or nanny), who was very neglectful of her duties. She placed me on the ground with the care one would give to a sack of potatoes and proceeded to ironing straight her various shirts, pants, and the likes. My antagonist then stripped entirely naked and proceeded to take a shower, leaving me alone on the floor. What the villain of this story forgot, however, was that she had reasoned a great place to put her still-hot iron would be on the ground, several feet from my person. Being incredibly curious from birth, I ventured to play with the steaming hot monster in front of me. I placed a firm right hand on the metal, which, burned me quite badly and caused a blood curdling scream impossibly loud for my tiny lungs to produce. At this point I could understand English, my native tongue, and the lies the babysitter told to my parents explaining why their offspring was mistreated in such a way. My parents foolishly believed her lies and I was unable to articulate to them that they had been deceived.