The day I was born, Harry S. Truman was President, though Eisenhower was poised to take over the nation’s reins a few weeks later. The #1 hit song was I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and the Los Angeles Rams lost the NFL National Conference Championship to the Detroit Lions. Gasoline averaged $.28/gallon.
The day before I was born, my mother was Christmas shopping.
As she told it, she started having labor pains while finishing up her holiday shopping. After all, it was the last weekend before Christmas. Did she tell my father when she went into labor? No. Not. My. Mother. Worried the shopping wouldn’t get done if she left it up to my father (which was a valid concern), she continued on, grabbing a display table every now and then when a contraction hit. The determined and head-strong woman made it home, wrapped and tagged all the gifts and, knowing her, finished her baking, before finally telling Dad it might be time to head for the hospital. I was born late the next morning.
Like every other human on the planet, I have memories of specific milestones in my life. Events not told to me by my parents. I recall walking to the bus stop on my first day of school, holding tight to my lunchbox while my brother held my other hand. I remember my father teaching me to ride a bike. (The man didn’t believe in training wheels. He put me on a hill and when I started pedaling, he let go. Trust me on this. I still have 35mm movies of it.) There was my first bra. My first kiss. My first novel.
I learned to type my freshman year at Whittier High School. I was fourteen. If you do the math, that’s 44 years of typing and my fingers are still going strong. It was in a class filled with the clatter of manual keys smashing against hard platens. When we got to the end of each line, bells would ring. The clatter would stop, replaced by the loud rasping sound of teenage hands yanking the heavy carriage back to the beginning with the help of a slender but sturdy metal arm. The clatter would begin again. And again. And again. There were no delete or undo buttons. No copy and paste features. And definitely no spell check. Not even correction tape. Errors were forever and we were graded on speed and accuracy. And don't get me started on changing the messy &$#@# ribbons.
Nostalgia is fun and gasoline returning to $.28 a gallon sounds grand, but I wouldn’t want to type my novels on an old Royal or Remington. And I’m sure glad I wasn’t born in the middle of a department store (Thanks, Mom!).
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook