"Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future."
~ Corrie Ten Boom
Get to know anyone over 60 or 65 and inevitably the topic of memory will arise. Goodreads has a collection of 1816 Quotes about Memory. I fret about it every time I can't recall a name or a word I know I know, forgot where I put something, or wonder why I came into a room.
So, when the following quiz arrived in an e-mail from my husband, I was intrigued and decided to take it (even if the title is a little off-putting).
Older Than Dirt Quiz
Instructions: Count all the items you remember, not the ones you were told about.
- Blackjack chewing gum
- Wax coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
- Candy cigarettes
- Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
- Coffee shops or dines with table side jukeboxes
- Home milk delivery in glass bottles
- Party lines on the telephone
- Newsreels before the movie (instead of commercials!)
- P.F. Flyers
- Butch wax
- TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and remained until TV came on again in the morning...and there were usually only 3 channels
- Howdy Doody
- 45 RPM records
- S & H Green Stamps
- Metal ice cube trays with a lever
- Mimeograph paper
- Blue flashbulbs
- Roller skate keys
- Cork popguns
- Wash tub wringers
Scoring: If you remember 0-5, you're still young. If you remember 6-10, you are getting older. If you remember 11-15, don't tell your age. And if you remember 16-25, you're "older than dirt."
Yes, I'm "older than dirt." But this list got me thinking, and I've created my own version. A list of other things I remember. I remember...
- the iceman delivering blocks of ice for my grandmother's icebox
- scrubbing clothes on a washboard so that my mother wouldn't be embarrassed when she hung the clothes out to dry
- seeing gold stars hung in the windows of families who lost a child during World War II and wondering why a gold star
- pictures of Nazi death camps that surfaced when WWII ended
- school being cancelled in the fall because of a polio epidemic
- fights being settled with fists, not guns
- bullies whose names and faces were at least known to their victims
- having my desire to go to college questioned because I was "just going to get married and have kids"
- Joe McCarthy and HUAC and the Communist Threat...and ruined reputations and careers
- the courage of Edward R. Morrow who called for the outrage to stop
- bomb shelters and bomb drills
- Selma and listening to "I Have a Dream"
- the assassinations of the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
- the Vietnam War, the protests, Kent State and the Chicago 7
- the wrenching apart of some families as they took sides over the war
- Watergate and Nixon's resignation
- Oklahoma City
I may get a bit nostalgic over memories of roller skate keys and drive-in movies and the pictures in my mind of simpler days, even feel a bit sad that life has become much more complex. But, the consequences to future generations of not knowing about P.F. Flyers or Butch Wax or Studebakers is minuscule. However, not knowing, or worse, choosing to forget or deny the effects of violent dissension, not remembering how easily fear and anger become hatred that tears asunder families and communities, how quickly rumor and innuendo can become "truth", how hard fought the victories for social justice were - these, I believe, have consequence not just for the future, but most certainly today.
So, my list is not intended as a quiz. There is no scoring to be done. Rather, I ask how much do you remember? How much have you passed on to others who don't know or may not understand why some of us who are "older than dirt" are growing more concerned with what we see taking shape in countries around the world, including our own. For what if memories really are "the key not to the past, but to the future"?