Remembering the Numbers of my Life in Living Color
"Nanny, Trouble and the Kaiser," ca 1950. My grandmother, "Nanny" as I called her, a black cat named Trouble, and the family's 1948 Kaiser sedan.
1905—My grandmother at the age of ten, with her much older step brother and sister.
With her daughter Hoohoo, 1947, with Hoohoo's brand new husband's brand new Harley Davidson.
ca 1920, at the Indian Point House Hotel, Stony Creek, Connecticut.
1924, Hammonassett Beach, not more than a mile from where I live today.
Early 1940s. Dig the short fur cape and the period wallpaper! Garden Club or lunch with the ladies, I'm sure.
1918-1919, a fun day with friends.
1918-19, the same day as the photo above this one. This is her very own 1915 Model T Runabout. I've posted this photo before and mentioned that I still have the windshield, steering wheel, a cowl lamp and several headlamp lenses.
R E M E M B RA N C E O F S O R T S — Forty-one years ago today, December 19th, 1969, the only grandmother I ever knew died. Now don't worry, this isn't going to be some maudlin, sad, down-at-the-heels post. I was twelve years old, she was a great lady, and in some ways, thus began the downfall of my family, but this post is really about dates and numbers and an odd feature of my brain. And an excuse to post some cool old photos!
I have a bad memory of sorts, I always have. Well, for one thing, I suffered some extreme emotional trauma at the ages of 5-6, which resulted in my repressing memories of that period until I was 46 years old, but I'll save that sorry chapter for my book. No, I'm talking about my short term memories of everyday, ordinary things—what I ate for breakfast, what clothes I'm wearing right now if you make me close my eyes, the title of the book I worked 40 hours on last week. Sometimes, if put on the spot, I forget the names of people I've known for years. I might forget who I've just dialed on the phone until they answer! As a child, my parents sometimes thought I was kidding around with them because they knew I wasn't "slow" lol, but my memories of the mundane have always been very will-o-the-wisp.
Dates and numbers on the other hand, are etched in my brain like on the proverbial stone. I remember the dates of every family member's birth and death, year and day. I remember my elementary school friends' phone numbers. I remember casual acquaintances birthdays from college, 35 years ago. I remember my college mailbox number, my college ID number, every street address I've ever lived at, my driver's license number, and not only my social security number, but my mother's and father's SS numbers. The secret? No, I'm not Rain Man and it's not mathematical, that's for sure. I remember numbers and dates in shapes and colors and it's seemingly neurological in nature.
I have a mild case of synesthesia, the mixing of senses. In its most common form, people see letters and numbers in their minds as colors. They may also see them in their mind's eye in 3D, and I have both of those conditions to a degree. I also mix up sight and sound, I remember seeing yellow songs coming out of the radio, the incessant red barking of our German Shepherd. Mostly though, my long-term memories are overcast in shades of colors, like my grandmother is almost always a pale gold, my father is in many bright colors, my mother is a lavender and my "bad" memories are brown. Whenever I think about a date in time, or a phone number, the numerals float in my head in colors and three dimensional fonts, and they scroll going backwards, further from the "front"of my head, almost like the script at the beginning of the first Star Wars movie. Is it it any wonder I ended up loving typography?
Sure, it would be nice to not get lost in a conversation sometimes, or look like a fool when an editor at the publisher asks me which book I produced for them last week and I have NO idea, but on the other hand, I'm pretty sure this is where my art comes from. I don't know for certain if my bad lifelong, short-term memory comes from the incorrect "wiring" in my brain. My need to put down the memories I DO have in living color, every single living color at times, just might be an outgrowth of this condition. Growing up I always "blamed" my mother's old eggs for my brain, she was 40 when she had me in 1957. Or it could have been her doctor in Germany that told her to drink a daily glass of white wine from the Mosel River for morning sickness when she was carrying me, rofl, but I now see my mixed up senses as a blessing rather than a curse.
I'm a bit different. So what? I'm pretty used to it by now!