My earliest memory

Click below to listen to this post in French click below″
I came across this idea while visiting BBC4 website, the Memory Experience, a Journey of Self-Discovery
I started writing and this is what I came up with, slightly modified.

Me in 1947

I must have been around three. Maybe less. It’s a hot summer day. Everything is bathing in a lovely yellow light. I think we are in Normandy, in our summer house, which was then the place where we lived. The setting is some sort of family reunion. I have been given a small toy suitcase full of sweets. I am ecstatic. I can still see the suitcase with all its details. The suitcase is light brown on the outside and the inside has little flowers. The inside feels like paper and the outside like leather, or at least with the same sort of texture as leather, although it probably was not. For some reason, I cannot see the sweets themselves. And although I can hear the humming of people’s voices in the room, I can’t see them. I am all alone with my suitcase.

This is pretty puzzling to me because I always think of myself as someone who relies more on audition than vision. It turns out in this very early memory, that I remember quite a lot of visual and tactile details when the auditive details are completely blurred.
I am almost disappointed not remembering what those sweets tasted like. But I can feel the paper that wrapped them.

  1. The photo dates from 1947 but has nothing to do with this early memory. Unfortunately, my toy suitcase has not survived moving from Deauville to Paris, and then from my parents’ flat to mine.
  2. The French recording is not too good, but my laptop insists on being noisy this evening.

6 thoughts on “My earliest memory

  1. I find your recall of your earliest memory about age 3 interesting, especially that it is visual, though you say you are typically a more auditory person.

    My earliest memory is at about the same age as yours. While my memory does include visual images (nothing auditory,) the primary sense I recall has always been smell. I, also, believe I heard or read some time ago that smell is the earliest sense we develop, usually. Probably should have researched that, as wherever I heard, or read it, I just accepted the source as credible.

  2. Strangely enough your topic of childhood memories make me think of your “Secret Garden” post. My childhood memories are my “Secret Garden” in a sense. There are a few thorns but mostly a place that I can go and enjoy some peace of mind, if only momentarily. It is amazing how much detail we can remember about certain experiences. And I agree that those return visits are completely visual.

    By the way, enjoyed reading your “A Sense of Place” post so thanks for inserting the link. I suppose I had the complete opposite experience. My career did not allow me to live in any one location for more than six or seven years. Never even had the opportunity to own a place until about twelve years ago or so. And after the death of my mother in 1997 I chose to move back into her home which is the home I had left at the age of nineteen. I guess that is one of those “full-circle” experiences huh?

  3. Hi Claude: Don’t be envious about Gregory. I’m sure you’ve lived a much more exciting life than I have…that was my apex.
    I loved your blog today. I, too, had heard (like Joared) that smell is the primary sense and I have a wonderful memory concerning smell…I think that will be my blog for tomorrow.
    All the best. Ginnie

  4. Hi Claude – I just love this picture of you at the beach! A few years ago BBC or Masterpiece Theater did something called “Shooting The Past” about an archive of old photos in danger of being sold or destroyed. If you have a chance to see this I guarantee you will never look at an old photo in the same way. I know you would enjoy the story.

  5. claude, once again, your photos from the past are a treat. some of us,
    absent our own, save those of others that SAZ describes in her comment.
    and your images always have such rich memories attached.

  6. Hi Claude…Really enjoyed this post. And what a great photo.
    My first memory, around age 3, is also very visual. I almost
    drowned in a lake and I still vividly see it. (And yes,
    as much as I love water…I have a fear of it)
    I’m wondering if our first memories are visual rather
    than auditory because the mind is like a camera…snapping
    snippets of time, which might imbed it more strongly in our
    mind than audio would.
    I do know though, that our sense of hearing is the very last to go.

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