Forgetter Be Forgotten?

My forgetters getting better,
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke

For when I’m ‘here’ I’m wondering
If I really should be ‘there’
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven’t got a prayer!

Oft times I walk into a room,
Say ‘what am I here for? ‘
I wrack my brain, but all in vain!
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say ‘Hi’ and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, ‘who the hell was that?

Yes, my forgetters getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it’s driving me plumb crazy
And that’s really not a joke.

Jim 1999
James Casey

How come what I remember of the past bears almost no resemblance to the memories of the people I knew while I was growing up? I get notes from people with whom I went to school. High school — even elementary school. I’d swear they went to different schools than I did.

They have wonderful memories of our relationships while I remember them as brats who gave me the cold shoulder. Wouldn’t even talk to me because I wasn’t one of the “cool kids.” I recall them as petty tyrants and bullies, but they swear we were the best of friends. Which is interesting since I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even invited to their parties. Or ever visited them at their homes.

Is it me? Is my memory damaged?

I grew up in the 1950s. I get a dozen emails a week extolling that decade as “the best of the good old days.” I do not remember the 1950s as a better time. Just a different one.

Racism was rampant. Sexism and ageism weren’t even part of our vocabulary. Women and old people were treated horribly and it was just fine because that was the way it was and no one was trying to fix it. They didn’t see it as broken.

It was not a simpler time either. Sure, we had less technology, but we were constantly embroiled in trying to get whatever it was we had to do the job for which it was intended. Our refrigerators were layered in ice, our ovens couldn’t maintain a constant temperature. Our televisions barely registered a signal, even if we were lucky enough to have an antenna on the roof. And people were so happy, they were building bomb shelters in their yards so when someone nuked us, they could survive. Clearly better days.


To my mind, the social issues were no less complex than now. And we were busily polluting our environment. Enthusiastically polluting our environment, I should say. We are still cleaning up the mess we made in those good old days.

Life was not easy. Assuming you had a decent job, your pay probably allowed you to live reasonably well, but a lot of people — anyone of color, for example — was lucky to get a job at all, much less one on which a family could be supported.

Nor was childhood all sunlight and roses. Abuse was common and by a kind of silent, cultural consent, never spoken of. No laws protected us. No agencies would aid us.

A few years ago, Garry went to his 50th high school reunion. He came back shaking his head, wondering what school they went to. It obviously wasn’t the same one he attended. I chose to avoid my high school reunion a couple of years back. I kept getting notes from former classmates about the great years we enjoyed at Jamaica High School.

I don’t have those memories. I remember a racially divided school with bigoted teachers, bullying classmates. Cliques of privileged kids who ostracized anyone who was different. Sad teenagers lost between childhood and a frightening, uncertain future. Hoping for help from counselors who denied the existence of the problems many of us faced at home.

Is it me? Am I the one who is broken?

Categories: Anecdote, Getting old, poem

Tags: , , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. The cartoon is great. I don’t look back fondly on the 60’s at all. There was a lot of hidden abuse and problems. My twin sister and I have totally different memories of our school days – I call it selective remembering. I always wonder what my children will think of their childhood. Will they look back like I do, on my childhood and cringe at what we went through, or will they say they had great times? That poem is great – that is me.


  2. I was in school a decade later but a lot of the things you mention were still going on, well some of them are still going on today I guess. I wonder if the people who claim that they have such great memories of high school friendship are just remembering things the way they want to because they don’t like to admit that they had ever thought or behaved differently to how they do today. Or maybe they just plain didn’t notice that they were acting like jerks.
    I kept to myself at school and I must have done a good job of it because when I went to a high school reunion only one person apart from the friend I went with remembered me at all.


    • I’m pretty sure had I gone (and it was a LOT of money, because it was in New York city and there’s no such thing as a cheap motel there) I wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to. The very few people with whom I had something like a friendship weren’t going either.

      People haven’t changed much since we were kids. Technology has changed, but it’s really the same old same old … just on Facebook rather than in the hallway where a teacher might catch the perps.


  3. I did not have too many real traumas in my 1950s upbringing, but I do remember being puzzled by much of what went on around me. And yes, at school, there was a lot of (mostly low-key) nasty behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The cartoon with the typewriter in the window speaks volumes to me. It’s a reminder og how far we’ve come and yet at the same time how much we’ve slid backward as a society. In the 65 years I’ve been on earth our society has gone from a #2 pencil to speaking to our cars, smartphones and tablet computers. We no longer think it cool to read from a paper book or communicate by actually speaking to someone. Social media dominates the scene yet we’ve simply isolated each other to our little world where we rebel against they notion that we need people in our lives. The haves and the have nots are in a war right now. That’s what’s wrong with the Ferguson’s of our world. We’re losing sight of what it means to be alive, to interact using just our senses. We’ve stopped communicating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bob, do you mean talking to people? Having meaningful conversations with thoughts and fact based opinions? Reading articles in REAL newspapers? Hand writing notes, letters and cards on real paper and mailing them? I think you’re a danger to our society. An old friend and I had lunch yesterday and shared some of these dangerous thoughts. We spoke quietly.


    • It makes me wonder how they will ever manage to marry and have kids. They can’t communicate. They have no conversational abilities. I can see them in bed, texting. My mind simply boggles. We are not losing sight of what it means to be alive. We LOST it — about a decade ago.

      Liked by 2 people

      • There’s an old joke about the first act of sex between Adam & Eve. God explained to Adam what to do and afterward Adam returned with a sad face. He asked God, “What’s a headache”?


      • Technology has changed the rite of passage for teen age guys and not so teen age guys. You no longer have to furtively seek out what “Law and Order” refers to as “stroke books”. Now, it’s on line. Where’s the loss of innocence?


  5. Hah! You HAD tv in the 1950s …


  6. My memories of days gone by is one of simpler times, but not necessarily better times.

    Oh, I like the new look.

    Liked by 2 people

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