Make a list of 5 important events or moments from the time frame you have chosen.
Kindergarten: I was sent to the corner for talking. I was sent to sit on the floor next to the teacher’s desk because I was talking.
First Grade: I got in trouble for talking but only because I responded to a boy talking to me about my cat-eye-marble hair-ties. Once during snack time, I was looking at something going on in the back of the room. When I turned back around, the boy next to me had left a cheese doodle for me on my desk. I hardly ever got to eat cheese doodles. I ate it so slowly he said, “You don’t have to eat it so slowly – I’ll give you another one”. I kept looking at the back of the room hoping to see another cheese doodle when I turned around. But he forgot. Mrs. Pine horrifyingly put kids over her knee in the front of the room for birthday smacks. Once Mrs. Pine screeched to my sister, as our classes were passing through the hallway, “Your SISTER’s having TROUBLE with MATH!” I didn’t understand what a sentence was and I tried to write the whole sentence instead of just the word, when I took my first spelling test.
Second Grade: The girl next to me peed at her desk because the teacher was talking to another teacher and she couldn’t wait. I told her, “Next time don’t wait for the teacher, just go”. When I got home and told my sister, she said “You would never just leave the room without asking the teacher”.
Third Grade: I was sent to the corner by the classroom door, for talking. My teacher’s friend-teacher came to talk to her. When they opened the classroom door, I just stayed behind it in the tiny space behind the open door while they talked. When they were done and started to close the door they were startled to see me there. She forgot all about me. I think I thought it was pretty funny, even then. I stopped talking in class after third grade though. Never got in trouble for talking again.
Fourth grade: The nicest teacher I ever had. I was proud that she knew and loved my sister so she was happy to have me. I gave her a Bible for Christmas. I was embarrassed, but that is the gift my parents gave me to give her. The teacher was opening everyone’s gifts and when she opened mine she exclaimed, ‘I never got a Bible before!”. What a relief. I believed that she was happy to get a Bible for Christmas from a student.
Travel back in your memory to the place, or one of the places, that you will be writing about in your memoir. Imagine that you’re back there, during the time period you’ll be writing about. Look around. Spend 10 minutes making a list of details that belong to that place, that make it different from other places.
Plumb Beach path ran alongside of the highway. The sand dunes had burrs that would get stuck to your socks. I was afraid of them because I thought they were bugs and they were pinchy. The beach was not clean so we didn’t swim in it. There were always dead horsehoe crabs along the shoreline. I was afraid of them too – they were gigantic. If they were upright they looked like giant brown beetles. underneath they looked like humongous spiders. I never saw a live one. There was a playground with a round metal table and chairs, a tall tall metal slide, which we called a sliding pond, and it was scorching hot in the summer of course. There was a strange set of monkey bars painted red, which had slanted bars in front, that I somehow knew was supposed to be a fire engine. Forty years later in my neighborhood in Long Island, I saw that type of fire truck for the first time in my life and it made me smile. Whether you walked on the path next to the highway, or along the shoreline, you soon came to the red brick round house. It was never open. We would usually race to it. You could walk all the way around it on the round shaped sidewalk around the round house.