Pointless Recall

June 9, 2011 | My Jottings

My friend Carey and I were chatting recently about the pummeling a menopausal woman’s memory takes. My other friend Sue calls these frustrating mid-life memory lapses “Senior Moments.”  I live by the written word now that I’m old approaching my autumn years…by God’s written Word, by the written words on my calendar, and by the words on my Day Planner. Because if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done.

My mother used to tell me I had a photographic memory, and I’m finding lately that her words are absolutely true: I can look at an old photo and recall things about the people, time and location that are a little freaky. But if you ask me if I made a deposit yesterday or when Michael’s next Physical Therapy appointment is, I may not be able to tell you unless I look at my notes.

As we move at a snail’s pace toward listing our house for sale, I’m going through things when I have extra time. I found this old class picture in a bin of photos. It’s from my sixth grade class at Workman Avenue Elementary School in Southern California. Miss Nancy Curry was our teacher and I just loved her. She was encouraging and strict and had a good sense of humor and pronounced the South American country VEN-zoo-AY-la instead of VEN-ez-WAY-la. Isn’t it fascinating the details that our memories bring back to us to savor?

Below is the photo (click to enlarge), and the names of my classmates and what I could remember about them:

Back row from left:

Mark Sartain (quiet and tall but could be goofy), Anthony LoPiccolo (tall and side kick of Kevin O, my first crush), Bill Butler (great athlete even in primary grades), Sheryl Reagan (taller than I, flustered, kind), Bernice Something (was there for one year – moved frequently, had a southern drawl), Moi (this was the only year I wasn’t the tallest girl in the class), Denise Bailes (never stood for the pledge of allegiance because she was a Jehovah’s Witness), David Uphill (smart and a bit nerdy).

Second row from top, from left:

Irwin Fast (Jewish, attended Hebrew school, asked lots of girls to go steady), Armando Galindo, (nice, made a diorama of a volcano with cotton for the puff of smoke) Barbara Benuska (reed-thin, had adult like cursive handwriting I coveted), Can’t Remember, Suzanne Dunnicliff (a friendly girl who lived one street over from me), Gary White (class clown with a unique and contagious quack-like laugh), Laurie Keene (gracious and poised for her age, swift runner), Elaine Rampley (outspoken, friendly and practical).

Third row from top, from left:

Robert Eskew (quiet, nice and had a slight lisp), Jimmy Lange (sanguine and often smiling), Leslie Cortellessa (had incredible handwriting and was one of the faster runners), Kristi Hathaway (was a good friend, we went to Sunday School together, bowled together, and she was an amazing swimmer), Lisa Something, Jeannie Wren (had a pool, was giggly and friendly), Scott Molina (wiry and small, he died in a car accident a few years later).

Front row, from left:

Doug Kerner (the shortest boy in the class, friendly and made people laugh), Glenn Mills (one of the bad boys), Carl Rowe (had a pool, was athletic and always smiling), Laura Kopaz (shy and very kind), Ricky Bowe (sophisticated for his age, the subject of many girls’ attentions), Peggy Donohue (shy and very sweet), Can’t Remember, Miss Nancy Curry (one of my favorite teachers at Workman Elementary).

I wonder where some of these people are now. Maybe Google will lead them here and they’ll be able to say hello.

It’s strange how the memory lets the current whereabouts of important documents and the dates of important anniversaries fall through the holes in the mind’s sieve, but never lets go of details like Barbara Benuska’s uniform handwriting, Gary White’s laugh, and the way Miss Curry said Venezuela.

Do you remember odd (and seemingly pointless) details too?

If you do, will you share a few here?

One person will be randomly chosen from those who leave comments, and will receive a brand new Radio Theatre production of The Hiding Place, a magnificently dramatized version of one of my favorite books. To hear a very short audio clip, click here.

Comments will be taken until Tuesday morning (June 14th) at 10:00 a.m., and the winner will be announced later that day! If you’ve won something here before, that’s okay…go ahead and try again!

Happy, quirky memories to you…


  1. Carey says:

    Okay…here’s what I’m going to do.

    I’m going to dig out an old class picture from my days @ Lester Park Elementary (only God knows where I’ve put them) and I’m going to try and remember something…anything about each person in the photo.

    I’ll post it on my blog in a couple of days and then you’ll read my post and know (for sure) how AMAZING your memory really is!

    Just wait and see. You’re gonna be shocked at the comparison! BTW…I can’t even remember the names of most of my elementary teachers…let alone the students. Sad but true!

  2. Just Julie says:

    Yes! I’ve always wanted to see pictures of you when you were young! I’m marking this down on my Day Planner – to watch for your post. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget. 🙂

  3. Ganeida says:

    Well, I know what you mean about the great brain drain ~ but I’m lucky to remember anything at all about my school let alone the people in it. Mostly because I read under my desk through most of it. I read Exodus, the book, not the bible version, for the first time in grade 10 along wit a Susan Cooper thing that I hated & several Billabong books. I do remember we had the most horrible man teaching science that year ~ an arab who thought it beneath him to teach girls science & hated us all passionately & indiscriminately but it was the grade 9ers he locked in their classroom. They got their revenge by climbing out the 3rd story window & walking along the ledge to the next classroom before escaping. Yeah. A really good thing no parents got wind of that one! Oh, & that was the grade that nearly burnt down the neighbour’s shed. They were growing pot in amongst his tomatoes & when they harvested used his shed for a smoke session. Someone noticed the billows of smoke emanating from the shed & called the fire brigade. Busted! This was a very small, very elite private girls’ school ~ & people wonder why I’m jaded about education in general. I should stop I think. The memories are getting weirder & unsharable in a public space. I think we had some right cuckoos at that place!

  4. Just Julie says:

    Ganeida, even the comments you leave on blogs are so interesting. What “adventures” you’ve witnessed in your lifetime….all the while reading your thousand books. 🙂 God bless you and yours….

  5. Jessica says:

    Well, you can blame things on menopause. I cannot. But I am in the same boat. It’s frightening. Even my own mother says, “You are too young for this!” I call it a “labor room lobotomy” (maybe I’ve already told you this). When I had a baby, I lost half my brain, and since I’ve had two children, there is nothing left. Other times I casually refer to “the stroke” because that is frightening similar too.

    But I do remember all kinds of useless things. Like yesterday when my mom said something about Flag Day coming up (tomorrow) and I told her that June 14th is also the birthday of my high school band director. ?????? Now, there are FAR more useful things that could be occupying that space in my brain. Actually, I remember a lot of things that have to do with numbers. The phone number of the house where I lived ’til I was ten? 612-926-8169. Wonder who has that number now?

    I used to hope that this situation would improve but I’ve come to accept reality and now I just find kindred spirits to laugh with about it. In fact, my best friend is afflicted with the same problem (and she’s younger than me) and so the ringtone that I have on my phone for her sings, “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell….”

    Unwell. It’s my new normal. =)

  6. Just Julie says:

    I remember number stuff too, Jessica. I remember most phone numbers I’ve ever had, plus most of my friends’! They think I’m crazy when I say, “Remember your phone number in West Covina used to be 213-332-7226?” It’s nice to know someone else understands. I agree with your mom, though….you are too young for memory lapses! Thank you for reading….

  7. Sharon says:

    I remember my grandmother’s phone number. Sometimes I still accidentally start to dial 525-7586, even though she died 19 years ago.

    I remember every car we’ve ever had. Most were station wagons; only one was embarrassing.

    I remember the names of nearly every child in our church growing up — I either babysat for them or took care of them in the nursery.

    And I remember that you have a freakishly good memory.

  8. Just Julie says:

    Which car was embarrassing? Your memory is amazing too. 🙂

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.