Friday, February 8, 2013

fuzzy flashback

*This picture has nothing to do with the memory or event I'm about to share. But it's around the same era. That's me. And those clowns are my neighbors.

I remember, as a kid, being woken up in the middle of the night by my mother. It was pitch black. And I can't recall what she said exactly, but I do remember that she had some fear in her voice. I was sleeping on the floor in my sister's room & we were to get out of bed immediately, get some shoes on, & follow the family outside. Because I could tell my mom was trying her hardest to keep a calm voice, it made me even more afraid. I was scared & felt panic all over. I scrambled in the darkness for some shoes. I remember taking off my little pajama shirt, & as we walked out the front door, I was floundering to put a t-shirt over my head. I could see police & firetrucks & it seemed like there were a lot of people in our yard. There was even a television camera crew, which was looking right at me, putting my shirt over my head, & the only thought I had was, "Oh my gosh! They just filmed my naked chest!" I was 9 years old. So my chest was pretty much a flat board. Maybe even concave. How scandalous. 
Apparently lightning had hit an electric pole & we were supposed to get out in case something blew up. The policemen & firemen had come to rescue us! I had never been rescued before.
We drove to a hotel & that's all I remember.
Oh, except the next day at school one of my friends said, "I saw you in the newspaper." And the only thing I pictured was me with my naked chest on the front page.

During one of my recent weekly phone calls with my mother, I relayed this story to her.
She corrected me on a few points. (And, in fact, my memory of the event had been slightly misconstrued.) She shared with me a bit more detail, although not as exciting as my recollections...

My mother did, indeed, wake me up in the pitch blackness of night. The police had come pounding on our door, evacuating the whole street. There was a gas leak in the pipeline, right across from our house. There was no lightning involved. Nor an electric pole. But the power company turned off all the electricity, which is why it was so dark.

Our little family of 5 seemed to take a while to get our things together & get out. So the police came & knocked a second time. We were all in our pajamas & headed out of the house. Outside there were police cars with their blue & red lights twirling & flashing. There were firetrucks too. Almost all of the policemen & firemen had flashlights, because it was so dark. They used the flashlights to help us find our way out of the house & into our car. There was no television camera crew.

My mom recalls how odd it was that she didn't even think about our Great Dane, Jackson, left all alone at home, barking & barking over all the confusion & craziness. As we drove down our street, we came to the end of the road. Though my mother didn't remember Jackson, she suddenly grabbed my father's arm & remembered something else: 
It was November, 1984. And, if you don't recall, or have no clue, why the Cabbage Patch Dolls were so important, it's because the Cabbage Patch Dolls were a hot Christmas item that year. And my mother went through hell to get those dolls for her 3 children. The dolls were currently hidden in her room, waiting for Santa to deliver them on his big day. I heard of incidents where scratching & fighting & hair pulling & mobs & riots broke out, just so a parent could get one of those dolls for their kid that holiday.

The police wouldn't let us go back home, so we had no other alternative but to drive to a hotel, which happened to be a Holiday Inn in either Kenner or Metarie, Louisiana, where I slept on the floor in the hotel room. And in the morning for breakfast, we couldn't go eat INSIDE a restaurant because we were all in our pajamas. So we went through a drive-thru & ate in the car.
Soon after, the gas leak had been fixed & we returned home. And that was all. 

Oh, my mom & I had a good laugh over this! We decided that it must have been such a traumatic experience to the 9 year old me that somehow my brain made the ordeal even bigger than it was. But all these years I've had lies in my head.
{I was CERTAIN there was a camera crew!}
It makes me wonder what other things I KNOW are true, that really aren't.
It also validated to me that the imagination of a child is a fascinating thing.

Long live the Cabbage Patch!
*fist pump*


  1. I have a cabbage patch doll in my room .. from the same time. and she still makes me feel so peaceful. I don't let my kids play with her because I think they might not be nice. :) I love the story!

  2. What a wonderful story and love all the mixed up details. Especially the film crew. We gave our daughter (now 17) a cabbage patch doll and sadly was left behind in a shopping trolley one trip. She was devastated and still reminds us to this day.


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