Monday, June 20, 2011

Not a "Superior Autobiographical Memory"

Maybe you watched the latest edition of "60 Minutes" in which five individuals with Superior Autobiographical Memory were interviewed. These people, including Marilu Henner of "Taxi" fame, have an incredible memory to remember the day of the week for any date in their lifetime - AND what they were doing on that day.

On May 16, 1961, what exactly were you doing? Any recall? How about where you were that morning? Or how you spent the evening? What about Commencement in '62? Do you know the day and date?

Perhaps you might recall YESTERDAY. And sometimes that's a stretch, so we limit ourselves to some generic memories in this blog, like these that Richard Holstad passes along from the summers he spent on the Forland farm with his friend Steve ('64): "(the memories) had to do with such things as a mouse running up one pant leg and down the other ….. riding their horse “King” …. baling hay and storing it in the barn …. electrocuting a mouse (for running up my pant leg) using the hand crank generator from an old telephone ….. climbing the windmill …. Eating watermelon until we wanted to float away …. Catching fire flies -- Ice skating in the winter time … learning to drive the Willys Jeep out in the pasture …. Mowing the lawn ….. Steve had a go-cart that we loved to run full-throttle on the gravel road and then turn 90 degrees abruptly at the corner …. On and on."

But he can't tell us the exact day that any of these things occurred. No matter. He also reminds us through his personal autobiographical memory of the local phone company operation, that calling someone meant turning the crank or picking up the phone to hear the operator say, "Number, please." And if you needed to call someone in Clear Lake, or Kensett for the Northwood folks, you had to say, "Long Distance, please," and you would say the name of the residence or business you wanted to reach. (Check the "Links to Our Town" page for a few slideshow memories of the phone book that was used.)

Phones, of course, all had wires attached both from the phone itself and from your home to the phone company, so if a bad storm came through and the lines went down, your service literally went down as well. In the attached photo from the collection he has acquired from the Forlands, Richard is on the phone with LaVonne and Steve looking on, along with an exchange student on the left, whose name will be entered here when one of the Forlands pass it along. Our question, of course, to tie this story all together is: what date was this photo taken? Let's see how close they can get. School year doesn't count.

Post-Note: you know that we have aged when the spell-check does not recognize the word "Willys."

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