MY EARLIEST MEMORY
My earliest memory is when I was eighteen months old.
My parents and I lived in Oklahoma City where I was born months earlier. Every Sunday my parents visited my great -grandfather Roy Baird’s farm. It was situated between Bethany and Lake Overholser, west of the city. My grandfather Baird had a lush garden of vegetables and fruits from his orchards. When it wasn’t winter, something always needed harvesting and the children and their husbands and grandchildren provided ready labor, in exchange for the produce to take home for the next weeks’ menus.
We also had a wonderful Sunday dinner with succulent roast beef and gravy, served on grandmother’s imported china. In the late afternoons, we would gather around grandfather Baird’s console radio and phonograph player in his living room and listen to classical music that he insisted was for “our good”. The Bell Telephone Hour had classical and Broadway music and the specialty of The Texaco Hour was opera. I developed an appreciation for this kind of music early because of this experience.
One Sunday, my mother put me down for a nap on a bed in one of grandfather Baird’s bedrooms. My cousin Helen was placed on the bed, next to me. She was several months younger. As the story goes, the adults heard this cry of anguish come out of the bedroom and ran in to see what was going on. I was the guilty party because my cousin Helen raised her arms crying, showing the teeth marks up and down her arms. My mother was mortified, embarrassed, and furious at me. Since this was years before the child psychologist Dr. Spock published his famous book , she used her primitive instincts and decided to pick up my arm and bite “the hell” out of it to teach me a lesson. I do remember the other adults in the room saying, “That should teach her a lesson she won’t forget.” And I never did forget it.