Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Memories - Sweet Memories

For the A to Z Challenge my theatrical word for today is understudy, of which we have none in our little theatrical troupe. It's awfully hard to perform on stage when you are sick, and I always worry that one of our cast members will come down with something awful on opening night. So far we have been lucky and never had to cancel a performance, but there have been a few times we have struggled through.

And now, please help me welcome my Wednesday's Guest, Kerry Letheby. Kerry is the author of Mine to Avenge, an epic saga, and she is here to share some of her favorite childhood books and movies.

Returning to my favorite childhood books and movies

For some years I have been on a personal quest to find and buy the movies and books I loved as a child. I’ve recently begun wondering why it’s important to me to find them and whether they have influenced who I am.

I have found that such a quest isn’t unique, knowing two friends who are doing the same thing. One of them said something that kindled my thoughts about this. She said that her favorite books had given her comfort and security when she was sad, lonely or frightened.

I immediately recognized my own motivation in her words. Each time I add another book or movie to the collection, I reclaim part of my childhood, with things that comforted me during times that might not have been so happy.

We know that books and movies communicate to us as adults, but it’s not that easy to explain exactly how or why they do. I struggled recently to tell someone how Les Miserables communicates to me, and why I love it so much.

Children find it much harder to articulate emotion and feelings than adults, because of their shorter life experience, so it is impossible to expect them to explain the effect a book or movie has on them. As a child, I remember being deeply in touch with my emotions when reading or watching a movie. My mother often found me crying profusely in front of the Lassie TV series but I certainly didn’t want her to turn it off.

When we were young, our parents might not have always picked up on our feelings because of our inability to articulate them, but the right movie or book at the right time met that emotional need. I suspect that my favorite movies and books became my favorites because they touched me at a time when nothing else did, in a way that made sense to me. They connected with me so powerfully that I have a subconscious desire to live that experience again.

This also accounts for other things I’ve chosen to keep - some of my sons’ books and toys. My years as a young mother were such happy years, and holding on to some of my sons’ favorites is a way of reliving a time I’ll never have again.

As I have only written one novel to date, it’s probably too soon to conclude whether these movies or books have influenced my writing, but I can’t discern any links at all, so maybe the question about any influence on my writing will have to wait a little longer.

However, I have still another unresolved question. Is my reaching back to the past a pursuit of the happy feelings the books and movies evoked, or is it an admission that I am feeling sad and vulnerable in some way, and am reaching out to what helped me deal with these feelings in the past?

As I look at the influence of these books and movies on my adult life, I see some connections, but with most, the connection remains a mystery. I have listed some below where the link is obvious to me.

So how have some of my favorites affected me?

A is for Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway - I have become a calligrapher as well as an author. I just love alphabets and fancy lettering

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman - I just love pancakes with melted butter.

Old black and white movies starring greats such as Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Gregory Peck -
these have given me a romantic, idealized view of Europe, particularly Paris, and have affected my home d├ęcor which is 20s/30s Paris apartment style. I am finally getting the opportunity to visit Paris for the first time at the end of the year.


John Wiswell said...

I still desperately need to read Hugo's Les Miserables. Regardless, I agree how difficult it can be for children to articulate, or even understand their own emotions. Everything is a developmental process for them.

Anonymous said...

As difficult as childhood can be for some of us, we grow. I remember clearly some of the influences. Thank you for the post.

Bob Sanchez said...

Little Black Sambo looks like an interesting choice. I'm not familiar with the story, though.

Maryann Miller said...

I had not thought of Little Black Sambo in quite some time, Bob. I think the message in the book is about acceptance, especially if you are different.

John, thanks for stopping by. I have not read the book, nor seen the movie, but I plan to rectify that at the earliest possible time. (smile)

Patrick, you are so right about growing out of our childhood difficulties. And thank goodness we have people and things that push us in the right directions.

Arlee Bird said...

Funny, I was just talking to my wife the other day about "Little Black Sambo". She grew up in Ecuador and was not familiar with the book. Now it's considered somewhat racially insensitive, but when I was a kid I wasn't thinking in those terms at all and still don't. When I used to read the story I thought of Sambo's bravery and ingenuity.

Do you remember the "Sambo's" restaurant chain of pancake houses? It was much like Denny's. In fact there might be a connection between them.

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

Gina Gao said...

This was a very thought provoking post, mainly because I've been trying to find my favorite stories. I remember liking The Lion King and especially Cinderella when I was younger.

kerry said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and thoughts. I'd encourage you to get hold of Little Black Sambo if you haven't already. It's a lovely read, but you must have pancakes while reading it.Thank you, Maryann, for hosting me and introducing me to your readers.

Helen Ginger said...

Certain movies, some books, make me cry. Or laugh. Or smile. Or remember something from my past. I can so easily get lost in a good book.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by to welcome Kerry. The various reactions to Little Black Sambo are interesting. I'm thinking I really do need to read the book again, and I will definitely do that while eating pancakes.

Arlee, I do remember that restaurant chain, but have no idea if it was connected to Denny's.

Marian Allen said...

Arlee, I agree. I didn't understand why that book was considered racially insensitive, unless it was Bannerman's illustrations. I thought Sambo was brilliant! I have a recipe a friend gave me for "Tiger Butter".

I collect books I liked as a child, too. In my case, it's because I never really grew up!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Dani said...

Does anyone except me remember Sambo's restaurant. Wow. I cringe when I think back on the decor.

kerry said...

I'd love a recipe for Tiger Butter, if you're willing to share it Marian! :)

Maryann Miller said...

I'd like to see the recipe, too, Marian.

Dani, I remember those restaurants, but I never went to one. We did not go out to eat when I was a child. I just remember seeing them as we drove past on our way to visit grandparents.

Morgan Mandel said...

I gave away a lot of Nancy Drew books and now wish I had kept them!

Morgan Mandel

kerry said...

Hi Morgan. You can still by Nancy Drew books on Amazon, so you could probably get them all back again. She wasn't someone I read at all but I think my sisters were into her books.

Marian Allen said...

Tiger Butter

1 lb. white chocolate (almond bark)
1 cup peanut butter (or butterscotch chips
2/3 cups chocolate chips

Melt white chocolate & peanut butter (or butterscotch) - stir until smooth.

Pour into 9 x 18 pan.

Melt chocolate chips. Pour onto above mixture - swirl with a knife.

Refrigerate until solid. Cut into squares.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

kerry said...

I can't wait to try it Marian. :)