My broken memory bank
Memory plays strange tricks, especially when you're as old as I am. I go to a movie and can't remember the plot the next day. But I can remember the makeup of the Detroit Tigers' 1934 infield. In case you're interested, Hank Greenberg was on first base, Charley Gehringer was on second, Marv Owen was on third base, and Billy Rogell was the shortstop. I can even go further and name Mickey Cochrane, the catcher, and the team's star pitchers, Elden Auker, Tommy Bridges and Schoolboy Rowe. I admit, however, that I am uncertain about who played the outfield.
I have trouble remembering the name of my neighbor across the street. But I remember that 62 years ago my first sergeant in the 903rd Signal Co. was named Rabitin and that he came from Barberton, Ohio. I'm introduced to some one at a party and almost immediately forget his or her name. I can, however, recall that my first-grade teacher was Miss Bayer and my third-grade teacher was Miss Nachenson.
I do a series of exercises each morning prescribed by physical therapists. I devote a couple of minutes to individual exercises aimed specifically for my shoulders, back, neck, knees, and legs. I start off with the shoulder exercise and by the time I get to my legs, I often forget whether I have already worked out on my shoulders. But I do recall that my Hebrew school teacher, who prepared me for my bar-mitzvah, was an unemployed accountant named Mr. Halpern.
I spend the year meticulously recording my medical expenses, contributions and other tax-deductible items so that I can do my income-tax return. I then forget where I filed the records. Nevertheless, I can vividly recall an incident involving my Aunt Lilly when I was five years old. She was then young, unmarried and living with my parents. One evening she came home from work, sobbing hysterically and pointing to the huge red headline in the now-defunct New York Journal-American. The headline reported the historic stock market crash. My unhappy aunt had invested her limited savings and had evidently lost all her money.
We have a dinner date in the evening, and my wife informs me in the morning the time of our restaurant reservation. By late afternoon, I've probably asked her a couple of times what time we have to leave. I do remember as a child, however, being in a car driven by my Uncle Bill and listening to my Aunt Esther, his wife, bawling him out for trying to light his pipe while driving the car.
I can be talking to an old friend, when suddenly I can't remember his name during the conversation. But I remember the middle initial of an old Army buddy, Owen L. Crenshaw, who I haven't seen or had contact with since the end of World War II.
I often can't remember what my wife and I had for dinner the night before. Yet I can recall that another Army buddy, Wally Swanson, who was as Swedish-looking as his Scandinavian name, once told me that his mother was Italian.
I set out to drive to my bank, and it dawns on me while I'm already on the road that I'm not sure I'm going the right way. Nevertheless, I can remember our apartment-house neighbors who were in show-business when I was a child. The family lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and I still wonder where the husband and their adult son, both nightclub musicians, and their adult daughter, a dancer, could have stored all the fancy clothes they wore when they went to work early each evening.
When walking into my bedroom during the day to find something, I frequently forget what I am looking for. Still, I remember that, when I was a boy, our next-door neighbor, a Mrs. Tuchman, had a nephew named Alfred Swidler, with whom I occasionally walked to school.
If I could only repair my memory bank by shifting some of my long-term capabilities to the short-term region, life would be much easier and less embarrassing.