Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On Turning 10

Brianna turns 10 this week.

10 was a big year for me.  For one thing, you are finally in double digits.  But for another, now, as an adult, whenever I remember big things that happened when I was a kid, I almost always think they happened when I was 10.  I know that realistically something of import must have happened when was 11 or 12, but in my mind it's always in my 10th year.

For one thing, Kaiser came to San Francisco in 1953 and my father joined.  I remember the office on Market Street and going up a dark staircase with my mother to take Karen in for skin tests to see what she was allergic to (everything, as it turned out!)

Because we now had health care, I got my eyes tested and discovered that my eyesight was bad, so I got my first glasses when I was 10.  They diagnosed me with lazy eye blindness in one eye and I had to wear a patch over my "good" eye in the evenings.  It didn't help.  I still have amblyopia.  I read a once that if you catch it before 10, it can be reversed, but by 10 it's pretty much too late.

I was also put on my first diet when I was 10 and have pretty much been on and off diets for the next 60 years.  Even when I was so thin because I stopped eating, I can't ever remember not feeling like I was fat.

My friend Stephen introduced me to "The Black Stallion" when we were 10.  I know I read books before that, but I can still picture standing outside our flat returning the book to him and pointing out that Walter Farley, the author, had a list of all his books on the back and they were all about horses except the last one, Random House.  I'm 75 years old and I can still remember how embarrassed I was when he pointed out to me that Random House was the publisher, not the name of a book.  But it made an avid reader of me and I think I read every horse, dog or cat book in our local library.

My godmother died when I was 10.  Again, I vividly remember being in the pantry of our flat, washing dishes when my mother came in to talk about my godmother.  I knew she was in the hospital, but my mother said, "I think you're old enough to know what's going on" and told me that she was dying.  Her funeral was a big affair that nearly filled St. Brigid's church.  Her husband had been a San Francisco district attorney and she herself had worked in a law office for years, was active in many organizations, especially the Catholic church and had so many friends that the guys who served as the altar boys for the funeral, who were in my class, asked me who she was because they had never seen such a big funeral before.

My father bought an honest to goodness hi-fi record player that he was so thrilled with.   I had recently seen the movie Calamity Jane and loved the music so I bought my very first long playing record (8").

Eisenhower became our 34th president when I was 10.  During the campaign, I think I might have been the only student in my school who did not have an "I Like Ike" button.  My family voted for Stevenson and I was a real outsider, politically.

I saw A Star is Born for the first time when I was 10.  My friend Gayle, who lived two blocks away, and I used to go to movies together but for some reason I was not able to go with her when she saw this Judy Garland movie.  On the walk to school the next morning, she told me the plot of the movie and I knew I wanted to see it.  Of course it changed my life.  I became a life-long Judy Garland fanatic and have probably seen A Star Is Bornover 100 time by now.  I'll still watch it if it comes on TV.

We got our first television when I was 10.  It was a big box Muntz and it sat on the window seat in our living room.

The first show we watched was Life with Luigi, with J. Carroll Nash playing an Italian immigrant learning English. 

Because we now had a TV in 1953, we were able to watch the very first Academy Awards broadcast to be televised.  I remember that all of the nominees were seated around what looked like a giant cake and I thought that was so cool and was disappointed when they did not repeat it the next year.

A lot of memorable things happened when I was 10.  I hope that when Brianna gets into her 70s she will have a lot of memorable things to look back on when she was 10.  When I look at pictures of her today, I can't believe was that small when I was 10 (well, I'm sure I was taller) because my memories are so vividly adult, but obviously were not.

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