Wendell Nope Early Memories Page
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My Earliest Memory

I remember very clearly standing in my crib in the house at 309 Macy Street (aka The Old House) looking at a television with Mickey Mouse dancing back and forth. I remember that Mickey was a stick-figure type character and I remember his squeaky voice singing. I remember the TV screen was rounded on the sides and the screen bulged out forward and wasn't flat. I also remember the slats of the crib being vertical and skinny. I have no idea how young I was, but I know when we lived in that house I was very-very young. I suspect I was one or two years old.

The Bathtub Duck

I remember, while living at the same house, being in a diaper sitting in a wash-tub with water up to my chest when my Dad brought a white duck (live) over and placed it in the wash-tub with me. I remember the duck quacking and it had a yellow beak. I remember thinking it was huge. My Dad stayed next to the tub while the duck and I interacted. Again, I have no idea how young I was but I was still in a diaper. There is a photo of this moment somewhere in the Nope family files and I will place it here when I find it. I suspect I was two years old.

Fishing with "Big Bre"

I remember walking to the Calcasieu River with my Uncle Breman (Baker) to go fishing. I know I was very young because I had to look up to see his belt buckle. He was a short man and so I must have been easily under 36" tall. I don't remember the fishing, I only remember the walking. I suspect I was three years old. I distinctly remember that he didn't have his false teeth in and his mouth looked funny as he talked. Anyone who ever knew Big Bre (pronounced "bree") will attest to his good nature and loving personality.

Filling the Tank

Another early life recollection is the day I did a bad thing. I'm sure I was about four years old when I decided I wanted to fill up the car's gas tank like I saw my Dad do on many occasions. I was at home and the car was parked near the house. I remember looking at the car and having the thought to fill it up. So I walked over to to the side of the house and picked up the garden hose. I then fought with the faucet until the water flowed and then proudly walked over to the car and filled up the gas tank. I was so proud of myself. I can't remember what happened after that but I know I got in trouble. The innocence of youth.!

Santa Claus

Another early life recollection was an experience I really didn't figure out until I was almost a teenager. As a very-very young child, I was in my bed on a Christmas Eve. My mother had told me that I needed to go to sleep right away or Santa Claus wouldn't be able to come. She said something to the effect that if I saw him he would go back out without leaving the presents. My bed was in the southeast corner of the front room of the "Old House." There was a window right there, facing south, that I could easily look out of as I laid there. Some length of time passed, I don't have an idea how long. I remember, as clearly as if it happened yesterday, looking out the window and seeing a red flashing light flying across the sky. I suddenly thought, "Oh no, that's Rudolph leading Santa's sleigh. I saw Santa and now he won't come to my house." I remember burying my head in the pillow and thinking, "I didn't mean to see you Santa, please come to my house ... please!" I didn't dare take my face out of the pillow and was on the verge of tears. I remember thinking this was the baddest thing I had ever done in my life and how was I ever going to be a good boy again. Oddly, this was my first experience at serious anxiety. But, it turned out well, as Santa did indeed come while I was asleep. This was probably one of my first experiences at self-analyzing and self-therapy.

Walking to Walgreens

I have many fond memories of walking from the Old House to the Walgreens Store in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana. The store was on the corner of Ryan Street and Broad Street. My mother didn't drive and so we walked to town when she needed something. I suppose it to be about 1-1/2 miles all together. Almost every time when we'd go, after we got medicine or whatever at Walgreens, we'd then walk a bit further to another store (don't remember the name) and have a Rootbeer Float at the deli inside. A lady worked there who was one of my mother's Church friends and they'd visit while I drank my Float. It was on these journeys that my mother taught me about being a gentleman. She taught me that the man walks on the side of the traffic when there are cars, to protect the lady. Another point was that the man checked for traffic both ways before leading the lady across the intersection. And, of course, that the man always opens the doors for the lady and lets her enter first. I'm quite certain that these early forays in which I role-played the "man" were vital in establishing southern gentleman-ly behaviors which I have internalized even till today.

Tarzan Vines

Another recollection is when I used to play Tarzan in the trees that grew along the bank of a small drainage ditch on the west side of the property where my house was. I know that I had started elementary school, but this Tarzan-thing couldn't have begun any later than the 2nd grade, I'm sure. Anyway, the trees had numerous vines which hung down to the ground along the ditch-bank. I remember the first day I looked up one of the vines and had an image of Tarzan flash into my mind. I climbed up this vine to about 20' high and got into the tree. I crawled along a branch and got onto a vine that crossed over to another tree. I remember looking back where I had come from and decided that this was how Tarzan had gotten his start and I was gonna be like him.

I spent many-many hours playing and swinging on those vines and in those trees over the years. I got braver as time passed and it became nothing to leap from a branch and grab a vine several feet out in the air. I do remember one incident when I jumped out to grab a vine and it wasn't attached very well in the upper part of the tree. As soon as my full weight was on it, the vine started tearing loose from the upper tree limbs. I distinctly remember that time slowed down for me as I started heading downward and I hit the ground kinda hard. But the vine having tendrils in the upper branches had slowed me down to the point that I landed no harder than jumping off maybe a 6' height. I remember standing up and thinking that's enough for today!

I really think these early experiences of jumping out, grabbing the vines, and also the exploration thrill-factor of this particular childhood adventure had a profound effect on my adult character. I feel like I entered the "real" world with a resolve to meet new challenges with an objective willingness. It's interesting how some seemingly insignificant childhood experience could have such a profound effect on an adult life!

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