Gail’s daughter, Virginia Allain, wrote this for another site. Reblogging it here.
My real memories only go back so far, so I don’t actually remember being me in the picture below. Since I was too young to store the memory of that moment, my knowledge of it comes from family stories and pictures. Those earliest times are framed in my mind by black and white photos, faded and with edges curling slightly.
It’s a time created by family stories making space in my memories.
I look at the picture of me sitting on an overturned red wagon. It had to be red, weren’t they all red in those days? On my lap, there’s a black and white puppy and my baby arms clasp him close to me. My memory bank contains no reference for the puppy. No one told me its name or where it came from.
I don’t know what happened to the puppy later. When we moved to the Big House, we had a dog named Tippy that I remember well. I was 4 or 5 years old then. Could this puppy be Tippy?
I’m wearing a little girl’s dress just like all little 1950s toddlers wore. I never thought to ask as we looked through the family pictures, “who made the dress, Mama or Grandma?”
I never asked where were my shoes. The grass and weeds must have felt rough to my bare feet. Since it is Kansas, I’m sure there were chiggers and sandburs.
Given my approximate age in the picture, I know it was the yard at the Little House. My parents rented that from my grandparents who lived a quarter mile down the road in the Big House. Another photo shows the Little House which couldn’t have had more than a few rooms in it. It’s a tiny box of a house. Where did four children sleep in such a small house?
These old photos give me clues to a long-ago time. The people who could tell me more about that time are gone. It will always be an incomplete fragment of time in my mind.
In the photo of the Little House, the yard looks pretty bare. Perhaps that was right after the flood of 1951 had subsided.