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What Is Your First Memory?

February 27, 2022

What is your first memory? I mean your very first memory, the very first thing you can recall from your past.

Our minds are capable to remembering things from a long, long time ago. However, everyone’s memory seems to have different limitations on how far back they go. Some can remember things from their infancy and others only recall their lives beginning at various ages in childhood, often in grade school. Still others seem to block everything out before a certain point. Where do you fit in?

Personally, I can recall quite vividly stomping on cockroaches in Des Moines, Iowa when I was very, very young. How young? According to my mother, I was six months old and just learning how to walk. I recall the basement of the house where we lived. It had a grated drain in the middle of the room where an old washing machine was located. I remember that machine as well. It was one of those hand-cranked roller affairs that disappeared all together in the late 1950s. Around the grate, I would see cockroaches. Being a barbaric toddler, I would try to crush them with my little Buster Brown shoes.

My father claimed to have remembered his older sister changing his clothes on a granite table in Austria. In fact he remembered the incident vividly, including the surroundings in the room at the time. However, his sister died when my father was six months old. His memory too must have extended into the first few months of his life. It is interesting that his memory of such an early event stayed with him for over 88 years.

In checking with others, I have found that memories usually coalesce about the time of kindergarten. Some are fuzzy and some are crystal clear. Again, I remember spilling soap on a young girl’s dress when I was in the first grade. Her name was Sandy and I was reprimanded for being sloppy. On the other side of the memory scale, I have spoken to many childhood friends and they recall nothing that I remember from over 60 years ago.

Take a minute and think back as far as you can. What is your first memory? Let us know here on this forum.

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  1. I’ve been fascinated by memory for a long time; how two people can remember the same event in very different ways.

    My first memory is falling down the basement stairs at my grandmothers house when I was 2. I remember it quite vividly, the wide wooden steps and the cement basement floor. There were ants on the floor near a broken jar of jam and I was terrified they would crawl on me. I cut my head and my lip.

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  2. My first memory is pre-kindergarten, staying with my aunt and uncle, sneaking a drink of his beer. 🙂

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  3. Um, my son says he remembers being born. I pooh-poohed it but he was a caesarean and he talked about the light above. The first memories of both my mother and Grandma Leora were when they were about two. I was two when my sister was born. I remember visiting my mother at the hospital (they were kept there 10 days in those days.) But Mom and Grandma wrote tons of memories from when they were 3 and 4. I guess I was a dud then, as I don’t have any from that age.

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  4. You must have taken care of the cockroaches here in Des Moines. We’ve lived here for 45 years and I don’t ever remember seeing one!

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