Was it a dream or was it real? Have you ever woken and in a hazy half-wakeful state wondered if what you experienced was real? As the sleep state wears off and consciousness gradually returns to the dreamer, sometimes this question is pondered for a moment or even longer. As years pass by we may retain vivid memories of things that may never have even really happened. Likewise we may supress the memories of things that did happen to the extent they become dreamlike or pushed into the realms of forgetfulness. Was it the real life or was it just fantasy?
Last Friday I recounted a childhood dream about finding a baby skeleton. I told how when I awoke I checked to see if the baby skeleton was where I had put it in the dream. When I realized it was only a dream, I was disappointed, but the memory of the vivid dream remained with me. This week I am offering a guessing game for you.
To follow are four childhood memories that I have that seem very vivid to me. One I know is real, one is definitely a dream, and the other two I seem to remember as real but I don't know for sure. I'll leave it to you to guess which is which.
THE BIG TREEHOUSE
It was 1957 and I was in the first grade. Beside the school I attended, Garfield Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a wooded area. One day I was exploring the woods with one of my young friends--Jimmy Wolfe as I recall-- and we came upon a very large house that was built above the ground in the trees. It was an actual dwelling that was mounted into several trees. It was painted a very glossy tree leaf green, had a screened in porch, and had a wooden staircase leading up to the house. Jimmy and I immediately left when we realized we were in someone else's yard.
THE LIGHTNING STORM
There had been a huge thuderstorm with a great deal of lightning. I do not remember the actual storm occurring, but only the aftermath. I went outside in the front yard. The air felt clean and fresh and everything seemed new. People were walking by on the sidewalk that passed in front of our house. I was surprised to find large jagged shards of lightning pieces in the front yard. I gathered them up. They were smooth and solid as though they were made of glass.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE
My sister Joy and I were going to downtown Cleveland with my mother. It was 1955 and since my mother did not have a car to drive we had to take the bus. We had to walk a few blocks from our house on West 143rd Street to the mainline where there was a bus stop. As we waited on the bench a chilling breeze swooshed over me and with it a smell. I looked across the street to what I had seen before but always tried to avoid seeing. It was a large old abandoned house that I always referred to as the haunted house. The unpainted wood was now weathered gray and a odor that made me think of foreboding history, mustiness, and perhaps even death exuded from the building. I was glad when the bus came and took us away from that frightening place. At the next stop two nuns boarded the bus. Not knowing what a nun was I thought they were ghosts.
A CONFUSION OF WORDS
It was very dark that night in the backseat of my parents car. I was probably about 4 or 5 years old. We were coming or going, I don't remember. I only remember that I felt scared. My parents were talking in low tones, probably thinking I was asleep. I heard them say something about a "tornado" and my fear increased. But then I remembered them having also mentioned a city called "Toledo" in times past. Since Toledo was near Cleveland, where we lived at that time, we would sometimes go there. I then thought perhaps we were going to or passing near Toledo. But my fear returned as I looked out into the darkness beyond the car window. I was certain that they were talking about a tornado. In the darkness, I could see the cornfields with the cornstalks leaning in the wind.
So which was in the real life? Which was just a fantasy? Which two are questionable memories of a child's mind?
Or what about you? Do you have a particular childhood dream that stands out in your memory? Do you seem to remember something that you are sure happened but nobody else can confirm? Do you remember much from your childhood at all?