Karen Harrington's Top Ten Childhood Memories

    We're over halfway through the 2013 Standalone Reading Challenge, but Hafsah and I still have fun features coming your way. Today I'm happy to share with you a post written by Karen Harrington, author of Sure Signs of Crazy . I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Top Ten Childhood Memories

(in no particular order)

    I made scores of notes for this blog post. How do you whittle childhood memories down to ten? I settled on these because they have one thing in common: they immediately made me laugh or smile when I thought of them.

1. Playing “The Gong Show”: My sister found a hubcap in a nearby field. We ran a string through it and hung it between two of my dad’s sawhorses in our garage. Then, we invited our neighborhood friends over and asked everyone to do a little performance. Of course, everyone was “gonged” and we all fought to be the “gong-er.” My little brother and I did our version of the news. He was the weatherman and when he announced, “Today, it’s raining cats and dogs,” it was my job to hurl a bucket of stuffed animals over his head.

2. Chasing the snow cone man: Even to this day, the snow cone song can take me back in time. Was there anything so great as begging your parents for dimes and running down the street to get a sweet, cold treat?

3. Gathering rain in buckets: My mother told us that rain would make our hair softer so when it rained, we set out kitchen bowls and buckets to collect the water. Then, we’d run in and shampoo our hair and rinse it with rainwater. I don’t know if this is an old wives’ tale or true, but I loved doing this.

4. Forking a friend’s yard: You probably remember either wrapping someone’s house with toilet paper or getting your own house wrapped. We took this practice to the next level by purchasing a ton of white plastic forks and planting them all over a friend’s yard one night.

5. Donuts on Sunday: Without fail, my dad would get a dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts every single Sunday. We’d go with him and look through the baker’s glass window and watch a baker roll out dough. I must have been enamored with this because working at Dunkin Donuts was my first job as a teenager.

6. Eating cat food: Not every childhood memory is a pleasant one, right? (That’s what makes good writers.) One day, my older sister pretended that she ate cat food and told me it was a tasty treat. Because I did everything she said, I ate it and then she made fun of me forever and told me I’d grow whiskers. This is probably a GOOD childhood memory, however, because it marked the time when I didn’t blindly follow my sister anymore. And of course, this makes me laugh to think about it now.

7 Going to the Rexall Drug Store with my mother: In my childhood memories, there was no better place than the Rexall because it seemed like it contained everything in the universe. My mother let us roam all over while she shopped.

8. The hot, hot, hot summer of 1980: Now, there are believed to be more than ten Eskimo words for snow. Why aren’t there that many words for hot in Texas? The summer of 1980 was especially hot/blistering/melting/interminable. There was a blackout right in the middle of the summer and one night, it was actually cooler outside than inside. I remember all the parents and kids were outside in the street at what seemed to be midnight.

9 Riding a unicycle: I’ll bet every childhood includes that one, begged for, please-please-please, I want this, toy. Mine was a unicycle. I can’t tell you exactly why I thought my life would end if I didn’t get it. I did get it and learned to ride it a little bit. Mostly, I learned how to fall off successfully, which is also a good skill.

10. Visiting my Aunt Treva: She was “that” aunt to me and was the first person to take me to Chilis for a huge cheeseburger. Whenever we visited her house, it seemed like the best place to live on the planet. (Now, of course, I know that “different” is exotic to kids because my girls feel the same way when they visit other people’s houses.) Aunt Treva had a huge, corner backyard with enormous trees. I thought she was so funny because she got rid of squirrels by filling up a water gun with Tabasco and shooting the critters. At the time, I thought this was just odd. Now that I have my own house and garden, I understand what pests squirrels can be and I confess to using the ‘Aunt Treva method.’ The way I see it, I’m just giving my own children interesting childhood memories.

About the Book

August 20, 2013
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Love can be a trouble word for some people. Crazy is also a trouble word.

I should know.

You've never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her friends obsess over Harry Potter, she spends her time writing letters to Atticus Finch. She collects trouble words in her diary. Her best friend is a plant. And she's never known her mother, who left when Sarah was two. Since then, Sarah and her dad have moved from one small Texas town to another, and not one has felt like home. Everything changes when Sarah launches an investigation into her family's Big Secret. She makes unexpected new friends and has her first real crush, and instead of a "typical boring Sarah Nelson summer," this one might just turn out to be extraordinary.