Sherlocking My Memory

I go on little digital quests sometimes, provoked by a stray memory into full-blown sleuth mode.

Sometimes I just need to look at old calendars. Sometimes, though, I have to dig around a little, sometimes a lot. I can get obsessive and waste a fair amount of time on what is pointless and worthless and mostly just for fun.

Just to see if it was the way I remembered it being, which it probably wasn’t. Or I’ll get a wild hair about something trivial and have to track it all the way down. The internet is evil this way.

It’s usually something I can find the answer to. It’s the release date of a movie, or some news event that I’m tugging out from behind the cobwebs, and I wonder if I remember it correctly. As I said, most of the time I don’t. It’s enough to make me skeptical about all of my memories, qualifying them at least to myself—this is what I remember. Not necessarily what happened.

In 2003, on the 40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I started thinking about one of the witnesses who always shows up on the archival footage of that day. He had a child with him, his son, and I started wondering about this little kid’s presence on such an awful day. He was my age, then and now. I researched.

I found him, too. I didn’t do anything about it, contact him or whatever. I wrote a column.


So here’s what I know: On a winter’s night in 1965, when I was 6 years old, shivering from the bitter cold of southern California (I embellish, sue me), my siblings and I gathered around our little black-and-white television set, warmed by the glow and the magic of movies (ditto).

It was the annual CBS showing of The Wizard of Oz, a big deal, at least if you were 6 and me. So I remember, because my parents announced that they had a better offer. They piled us in the station wagon and we went out to the drive-in movies to see Mary Poppins.

That’s what I recall. The film opened in December 1964, and Oz was shown in those days in January or sometimes a bit later, always in the first quarter of the year. I could find the listings but that’s a lot of work for trivia.


I thought about it the other day, is all, as I spent a Saturday afternoon baking and watching Saving Mr. Banks while I waited for stuff to rise. I’d seen it five years ago, when it was released on video and I watched it on a plane.

I enjoyed it again, very much, although it was more personal this time. I began to insert myself into the film, as it told the back story of PL Travers and Walt Disney, dancing around each other to get the flying nanny onto the big screen. I would have been the target audience, then, a 3-year-old anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mary.

I wasn’t, I’m sure. I do remember reading the books at some point, but maybe not by 1964. And I could be misremembering; I’m sure my brother and sister have no such memory, since this is the kind of thing I recall, not so much with them.

I spent about 20 minutes hunting down what facts I could find, though. Please donate to Wikipedia when you can.

Chuck SigarsComment