What Is Your Earliest Memory?

When StoryCorps participants arrive at one of our recording booths, we provide them with a list of suggested questions for getting the conversation going. One of these questions gets at the very beginning of someone’s story: What is your earliest memory?

The following are just a handful of the many earliest memories we’ve recorded. Some are stories, some are snapshots, and some are a child’s perspective on larger historical events. What is YOUR earliest memory? Share it in the comments section below!

Betty Livingston

“My earliest memory is standing by the stove and my mother peeling white potatoes on a little green stool, a chair with the back broken off. And she let me stand there and watch her. And she’d always give me a piece of the raw potato and I just loved it.”
- Betty Livingston, age 71, in Indianapolis, IN

Oscar Velasquez

“My grandmother swimming fully clothed in the river and doing backstrokes.”
- Oscar Velasquez, age 74, in Abilene, TX

John McReynolds

“My earliest memory was the day WWII ended. I have a very vivid memory of being a young, young child in the back seat of a convertible and seeing adults do things like run and scream and jump, things that were very unusual for adults to do.”
- John McReynolds, age 64, in Logan, UT


Camille Atkinson

“Being on my pop pop’s shoulders and pushing on his straw hat.”
- Camille Atkinson, age 29, in New York, NY

John Eichenlaub

“My earliest memory is sitting in a green bedroom at our next door neighbors’ and playing with their toys. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out from my mother that she had been stricken with Polio, and they had sent me next door because an ambulance was coming to take her to the hospital.”
- John Eichenlaub, age 59, in Cleveland, OH

Carole Falvey

“I remember my mother telling me that little children were found under a cabbage leaf. My mother said that some little fairy had put me there for her particularly. It was quite a long time before I learned where I really did come from.”
- Carole Falvey, age 67, in Denver, CO

Sharon Mast

“Playing with a doll house on the linoleum floor of the living room.”
- Sharon Mast, age 57, in New York, NY

Kay Edwards

“Some of the earliest memories I have involve being with my father, sitting on the floor, and him cleaning shoes and me helping him clean shoes because he was a police officer and his shoes had to shine.”
- Kay M. Edwards, age 48, in New York, NY

Imogene Psschall

“I had a little iron bed that I slept in every night that was rolled up to the side of my parents’ bed and dad held my hand until I went to sleep.”
- Imogene Psschall, age 87, in Murray, KY

Alexander Blanton

“My mother was regaling a group of people on the beach and I wandered away from her. I walked into the water and fell into a deep hole. I had the presence of mind, thank God, to raise my little hand. The tips of my fingers were above the water and a man came and plucked me out like Moses was plucked from the Nile.”
- Alexander M. Blanton, age 72, in New York, NY



9 Responses to “What Is Your Earliest Memory?”

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  • Brilliant Kevin. I have so many memories, but one that comes to mind right now is my first day in 1st grade. After the nun told us some of the things we would learn that year, I raised my hand and said, “I don’t think I need to be in this class, because I already know all of these things”. The nun said, “Well I think there are still a few things I can teach you”.

    Comment from Nzingha on December 2, 2008 at 6:55 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Diving for rings in the swimming pool. I took swimming lessons with my mom in Mesa, AZ. I think I might have been 2 years old. I’ve always been a water baby.

    Comment from christa on November 19, 2008 at 11:01 am - Reply to this Comment
  • How interesting! Thanks for the memories.

    One of my earliest memories is playing with my cousin while our moms sit on packing crates nearby, ice fishing, then later, watching my grandmother put whale blubber into the coal stove. I can still hear the blubber sizzle as it hits the fire.

    Comment from doreen on November 13, 2008 at 10:52 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Winning the contest in my kindergarten classroom for naming the pet bunny “Carrot” and then getting to take care of it every day before and after school for a week!

    Comment from sara on November 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Velcroing and unvelcroing my new shoes over and over

    Comment from Mike R on November 13, 2008 at 1:33 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • drinking an entire bowl of goldfish (the crackers) at my parents’ christmas party at our old house in newark, delaware, and carrying them around in my cheeks. i think this is on video somewhere.

    Comment from mike d on November 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • lovely post, kevin; what a way to exploit the riches of the storycorps archive!
    my earliest memory, i think: disrupting a hamilton, ontario rec-league men’s softball game by darting out onto the field mid-play and affixing myself to my dad’s leg.

    Comment from talya on November 12, 2008 at 6:51 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • My earliest memory was the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. In those days, we were told to stand under a doorway during a ‘quake. I remember looking out at the street and watching the sidewalk rippling. Behind me in our living room, my grandmother and great aunt were holding each other on a vibrating couch.

    Comment from Kevin on November 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • I remember taking a bath in the sink of my mothers house in Sacramento. It was dimly lit and the water was cold.

    Comment from alex on November 12, 2008 at 4:53 am - Reply to this Comment

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