Who was your first “best friend”?
Susie Saylor lived across the street and we were inseparable.
What was your most memorable birthday as a child?
Probably my 6th when I had a party at which my mother surprised me with a wedding dress for my Barbie doll that she made from remnants of the white lace Confirmation dress she sewed for my sister. She created an entire ensemble including a veil, garter, and bouquet, all featuring tiny artificial flowers.
Who was your first “crush”?
It was in first grade, I believe. His name was John.
Where was the best vacation your family took as a child?
The very first time we ever went to Disneyland.
What was your favorite pastime as a child?
I had many: Reading, playing outside with my friends, my dolls (especially Barbie for whom I sewed clothes), music (piano and clarinet in those days). We were luckier than our children because we could hop on our bikes and ride all over town without alarming our parents in the least. In the summer, I used to get on my bike in the morning with my clarinet for summer band, my bathing suit and towel, and a few snacks, and be gone all day. I knew that dinner was served promptly at 5:12 p.m. when my father got home from work and if I wasn’t there, I would be in trouble. My mother knew the places I went, the names and addresses of my friends. We had never heard of a cell phone and nobody worried about their child being kidnapped.
When did you learn to ride a two-wheel bike?
I don’t remember how old I was but I have distinct memories of my father and sister teaching me to ride in the cul-de-sac by our house.
What is your most traumatic memory as a child?
We were caught in a horrid blizzard en route home from South Dakota right after Christmas 1965. My father was amazing. He followed the lights high atop the rear of a semi truck for about 20 miles back into Coalville, Utah. The ground flurries made it in possible to see anything immediately in front of us, including the hood of our own car. To this day, I hate snow and have never, ever attempted to drive in it. Never will.
What age did you learn to swim?
I was about 6 or 7, I think.
What smell automatically takes you back to your childhood?
There are many. Any time I enter an auto repair shop and smell the mixture of grease, oil, exhaust, etc., I remember visiting my father at the shop where he was employed as a transmission specialist for 27 years.
Sometimes in the evening, we still catch a whiff of Cheerios emanating from the local General Mills plant and I recall sitting on the patio on summer evenings with my sister and parents. Sometimes we got root beer from the original A&W on Lodi Avenue. Other times, we had fresh baked peach pie or cobbler made with the delicious peaches from the tree in our backyard. Best of all, we sometimes made vanilla ice cream and garnished it with fresh peaches.
What was your first pet?
My sister had a guinea pig once and, of course, we went through the gold fish phase. But the first pet I ever owned myself and had full responsibility for was my beloved T.C. (Top Cat) who adopted me when I lived in Glendale in 1981. She started hanging out on my step and waiting for me in the tree in the front yard, following me up the driveway as she talked to me each night after work. Finally, I couldn’t resist, let her into the house, and began feeding her. She slept on the foot of my bed for the next 18 years. I still miss her.
Who impacted your life as a child?
Many people, including my mother and only sibling, who both inspired and destroyed me. My father was always a mystery to me as a child. I did not understand him until well into adulthood. I was also impacted by several teachers, pastors, and numerous friends.
What is a day you will never forget as a child?
The day we attended my paternal grandfather’s funeral. It was the first funeral I ever attended and I remember being mesmerized by all that was happening around me and the way that my father’s relatives were behaving. Most particularly, I remember looking up at my father’s face as I sat next to him and seeing a tear roll down his cheek. I had never seen him cry before. Before that day, I don’t think it had ever occurred to me that he could cry.
What is the most exciting Christmas gift you received as a child?
Nothing really stands out in my memory.
Who was your first “real” kiss?
I no longer remember.
Who was the neighborhood bully when you were growing up?
I believe her name was Marlys Samski. She lived at the end of the block and was a few years older than me. One day we were all practicing twirling our batons. I guess I was using hers . . . I no longer remember. I just recall that she picked hers up from the driveway, accused me of somehow bending it, and demanded that I pay her money to replace it. She haunted me for weeks and I hid from her, scared that she would make good on her promise to beat me up if I didn’t pay. I had no money to give her, of course, and I wasn’t the one who bent her baton, anyway. She was just blaming me in an effort to bully me into giving her money for a new one. I believe that I eventually told my parents what had been happening and my father went down to their house and had a talk with his father. That put an end to her behavior.
Who was your best friend as a teenager?
I still hang out with the same people, including Robin, whom I have known since fourth grade and is my kids’ godmother.
What is the first car you can remember your family owning?
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Pink with a white hard top, wide whitewalls, and a black interior. It looked just like the one in this photo:
What was the first award you ever received?
In first grade, I won an award for reading more books and writing reports about them than anyone else in my class. I still remember that I read 147 books.
What is the name of the first sports team you played on?
I have never been a member of a sports team.
Source: Fun Surveys.