Memory Connections: Tracing Our Origins

29 Jun

“Hi, I’m Terri Schexnayder and I am from Houston, Texas! Where are you from?” This greeting at the beginning of our Memory Connections workshop at YMCA North launched a wonderful discussion about where writers were from—oftentimes expressed as the place where they were born or the many places where they lived. Then we read “Child of Summer” by Lynn Worley, and the room filled with chatter about wringer washers, wearing hand-me-downs and flour sack dresses, and who had “fish sticks every Friday night.” They began to understand that we are “from” so many people, places, and things. One writer even exclaimed after discussing the poem, “This helps us share our memories!”

The power of writing, with its cathartic, playful, and memory-rich possibilities, became evident, time and time again, when I had the honor of being with these amazing authors. Enjoy their stories, poetry, and learning more about where and what “they are from.”

Terri Schexnayder
Teaching Artist

I’m From


I’m from homemade ice cream from the big freezer.
I’m from the baby ducklings and worried mama hen.
I’m from grandmother’s house and a stocking filled with oranges and other goodies.
I’m from feeding lambs and one baby goat.
I’m from yellow hair and a bonnet to keep the sunburns from my freckled face.

Ruth Crowson

Homemade Ice Cream


We all lived together in two houses—my granddaddy, grandmother, an aunt and uncle, my parents, and me. There were fresh peaches we all liked, and homemade ice cream created in a big container by this one and that one. Kids took turns sitting on the freezer while an uncle turned the crank. Grandmother made the ice cream mixture and my mother cut the peaches. Then, all were packed in ice. The child snuck a slight taste of salt. It was party time, you know! All ages came to eat the homemade peach ice cream.

Ruth Crowson

I’m From


I’m from bland Irish cooking.
I’m from the high school football trophy.
I’m from Saturday soccer games.
I’m from “Shut the door behind you! Were you raised in a barn?”
I’m from my dad and mom, and all Irish grandparents.
I’m from Boston, Massachusetts.

Billy Garry

My Memorable Object


Somewhere in the dark recesses of my attic, I still have a plaque from my Little League days. It’s inscribed with my initials and the initials, “M.H.L.L.” I used to tell the lie that those initials stood for “Most Hits.” But in reality, it’s a participation trophy, which everyone received, and the “M.H.L.L.” stood for “Mission Hill Little League.” It’s not a necessity, but I won’t throw that trophy away.

Billy Garry

I Am From


I am from

peach cobbler shared with cousins who couldn’t
cut it in a straight line –

a Gil McDougal fielder’s mitt
so old it was made in America –

family vacation trips by car
lubricated by reading from A.A. Milne’s
children’s book—

“Chuckie won’t play ball with me” and
“Chuck, John, Robbie, SKIPPER!”
when my mother wanted to scold the dog –

a long line of “furr-iners”
generations who were in a place,
but not “of” its culture –

My home place on a tidal creek that emptied into a river
that, two miles later, emptied into the Chesapeake Bay.
We used to joke that some of our mosquitoes would land at
Langley Field (ten miles away by air) and refuel without being detected.

J. “Jim” Hadden, Jr.

I’m From


I’m from garden-grown tomatoes, eggs from our own hens, and hand-kneaded biscuits.
I’m from a self-designed and hand-sewn prom dress with store-bought lace.
I’m from “You’ll catch your death!”
I’m from the Taylor birthday dinner on the Sunday nearest PawPaw’s birthday—
and, others who had birthdays near his, which included me,
so I got to eat at the first table.
I’m from a mother who read every book she could and played school with me.
Because of her, I started school in the second grade.
I’m from the black land farmland of Collin County, Texas.

Ouita Haltom



As far back as I can remember, I have loved peanut butter. Maybe it was because my mother had what she called “a steady diet” of it when growing up (and growing to detest it!). Whatever the reason, she left it off the grocery list more often than not, causing me to crave it. That must have brought about a conflict for her—the most inexpensive sandwich making in the middle of the “Great Depression.”

And so I looked forward to going to school and taking my lunch with peanut butter sandwiches. As far as I knew, there was no alternative. To Mother, however, here was an opportunity to introduce to me the myriad of other things that could be made into a sandwich.

Ouita Haltom

Beef and Chicken Slaw Taco


Something crunchy for our “lunchy”
is waiting for you on your plate.
So, squeeze the lime on “taco” divine
and you’ll find it’s just fine—
and cost you just only three dimes.


Chocolate Brownie Pumpkin Cake


Chocolate topped with a pumpkin layer is a “yummy, yummy fit for your honey”
supersize dessert to enjoy,
so come for a chat over a chocolate delight
It’s for sure we won’t have any worries about fights.


Capturing the Moment


As I get older each year, I find myself checking the inside of our family car to make sure I have a ballpoint pen (or moderate-size fountain pen) and a small tablet to write on. It may be that I want to write down the name of a popular song being sung on the radio or the name of the person singing it. It will be handy to have these things written down if I get to the music store to purchase a CD. It’s nice to have background music as backup or to sing along with the correct pitches. You can also learn the words to the music!

When I shop for a CD at a book store or wherever, I have to take the time to locate it first, so I call the store to see if they have the music I want. If they do, I ask them to put my name on it. I might pick it up that afternoon for a program with the elementary students the next month. The CD is a necessity, a small item to obtain for the program with fourth graders. The music is already familiar to them, but they will now memorize the words to it. All of this is an important part of a musical program at school—it’s almost the end of the semester! A song set to a familiar melody and perfect for ending the school year.


I’m From


I’m from one vegetable, one baked potato, and one piece of meat.
I’m from a bicycle—two wheels, chain-driven.
I’m from “Be back in time for dinner and don’t be late!”
I’m from a low-priced summer apartment at the shore with a wooden ice chest,
no refrigerator, sand on the floor brought in by kids coming directly from the beach.

I’m from my father, his quiet, his sense of humor, a regular worker, reliable.
He was a talented amateur mechanic and handyman—I am not like him in this regard.
I never had his talent as a mechanic, but
I am like him in the sense that I love to take naps!


Spaghetti Dinners


When I was growing up as a young boy, I remember the spaghetti that my mom would make. Once, while it was cooking on our kitchen stove, my whole family could smell the aroma of it wafting through the house. When the spaghetti was ready, my mom would set the table, and we would sit down around it in the nook my dad built for us. It was just like sitting down in the booths you might see in a restaurant. I will always remember those meals we had together.


I’m From


I’m from chicken and French fries.
I’m from the 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS coupe.
I’m from a family who spent Christmas Eve watching old movies.
I’m from ancestors Jim and Effie Barrett.
I’m from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Edward Stephens

Thoughts of Nature


Brisk winds
Bright sky
Ducks flying by
Turning leaves
Full moons
Warm sun
Groundhogs popping up out of the ground
Snow falling
Boats in water
Looking into a meadow from above
Newborn calves
Fresh air

Edward Stephens

I’m From


I’m from fried chicken and green beans on Saturday night.
I’m from military dirt and mud, chigger bites and bugs.
I’m from vacations to Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana.
I’m from “Turn off the light and shut the door! You’re letting the warm air out.”
I’m from Uncle George, who slept with his feet outside the covers and smoked cigars.
I’m from Germantown, Tennessee, at the end of the good old days.

Chris Turk

What I Carry


The one thing I try to always carry is a medallion that has a cross on one side and a Bible verse on the reserve side. It reads, “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.” It is a very important reminder of who my Boss really is, and a reminder of who the person is that has kept me alive all this time. He has given me life, two strong boys, a great wife, and a truly blessed life. A whole lot more than I deserve.

Chris Turk

Sandy’s Candies


In my home state of Pennsylvania, I used to have a business called Sandy’s Candies with my friend Barb Abrams. We made all kinds of candy—at the top of the list were peanut butter cups. We also made chocolate-covered pretzels, nut rolls, cream cheese mints, and lollipops. We went to craft fairs, where we sold our candy. Every year, there was a big Christmas farm show in Harrisburg. Since I moved to Texas, my friend carries the candy business on her own.



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