An Odd Memory from 1961

One morning last week, as I was trying to concentrate on my devotional readings for the day, an odd memory popped into my mind, totally out of the blue.

cream cartonMy mom was buying groceries at the IGA on Main Street in Cambridge. The check-out clerk was a high school student, an older sister of one of my friends. My mom said to the clerk, “Is there any way I can know for sure that this carton of whipping cream is good? The last carton I bought here was sour?” (This was before the days of “use by …” dates.) The clerk seemed concerned and puzzled. She shook the carton and looked at it carefully. Then she opened it up and held it up to her nose and sniffed it. “It smells good to me.” Then she handed it over to my mom to sniff. My mom was surprised and a little upset that she had actually opened up the carton. Now how would she get the carton home without it spilling? But she didn’t say anything, other than “Okay.”

That’s it. That’s the memory. I can’t even remember for sure if I was actually there at the IGA with my mom, or if she just told me about the incident when she got home. Either way, the memory was vivid. In 1961 I was a 13-year-old. The incident seems pretty insignificant. But one morning last week, the memory was keeping me from thinking about anything else. I had a very hard time concentrating on my devotional readings. Odd.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year I’m beginning my devotional time every morning by reading one of my favorite Sarah Young reflections, which starts out with Jesus saying to me, “Sit quietly in my presence while I bless you. Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it.” [Jesus Calling ©2004 Sarah Young]

Was this memory a thought that Jesus actually dropped into my mind? Or was it just a weird distraction? I don’t recall ever thinking about this incident since it happened 53 years ago. The memory certainly came “out of the blue.”

I’m still thinking about what the significance of this story might be? Maybe it’s a reminder to pray for my friend’s sister – someone I haven’t seen or thought about in a long time – not since she came to Cambridge for her father’s funeral a few years ago. Maybe it’s an encouragement to consider the most obvious solutions to problems I’m facing today, even if not everyone approves of what I consider to be the obvious solutions. Or, maybe it’s the reverse, to consider the far-reaching implications of what might appear to be an obvious solution to a problem. Maybe it’s a prompt for me to write this post to remind you of odd memories that would be good for you to think about today.

Do you have any thoughts about this? About my odd memory? Or, about any odd memories that have popped into your mind – out of the blue?

"Out of the blue ... "
“Out of the blue … “



4 responses to “An Odd Memory from 1961”

  1. Carol (Wegner) Nelson Avatar
    Carol (Wegner) Nelson

    Admittedly, I often have odd thoughts that do their best to creep into my private meditation time with God. Sometimes it’s very difficult to stop the wandering thoughts… I do think of you often as I find your insight and faith to be inspirational in my personal life. Just want to say “thank you”.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I’m glad we’ve re-connected over the Internet. If you’re ever in Cambridge again, let’s get together over coffee.

  2. I love the “Out of the blue” picture, the quote about sitting quietly, and the picture of Grandma with her open-carton dilemma! As to the nagging thought, I relate and have no doubt God was speaking to you :-).

  3. Margaret Hawkins Avatar
    Margaret Hawkins

    My comment isn’t going to be deep or insightful, but I just have to respond to the IGA clerk’s solution to your mom’s question, “Is this cream good?” I frequently get asked if the milk in the church refridgerator is OK to serve (the expiration date is almost here…). I always answer, “How does it smell?” I usually get funny looks, silence, or the person asks someone else! Sometimes problems have easy answers, but we are not always prepared to accept them. I do love your wonderings about why this seemingly insignificant memory popped into your head, however…Also, the picture of the milk carton took me back to 1st grade when we had milk and graham crackers at our desks…

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