Tag Archives: These are some of the things that preserve the memory of my parents for me

to note and wonder at each precise fact or thing


… the genius of the United States is … always most in the common people. Their manners speech dress friendships—the freshness and candor of their physiognomy—the picturesque looseness of their carriage . . . the fluency of their speech their delight in music, the sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul . . . their good temper and openhandedness

— Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass, first edition (1855)


EMILY: Good-by. Good-by, world. Good-by, my beautiful town … Mama and Papa. Good-by to … clocks ticking and … Mama’s sunflowers. And … food and … coffee. And … new-ironed dresses and … hot baths … and sleeping and waking. Oh, Earth! You’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

– Thornton Wilder, Our Town



To note and wonder at each precise fact or thing about individual persons.

My parents, for instance:

baked apples

cinnamon toast


scalloped oysters

Christmas decorations and stockings

Christmas carols

trimming the tree

Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D

Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus

Beethoven’s piano sonata no. 27, opus 90

Jordan Marsh department store at Christmastime

Christmas candles


Easter eggs

snow shovels

snow tires and snow tire chains

Massachusetts beaches

Cape Cod



Hiawatha and Evangeline

George Gershwin

the Gospels

Protestant hymns

My Fair Lady, Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Brigadoon


coffee ice cream (my mother)

ginger snaps

autumn leaves

pork strips (Chinese takeout food)

the Late Show

the funny pages (my father)

electric blankets

highballs, gin and tonics

chocolate pudding

Twenty Questions



clotheslines (my mother)

the four seasons

birthday parties and presents

gift giving

letters, cards, and thank you notes


a summer cottage



coal bins

blueberry pancakes

French toast


steam irons, ironing boards


fountain sodas; cherry or vanilla Cokes

frozen orange juice

fried and steamed clams


gum drops

hot chocolate

raisin bread

apple pie

corn bread



grape jelly

wax sealed jars

strawberry jam

pop up toasters

lawn mowing

trees (birch, beach)



These are some of the things that preserve the memory of my parents for me. Of others.

I regard it as not worthwhile to comb through the past looking for faults, which all of us have or had. The faults make us human, mean that we are so. Faults of our loved ones and ancestors. When they are or were alive, we have or had to deal with their faults. It is a somewhat different thing when we are talking about departed persons who were close to us.


— Roger W. Smith

  June 2023