Happy Birthday Kevin Bordner – And Other Things I Will Never Forget

I looked at a calendar on a recent Monday morning to see that it was June 14th. Many in the U.S. will recognize that day as Flag Day – a day we are all supposed to fly a flag, I guess. But despite the “Flag Day” notification on my calendar, my first association was with an event that was not printed there – it was Kevin Bordner’s birthday.

Who is Kevin Bordner, you may ask? Kevin was my next door neighbor and best friend during our early childhood years. Life was like that back in the baby boom years – you were just as likely as not to have a kid about your age living next door. Kevin and I were of diffeent temperaments and circumstances – he was the third boy of the family, coming along a good number of years after his two older brothers who were in college when we were maybe 8 years old. I was the oldest in my family and much more introverted.

And as kids who spend almost every summertime day together, we got to know each other’s birthday. Kevin may or may not remember mine, but I sure remember his. I also remember the two Pontiac GTOs his mother drove in the second half of the 1960’s and how she did not come across as the kind of person who could rock a 4 speed the way she did. And how we responded to my pesky little sister who wanted to play with us. We allowed her be an indian in our cowboys and indians event. We promptly tied her to a tree in my front yard then went to Kevin’s house. My mother was, um, let’s go with “not pleased”.

As often happens, Kevin and I grew apart as we got older, with different interests and different circles of friends and I have not seen him in decades. But every year I remember his birthday.

Is anyone familiar with the 1957 Fords where the hardtops electrically folded and retracted back under the decklid? It has been a long time since those were found in the neighborhood grocery store parking lot, but they are still represented at car shows from time to time. Did you know that the highly complicated mechanism that made the thing work required 610 feet of wire? I learned that when reading about those cars one time, probably back in the 1970’s. For reasons known to God alone, I have never forgotten that little factoid. So if you are ever with me at a car show and we see a 1957 Ford Skyliner retractible hardtop, I will probably tell you (in a cooly nonchalant kind of way) that it used 610 feet of wire to power the roof mechanism.

Some time around maybe 1963 or 1964 my mother tired of the decor in the house we had moved into a couple of years before and began painting rooms. She did not, in case you are wondering, ask my opinion on what colors those rooms should be painted. And good for her – what kind of parent patronizes a 4 or 5 year old kid with a “Heeyyyy, buddeeee – what color do you want me to paint your rooooom?” That kind of crap may be the norm today, but it certainly was not when I was a young kid. It’s things like that which made us so tough and resilient.

Despite not having any choice in the matter, I have never been able to forget that my room was painted a gold-ish yellow color called “goldenrod” while my sister’s was painted a shade of light blue called “blue bell”. Neither was what I might have chosen, but they were serviceable paint colors that lasted until maybe 1972 or so when we were absolutely old enough to have an opinion on what color our rooms should be. I remember what we picked (for me, a bolder, darker gold necessitated by the need to match some wallpaper and a bright pink for sis next door) but I have no idea what those colors were called.

Why do I remember the paint colors chosen for me as a tot and not the ones I oh-so-painstakingly-and-with-all-the-teen-angst-I-could-muster chose for myself? I have no idea. Especially when I could recite from memory the color choices on the 1972 Oldsmobiles my mother went shopping for the next year? Again, I have no clue. For those who are curious, she had her heart set on Baroque Gold but it was late in the model year and she settled for Pinehurst Green. Now you know, so you can relax.

Human memory is a funny thing, as we all know. Which explains how I can remember things like the brand name of the furnace in my Grandma’s house (“Bard” – and don’t ask me why it was named after Shakespeare) or the price of a model car kit at my neighborhood Haag Drug store ($2.25) but cannot remember what I have scheduled for tomorrow at work or next weekend at home. This is where Marianne occasionally pipes up with “Do I have to worry about you?” “No” is my reply because it is all written down, which eliminates any need to memorize upcoming events like haircuts or dentist appointments or client meetings.

So while a quick look at tomorrow’s calendar before I leave the office will get me all set for the following day (as in do I need to shave or wear a tie?) I have no need to consult anything at all before answering that it was Meadow Gold Dairy that delivered milk to my childhood home or that the olive green kitchen mixer that neither my sister nor I wanted when my Mother had to leave her home came from the S & H Green Stamp store on North Anthony Boulevard in Fort Wayne, Indiana, right across the parking lot from the Rogers Market that provided most of those stamps. We never shopped at Maloley’s because they gave Top Value stamps, which Mom did not save.

I guess Kevin Bordner’s birthday was the gateway to opening up quite a few useless-but-permanently-occupied areas of my brain. So, Happy birthday, Kevin Bordner – wherever you are.

25 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Kevin Bordner – And Other Things I Will Never Forget

    • I remember the “air door” – I think it is still the only retail place I remember that had one. If it was gone by the time you shopped there, the entry was filled with a constant blast of air from the top that blew down into a grate that covered the entry floor. As I got older I wondered how efficient it was at keeping heat and aircon temp inside and the ambient weather outside. As a little kid, all I wanted to do was stand there and experience the air blast.

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    • Also funny is that some things from that period have disappeared. There is no way I could name every kid from my early grade school classes in the way that was probably possible once upon a time.

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  1. I read somewhere that as you age, you start to remember events and situations from your youth, while short term memory goes out the window! That’s what’s happening to me, starting to remember stuff from my early teens that I hadn’t thought of in years. I’m amazed that those memories for you have always been there, like your pals birthday! BTW, Skyliner had 7 separate motors running that top, and according to a car guy I knew, was never dependable!

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    • Yes, memory is a funny thing, the way your mind can record a scene or an event and preserve it for the rest of your life, like the inside of a grandparent’s house or such. On that Ford Skyliner, I think they hit the outer limit for the level of complexity that was viable for a gadget on a regular production car.

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  2. One of my good friends from high school has a birthday exactly one week different than mine. Over 40 years I have always remembered that, but have never been able to remember if it’s a week before or after. This year he called me on my birthday to remind me I’m an old man compared to him, so I guess it’s a week later. I will forget this by next year as always.

    Happy birthday Kevin! 🥳

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    • That is similar to another friend’s birthday. I had trouble remembering it until I linked it to my Mother’s birthday. For a few years I thought I recalled that both he and Mom shared a birthday, but he corrected me. So that birthday was within maybe 3 days of my Mom’s but I always struggled with which direction the offset went.

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  3. Isn’t it amazing what we can remember? Somebody once said a person’s brain is like a hard drive and could use some defragmenting after a while. However, I think what one remembers are those things important to them at the time, like the colors of the 1972 Olds line. Really, remembering this is more enriching than remembering what you are doing at work tomorrow; you go to work much more often than Olds releases a car line.

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    • And the way different people remember different kinds of stuff. Some people are great with sports events or stats. Marianne is fabulous at remembering who is/was related to whom and how, while those things never stuck with me. I prefer to remember things that are completely useless. 🙂

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  4. I seem to recall (?) that Dr. Sanjay Gupta addressed something similar in his Keep Sharp – Building a Better Brain – an interesting book I read a few months ago and have already forgotten most of other than we all must exercise, but I can still tell you the birthdays of my four cousins who lived next door to us on the farm. Yesterday I was making strawberry freezer jam, which calls for dissolving the pectin in apple juice, and had a flashback to being in the hospital when a child for tonsils and a nun (the hospital was a St. Joseph’s), made me drink apple juice instead of the chocolate milk I wanted, and I’ve hated apple juice ever since! So the remainder of the container got poured down the sink. Yes, memory is a funny thing. I think as we grow older we run out of storage space and have to start to delete stuff, so the recent or more unimportant stuff goes out first. I know five years after retiring that I have difficulty with some of the drug names and usages and I may be reading a drug newsletter which I still do 3 times a week and have to google, and then it comes back…oh yea. There was always such a flood of drugs coming on the market, that if you didn’t dispense it often it was hard to retain. Use it or lose it!

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    • It’s the same way in law. I have a great memory for some of the little arcane rules and cases in areas where I do a lot of work. But where my practice has moved on I have forgotten them. Or they have been changed or superseded in some way. Keeping up with the new stuff can be a chore, but a necessary one.

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  5. My first wife asked our oldest what color he wanted his room and he said “dark green with black trim.” I said aw heck no but, as usual in that marriage, she ignored me and did it anyway. It was straight up awful, and was nearly impossible to paint over when it was time to sell the house.

    I am a benevolent dictator dad. Do things my way, and things will go well for you in my home!

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    • Haha, you remind me of a nugget I picked up from my own mother. It irritated her to no end when a parent would be engaged in some kind of discipline and end the sentence with “OK?” She knew instinctively that when you mean business as a parent, there is nothing even remotely like a question involved. 🙂

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  6. It is funny what will trigger a memory or what things we remember without working at it. I’m not on social media but it might be a way to get to say hi to your old friend. Now you’ve set me thinking about bygone days…

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  7. How nice to take a trip down memory lane and how fun if the two of you could reconnect again after all these years. I’ve read many times how a scent can take you back to an earlier time in your life, be it your Grandma’s Sunday pot roast, or the mucilage glue you used on a book report. It’s nicer when your mind can recall memories just like watching the old slides or movie reels.

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      • JP- we only have one high school in Lincoln Park and a few weeks ago, I was driving behind a car with the acronym “LPHS” and also “2021” in orange and blue painted all over the car. I was immediately transported back to June 1973 and my five close friends and me riding in Sheila’s father’s Gran Torino with our names scrawled all over in those same school colors. I pictured us yelling out the window at classmates and honking madly, all that fun and frivolity of 48 years ago.

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  8. A much younger colleague used to have answers to all kinds of trivia questions and pop culture details. When I asked him “How do you remember all these things?”, he gave me a cheeky smile and said “Now ask me something important.” 🙂

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  9. I still remember the birthdays of each of a half-dozen childhood girlfriends. What is the hidden meaning in THAT? Every year a given date rolls by and I’ll think, “Oh yeah, today is so-and-so’s birthday”. More importantly though (much more importantly), “Kevin Bordner” is a great name. So often I’ll begin a novel and the author will introduce a character and I’ll think, “Nobody EVER had that name in real life.” That aspect of writing can be annoying enough to just give up on the book.

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    • Half a dozen childhood girlfriends – what was your secret? 😀

      That’s a good point about names in fiction. But sometimes real names are worse. When I was in high school a buddy got in a fender bender. He thought it was hilarious to deal with an insurance adjuster named Roman Matchmuck. It kind of was – something else I’ve never forgotten.

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