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.