Our Town – May 2022

The Soupster learns a questionable memory aid.

The Soupster learns a questionable memory aid.

“Yo, Ruth, how’s it goin’?” called the Soupster to his next door neighbor in his best booming helmsman’s voice.

“Well, Soupster, it’s goin’ okay, I guess, but I am feeling a little quiet right now. I was just thinking about my dad.”

“I remember your dad, Ruth  – he was quite a character.”

“That he was, Soupster. That he was. And I often start thinking about him this time of year, because he used to engineer some crazy ideas when everybody started gearing up for Spring and the fishing season.”

“I didn’t realize your Dad was a big fisherman.”

“He wasn’t,” said Ruth. “But what he was, though, was a big shopper. I used to love to go shopping with him, Soupster. Simple, plain old grocery shopping, or gift shopping, or anything, really.”

“We had this game we used to play. Though it was more of a memory device, actually. Dad eschewed making lists. He would do anything to avoid making a list. So, when I was little, he came up with this alternate memory trick, so that we could remember what we were supposed to buy at the store.”

“Memory trick, hmmnn?” said the Soupster. “How did it work?”

“Well, on the way to the store, we would think of the things we needed to buy, and then we would identify the first letter of each thing. Finally, we would make a sort of word out of all the first letters.”

“Go on,” encouraged the Soupster.

“Okay, well here’s an example. Say we needed Milk and Apples and Tape and Eggs and – oh, say, razors (‘cause when I was a teenager I was religious about shaving my legs). So, then, the word we came up with could be ‘MATER’ – which is sort of a high-toned British word for mother.”

“That’s – errr – fascinating, Ruth. I’ve never heard of anything quite like it.”

“I don’t know about fascinating,” said Ruth. “But it was usually fun, at least when I was a kid.”

“But,” she continued thoughtfully, “Dad’s technique didn’t always work so well. I remember one, mid-May, I think it was, when we were going shopping down near the docks. There were just three things we had to buy. But we were walking and walking, for hours it seemed like, around the store, looking at the shelves. Because, you know, it seemed like everything fit into one of the letters.

“First was L,” she said. “We were passing by the many racks of ‘lures’ – could that have been it? Could ‘lures’ have been what we wanted? Or, wait – over there are flashlights. Maybe ‘lights’ was what we wanted? Or maybe ‘line’?? Spools and spools of different colored nylon and poly line.

“’Grrr… All right,’ said my dad. Let’s move on to the second letter. F. Fishing tackle? Here are all the tackle boxes – plastic, metal, you name it. Is that what we came for? Oooh, there’s the fluorescent hoochies – I love those. Maybe F stands for fluorescent? Gosh, I wish I could remember… And then, there’s letter number 3, which is S. Could that be for Spoons??’ he pondered.

“’Dad, Dad,’ I cried – ‘think of what you just spelled. What are those three letters? L – F – S!! We weren’t trying to remember specific items. We were trying to remember the name of the store!’”


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