When you think back to your childhood, what do you remember most?
Sure, there are the happy memories, like the annual trip to Kings Dominion or waking up on Christmas morning or the time the snow was so deep that we made tunnels through it.
But I tend to remember things in color. In textures. In visuals.
It comes and goes like flashbacks. An I remember that! moment quickly followed by an anxious search on Googles images to just catch a glimpse of that memory once more.
I don’t know why I’m so nostalgic but sometimes I feel like I’m trying to find and buy everything I had growing up and then eventually longed to get rid of. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to just look and remember the colors of your childhood.
Pink is the color of the dishes we had. Made by Mikasa, and designed in the 1970s by Ben Seidel, they look so hip and retro now. Did we have cool dishes and I never even knew it? For me, the joy was in slurping my mother’s spaghetti out of the pink bowls and licking every last bit of buttery tomato sauce from the sides. It was feeling the looped top of the sugar bowl as I ate a bowl of Cheerios every morning before school. It was sipping soup out of the special pink mugs when we were sick, because soup from a mug tastes so much cooler than soup from a bowl.
Gold was a defining color for kitchen appliances in the 1970s and by that definition, we were certainly in style. Not only did we have a gold electric range, dishwasher, and refrigerator, but that gold was complimented by the darkened edges that seem to give it more depth. And it also coordinated beautifully with our stained oak cabinets and our faux butcher block countertops.
Green, green, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways. The sueded green chair in the living room (where I snuck and drew all over the back with a green magic marker). The pale green, heavily lined drapes in the living room that coordinated perfectly with our blue and green floral couch. The bright green color of my favorite pole lamp that stood in my bedroom for years. The olive green screen on our console television when, every once in a while, the TV was turned off. Green was a good color for my childhood.
Orange was the color of my very first pair of flip flops. My mother never could stand to have sandal that went between her toes but she finally gave in and let all of us kids have our own pair. We all had our own color but I proudly remember mine: textured white top, soon to be browned by the soles of my feet, with an orange backing and rubber orange straps. It was also the color of the very first vehicle that I didn’t own but had permission to drive. It had no radio and it backfired all the time but the 1977 Cherokee Chief was good to me.
Blue was the featured color in my bedroom when I was finally old enough to get my very own bedding set. After years of using my sister’s hand-me-down ABC123 curtain and bedspread set, I proudly displayed my “Singing in the Rain” curtains, bedspread, and frilly pillow sham. Patterned with blue checkered edging, it went beautifully with my royal blue shag carpeting. We also had a 1963 Chevy Station Wagon we semi-affectionately called The Blue Bomb.
Copper was the color I associated with the staples in our house. We had copper salt and pepper shakers (we still have a photo of me famously licking that salt shaker; I’ve been a salt lover ever since), copper canisters housing flour, sugar, and whatever else you’re supposed to put in those other canisters. But it wasn’t until I was wandering through a flea market and saw my mother’s copper cake taker that I realized what an important color this was in my childhood.
Yellow wasn’t prominent in my childhood until my dad got his first company car. It was a 1983 Nissan Sentra wagon. Not only was it a new car (something that was non-existent in my childhood) but it also had… a car phone! We were living large in yellow.
Technically, white is the absence of all color but white was the color of my grandma’s icebox, that she still called an icebox. It was a dingy white but I always knew behind the handle was a can of Hi-C waited to be wiped off and opened up. She’d always put it away covered with a piece of wax paper and a rubber band. White was a happy color for me.
As I sort through so many colors of my childhood, I realize that it wasn’t just the things that bring me back. It was the emotion that corresponded with each color. Happiness, warmth, security, mischief, style.
As I look around at my warmly-chosen earth tone colors of my house, I wonder what memories my son will have of his childhood and the colors that surround him.
Tell me about some of your more colorful memories from your childhood!