Got a letter from the Manhattan High reunion committee; they're preparing the 40th reunion of the Class of 1967. The head of the committee added a personal note at the end of the form letter, which has given my memory cells a true workout.
Here's the note:
"Hi David - saw Mr. Guest recently - he always asks about you - we laugh about the 'Applesauce' sign." --- Linda.
I remember Linda, the head of the committee. She wasn't among the nerds or hoods, so I didn't spend much time with her, though I knew just about everyone in the class on a speaking basis. Linda was one of those nice solid mature types who clearly wouldn't change much upon reaching adulthood.
The rest is more puzzling. Mr. Guest was the sixth grade teacher at Lee School; he was about 40 then, so he must be about 85 now.
Linda's reference to Mr. Guest without explanation or context would indicate that she was in the same class.
But what in the world was the "Applesauce sign"?
After digging through piles of dusty neurons, I finally caught a glimmer of the event. Mr. Guest liked to have the students prepare and recite speeches, debates, and poems. I remember the poetry sharply because it required hard and satisfying work, but the speeches have faded from lack of recharging through the years. For one of those speeches, I decided it would be funny to use Applause and Laughter signs at appropriate points, and I must have finished off with an "Applesauce" sign replacing the "Applause". It must have been funny at the time, at least by 6th-grade standards!
What's really strange about all of this is the realization that somebody else remembers part of my life better than I do.
"I was there, so I should remember it best" seems like common sense, but it obviously isn't. In this case, the last year of plain uncomplicated childhood was probably swamped out by the next three years of extreme stress (i.e. puberty and junior high).