Memories… Sweetened Through the Ages by Sherrie Hansen

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “old  days” this week. My bed and breakfast, the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House, in St. Ansgar, Iowa, has been open for 20 years as of February 1st, which was also my 55th birthday. It’s definitely a time to think back, to remember what things were like those many years ago.

Memories are a funny thing. I learned in Childhood Psych that 90% of a child’s brain and 85% of their social skills and personality develop before they are 5 years old. Yet most of us have very few memories of anything that happened to us in this time period.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are sleeping out under the stars with my dad and my sister Becky, on the farm where we lived in Grand Meadow, Minnesota, when we were little. I can remember Marty Hedstrom, a teenager who worked for my Dad one summer, singing “Sherry Baby” to me and rescuing me from the bumblebees who were after me in the haymow of the barn where I used to play.  I can remember standing next to my Great Grandma Matilda Paulson  and my Grandma Victoria at  First Baptist Church singing “Holy Holy Holy”.  I can remember climbing on the school bus on the first day I went to school, the day my baby brother and sister were born, and the day my Grandpa Hansen died. Some of these experiences have already ended up in or certainly may one day find themselves into books I’ve written – in one form or another.

My 25 year old nephew and his pretty wife, Kayla, sang “Sherry Baby” to me this weekend at my birthday / anniversary party. What a flood of memories it brought back! Because I don’t have children of my own, my nieces and nephews are very special to me. I hope that I have made an impact on their lives as well, and that they will carry memories of me and the fun times we’ve shared at the Blue Belle Inn and our family gatherings with  them long after I’m gone.

My 5, 7 and 10 year old nieces and nephews were at my party, too. The girls helped get people registered for the door prizes. The two youngest were waitress and waiter and helped clear plates and take them to the kitchen. They were very intense about collecting the dirty plates (Will you please hurry up and finish eating your food so I can take your plate?) and did their jobs well.

I will have to give them some tips next time I see them. (They had to leave early because it was past their bedtime.) Right before they left, the girls entertained us by singing our favorite song, “He Knows My Name,” while I played the piano.

My hope is that they will retain their memories of the very special night they shared with their old Aunt Sherrie at the Blue Belle Inn. Maybe one of them will blog about it one day when they’ve heard “Sherry Baby” played on the radio… er… computer.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have children, but it’s important to me that someone remembers that I’m not just Blue Belle Sherrie (the main hat I’ve worn for the past 20 years). I want someone to know and remember that I climbed Pike’s Peak when I was younger, that I learned to disco dance when I lived in Germany back in the late seventies at the height of the Saturday Night Fever era. I want someone to remember that I went to Wheaton College, and saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller concert at Mile High Stadium in Denver and spent a night at a Benedictine Monastery in Bavaria. And that I made the best Jaeger Schnitzel and Spaetzle noodles this side of the great pond.

I hope you have some sweet memories, too – perhaps something you’ve read in one of my books has evoked a recollection or brought tears to your eyes. I also wish for each of you someone who knows you and loves you enough to remember unique things about you.

Thanks for letting me be nostalgic on the occasion of my big birthday and anniversary. Andrew Lloyd Webber says it well…

All alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again.

And if you’re a child of the seventies like I am, I’m sure this song conjurers up the very thing it talks about…

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine

Quiet thoughts come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories

Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilights trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you.

Some of my favorite memories – and ones that will almost certainly die with me, since all my friends from that era are my age or older – are of the 12 years I lived in Colorado Springs. During that time, I heard Amy Grant sing this song in concert three or four times. From the song “I Will Remember You”…

Later on
When this fire is an ember
Later on
When the night’s not so tender
Given time
Though it’s hard to remember darlin’
I will be holding
I’ll still be holding to you
I will remember you

So many years come and gone
And yet the memory is strong
One word we never could learn
True love is frozen in time
I’ll be your champion and you will be mine
I will remember you

Being a writer, I’ve always thought that stories are the best way to share memories. I hope one day, you’ll read mine.

Happy Birthday to me. Cheers to 20 years at the Blue Belle Inn. And a toast to memories that live on forever in the minds of the those who love us.

(Sherrie Hansen is the author of 4 books:  Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.)


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing

8 responses to “Memories… Sweetened Through the Ages by Sherrie Hansen

  1. Dearest Sherrie, I just read your article and boy did it touch my heart! I too am a child of the 60’s and 70’s and your article evoked a lot of childhood memories. I remember catching lightning bugs is mason jars. I conjured dormant remembrances of afternoon winter snowball fights and playing dress up with the neighborhood kids in late autumn evenings. I just wanted to say thank you for your musings as it brought back quite a few of my own. BTW, I sent you a friend request on FB and hope you will except. Thanks again. Wishing you all the best life has to offer. May God Bless you abundantly in all your endeavors always,
    Betina Blanford

    • Sherrie Hansen

      Just wanted to say I like your memories – especially the lightning bugs. Me, too! It’s fun how one memory sparks another. It’s so fun to reminisce.

  2. Rod Marsden

    Also being a writer I would agree with you that stories are the best way of sharing the past with people of the present. James A Mitchener probably thought so when he wrote Hawaii. In his novels Mark Twain kept alive the river boats, the great paddle boat streamers and a whole way of life that came to an end. Through young people is also a good way. You help forge memories worth keeping with them and they will remember. I remember my dad taught me all about the Southern Cross when I was young. The Southern Cross is a star formation only found in the southern hemisphere at night. The smell of food especially prepared can kick pleasant memories into gear and I don’t doubt that this has happened with the Blue belle Inn though how many people it has happened to you may never know.

    • Sherrie Hansen

      Thanks, Rod. I wonder when Mark Twain wrote about paddle boat steamers if he knew they would be all but extinct one day, and that he was helping to immortalize them? I wonder what things in our books will have the same fate?

  3. What a wonderful blog post. You certainly will be remembered when you have stories to tell and tell them in print! Happy, happy birthday!

  4. Happy, happy to you for both milestones. Thanks for sharing your memories and highlights from your celebration. Now I’m hungry for spaetzle, though!
    My memories go back to age three, and I have a surprising number of them. Maybe because we were in my birth house until the month before I turned four. I remember my brother’s cub scout meeting and birthday party Telling my mother my baby sister had woken up and having her ask me if I woke her up–there were a bunch of ladies there for a meeting. I remember watching a little orphan Annie cartoon on TV, and it scared me because her eyes were out. I remember our little playroom, and taking baths in our old-fashioned footed bathtub, and hiding in the space between the stove and the cupboard. And a bunch more events. Plus, I can envision each room–but they were much bigger than when I went back there as a teenager.

    • Sherrie Hansen

      What great memories, Chris! You have very impressive retention skills! My sister’s memory is much sharper than mine – I claim it’s because she’s always lived within an hour of home, whereas I have lived all over the world, and with each new place, had my brain waves assaulted with new information to the point where I just can’t retain it all. I know what you mean about things seeming bigger as a kid…

      • I’m not sure why my three-year-old memories are so vivid–I can only think it’s because we were building that new house, and leaving our old one. I can’t tell you much about being four!

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