Memories that won’t stop replaying

By John Toth

I still remember the eggs and bacon sizzling on the grill as the rain poured down outside our tent. I wrapped them in a slice of white bread because we forgot the tortillas.
I pulled the small stove to the front of the tent, sort of half way in and out, just enough to keep it semi dry. I was going to cook breakfast on the park bench, like the morning before, but then the rain started.
My two sons, Bobby and Johnny, were still in grade school. My daughter, Stephanie, was too little and stayed home with her mom, who really wasn’t too thrilled about spending the weekend in a tent. We were camping in a state park – tent, bikes, stove, food … the works.
The rain subsided, the skies cleared, and it turned out to be a nice day for camping. Had it not rained that morning, it would have been just another breakfast at the state park, not that special breakfast inside the tent with that special smell.
The tent is long gone, and the boys have grown up. But memories of that smell of bacon and eggs inside the big blue tent remain. For years, the boys kept saying that was the best break fast they ever ate … turkey bacon, eggs and bread.
These are the small things that stay with you like a good movie, each scene getting better with age as it is replayed and retold. They are not the most important events in my life. The birth of my children, getting married, vacations, graduations, etc., are all recorded also. And, it’s not like a video recording. It only lives in the mind and comes alive with words.
They are handed down to the next generation, and perhaps the one after. Eventually, like everything else, it gets lost, perhaps replaced by other scenes just as precious, relived by sons and daughters to hand down for a few more generations.
There was nothing special about that breakfast except for the circumstance, the memories it generated. It cannot be planned out. It has to fall together all by itself. When the pieces of the event form a perfect circle in the mind, it becomes special.
My mother’s memories of WWII and the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 still live in my mind.
She died in 1986, but the movies play on. We spent many afternoons talking about what she and her family went through, the close calls with death, the funny stories, her encounters with the Nazi troops that occupied the country for a while and with the Russian troops that replaced them. Her stories about my grandfather, who died just before WWII, have stayed with me all these years.
And she told me about some special times I had no way of remembering because I was too young, things I did that she would never forget until the day she died. Now those events are in my memory until I die.
I have been telling my children some of these stories, but find that it is now harder to just sit down and talk. With all of the technological diversions and friends, not much time is left for story telling.
I’ll probably wind up just writing it all down one of these days for the kids to read whenever they get a chance. Perhaps one day, while opening up an old computer file, they will come across a few stories that will jolt their memories.
I loaned that blue tent to a former friend who never returned it. I was trying to help her out, and I hope she put it to good use. I have since replaced the tent with an RV, where I have recreated the breakfast scene many times over. I admit, it’s not the same, but now I like air conditioning and a microwave when I camp.
But the tent is not important, nor the RV. It’s that special memory carved in the mind – that’s important.
Every now and then, when I smell bacon cooking in the morning, I am back in that state park, huddling in the tent with two little boys around me. That breakfast, as it turned out, was special, indeed.
If you have a special memory like mine and would like to tell our readers, email it to me at