Thursday, September 3, 2009

My List of Memories...

I have compiled a list of some of my favorite memories that I have revisited in my mind over the years. Some of you may recognize them and even remember doing the very same thing as a child. I hope they bring back some of your own memories.

1. Buying candy/taffy pieces from food carts that came through town. Taking the taffies and placing them into ladles to heat them over coal, and twirling the taffy until hardened enough to eat. There were so many kinds of taffies. Some taffies you could press a design out prior to eating when it was in the cooling process.

2. There is Pong Tweegi, the large round popped rice cakes. They spoon a little into a machine that when heated, it expands and releases making a loud popping sound. End product, you have a large round flat popped rice cake with a slight sweet flavor. It is every child's favorite. The Pong Tweegi, we still find in the Korean Supermarkets here.

3. Sweet steamed bean buns. In Korea, I remember carts that came around selling these buns and now, we can go to the Korean markets and buy them frozen or sometimes you can buy them fresh right out of a steamer.

4. Steamed snails. Vendors would come around selling steamed snails in a cone. I remember my father buying them for me on our little walks.

5. Playing marbles the way it should be done. With little dug out holes in dirt and flicking the marble with your thumb watching the marble roll across the dirt to hit another into the holes.

6. Playing with Korean paper dolls. I used to pass these paper dolls every time we were in the market. I remember, one day while shopping with my sister, I slipped a paper doll booklet into another book that my sister had purchased. I remember feeling I deserved the extra booklet since I could not have it any other way.
7. Paper Squares. I cannot remember the name of this game but know that traditionally boys played it. Like origami, you fold the piece of paper until you have a square. Flat on one surface and the other would be the folded side. You are suppose to throw it down trying to flip the opponents piece that is already lying down on the ground. If the other piece flips than you win their piece. I remember running through the narrow streets, climbing up on the walls and flipping them down to win the other players pieces. It was a boys game but being a tomboy I was accepted into their games. We would run through the streets with our bags full of game pieces, showing them off to others, especially, if we collected some interesting ones or big ones.

8. Counting game among girls to see how many babies you will have. To play this game, you must be a girl. What you want to do is take your hand and make a fist. Have your palm side facing up. Then, you want to press down the exposed part of your palm above your wrist until little bumps appear up on top of your wrist. Now count. However many bumps you count is the amount of babies you will have.

9. Collecting shiny buttons. I believe it was when I lived with my foster mother. There were trails that led to some garbage/dirt piles that had many different shapes and sizes of shiny plastic buttons and shiny plastic round discs (Chiclets).

10. Sitting around blowing bubblegum with girls. Listening to my eldest sister crack her gum very loud in her mouth and thinking she was amazing.

11. Sneaking into movie theaters with my girl friend or perhaps, sisters.

12. Braiding leaf stems into each others hair. A memory of my girlfriend and I that I will call Muri.

13. Going to Korean Bath houses with my eldest sister and I believe my nephew when he was only a baby. Remembering how it was an awesome and yet awkward experience. I remember, when you first walked in, you could either go right or left depending on your sex. There was a little square window that sat too high for me to see into. When you walk in, you can see wall to wall tiles with fountains that squirted water out all around the floors and walls of the room. It was steamy and very hot in the room. And yes, everyone was naked.

14. Lining up in front of our houses to wait for the medical van to come and give us our Small Pox shots. Makes it into my favorite memories since it is one that has been discussed a lot in my childhood and had made a scar on my shoulder that appears like a a little heart.

15. I remember walking down a little dirt road that led me down to a small building with a long pole that sat in front of the building. Up on the top of this pole was a Korean Flag. I would sit down under this flag and try to draw the most beautiful Korean Flag. I loved drawing the Korean Flag as a child.

16. Seeing my eldest sister dance to Barbara Streisand outside of her friends house on a clear sunny day. If you stood outside of this house, you could see down the road to where a small overpass met the street.

17. Two American things I knew of and loved prior to coming to the States. They were Wonder Woman and Barbara Streisand.

18. Korean puppet shows, The traditional Fan Dance, and Korean Masks. I can still remember how to hum to the music of the Fan Dance.

19. Dancing in a circle in traditional clothing under the moon (Moon Dance) during Korean Harvest season in the Fall.

20. The Korean New Year (I believe it was the New Year celebration). We dressed up in Korean Traditional outfits and went around knocking on neighbors doors. When they answered, we bowed or curtsied to receive coins.

21. The many ways to properly sit, bow, and speak to show different levels of respect. I revisited this memory many times because of how others here has always found this aspect of my past very interesting. Therefore, it kept this memory very intact. Some interesting differences to point out that was misunderstood when young. First, I used to point with my middle finger out. My mother always became embarassed and would scold me. She did not realize that this was customary in Korea. I did not know I was doing anything wrong back in those days..funny now I think about it. How I used to sit with my legs tucked under me in a very upright position. I sat in this manner to watch TV or talk, etc. People and my family thought I was very strange little girl to sit so different and funny. My sister used to make fun and try to get me to sit like her but I believe I sat in this manner for a few months until I relaxed and began to 'fit' into my families routines. Finally, at night, my mother would tuck me in and she would tell me that when she checked on me at night, that she couldn't tell if I was in the bed . I would stay in one position very still all night long. Plus the fact that I was so little, I did not make any wrinkles in the sheets while I slept. I told her when I was older that perhaps it was because in Korea, we ALL slept together in one sleeping comfortor on the Floor Bed.

22. Traditional way to prepare Kimchee and to cook your food on coal pits.

23. Always tried not to forget the big rectangular fridge size rice containers. We would have one in our home to store rice. At the bottom of this rice storage container was a sifter and a lever to pour out rice. We would go into the market and buy huge burlap sized bags of rice and empty it into this container.

24. I always remembered the Korean Subways. I would tell people here in the States that the subways were very different from the ones here in the States. I could not exactly explain how they were different until we had gone there in 2004.

25. One of my favorite memories was sitting on the steps of a temple and watching the monks pray. I could sit there and watch forever. I was fascinated by them and the sounds that came out of these temples.

26. Eating Dukbokki as a child and still loving it!

27. Korean Playing cards. I had forgotten the name for the cards when I was young but learned the name over the years. It is called Hwa-Tu. Below is a letter I wrote in 2004 to my brother in Korea but it had returned as undeliverable. I never got to send it again but on it you can see my drawings of the playing cards.


Diane said...

I loved reading your Memory list! You are beautiful and your writing is too :) Oh- and my wrist says two children and I have two!

kyungmee said...

Diane, thank you so much. My wrist tells me three and I have two! I wonder?

윤선 said...

You're really lucky to have memories of Korea. I was adopted as soon as I was born, really, so I (obviously) can't remember a thing about it...

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