Our unshared memories

One of the containers that I’ve moved with for the past 20 years or so is a red milk crate monogrammed H.P. Hood and Sons.

Hood was ubiquitous in my childhood, as was that crate, or other crates like it.

I only recently learned that Hood, while it produces some products for Hershey’s and Blue Diamond, is very much a regional company. Its reached stopped at New England for most of its time (Harvey Perley Hood started it in 1846), and now it distributes into New York as well, largely spurred, no doubt, by the fact that Agway owned it for about 15 years.

Hood was frequently the brand of milk we had in the house, and ice cream, too, along with occasionally sour cream or cottage cheese. The logo was and remains very simple — an oval, filled red with “Hood” printed inside in white letters.

The fact that Hood is a regional company means that most of you have never had a Hoodsie cup, which is astonishing to me, and your childhood was the worse for it. I mean, I’m sure you had wonderful ice cream treats, but if you were raised on rocket pops and king cones, you don’t know what you’re missing.

They’re very simple confections, really: chocolate and vanilla ice cream, sold in a waxed cardboard cup, with a similarly constructed lid that you pulled off via a tiny attached tab. They came with a wooden spoon and even if you were eating them at home, no way were you getting a spoon from the silverware drawer.

They later added sundaes with chocolate, strawberry or butterscotch inserted into vanilla ice cream in a star pattern.

It’s amazing what we retain from our youth.

In my memory, that milk crate hails from Murphy’s Pop Shop, which only just closed earlier this year.

Murphy’s was a short walk from our house, and as soon as we were old enough to responsibly cross a busy street with the light, we were allowed to go there. In addition to being a small convenience store, they had a small arcade in back, a penny candy shop upstairs, and a small diner that sold, among other things, a foot-long hot dog. When penny candy went out of style, they expanded the diner upstairs.

For a while, a small bakery would bring a small number of loaves of star-shaped Italian bread over and we’d rush over on Friday to make sure we had one for the weekend; Sunday was usually kids-help-Dad-make-sauce day.

They also used to sell craft soda in glass bottles, and they’d take the bottles back to be cleaned and refilled. These would come to the house in the milk crates. Of course, “craft” sodas are a new thing — back then they were alternatives to the name brands, and came in flavors like lime and orange and cream and root beer.

I, of course, have no idea how accurate my memory is, but I’m fairly sure I’m reasonably good.

There are plenty of memories from our childhoods we’d consider “shared memories.” Even if we didn’t grow up in the same place, people born in 1976, like I was, will largely remember some of the cartoons that were specific to our generation (“He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” “Voltron” and “Thundercats” among them). We’ll remember the toys — Transformers, GI Joe, maybe Lincoln Logs — and perhaps some other cultural markers (caps in red rolls, The Cosby Show, Lite Brite).

We’ll also have shared memories based on the kind of kids we were. Chemistry sets. Sharing, symbolically, bar and bat mitzvahs with Soviet children who weren’t allowed to practice Judaism. Cultural markers like Tienanmen, Rodney King, OJ Simpson, Phish, AIDS, Social Distortion, Jumanji (the book), Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, The Karate Kid and Parental Advisory stickers on cassette tapes (thanks, Tipper Gore!).

And then there are the memories we share specifically with our friends and family — arcade games at Murphy’s, Frankie & Johnnie pizza, playing hockey in the lot behind Notre Dame school.

But as adults, we have memories from childhood we have no idea we don’t share with the people around us as we move around. Hoodsies were that for me.

What’s something from your childhood that I need to know about?


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