Tag Archive for: childhood memories

Halcyon Days

I write a mystery series set in 1974. In 1974, I was seven.
Don’t do the math. Please.
Readers frequently ask me how I get so much right.
There are several answers. The first is that I bought myself
more magazines from 1974 than anyone in 2016 should own. The second is that
MeTV is my forever friend. The third is more difficult. Even though I was
seven, I remember more than seems possible.
Especially in the summertime.
Much has been made of 70s’ style parenting of late—blogs making
fun of smoking, drinking, neglectful mothers. That I don’t remember.
I do remember being set loose to play in the neighborhood.
Nightly games of kick-the-can and hide-and-seek. Bomb pops that melted down my
arm. Bologna sandwiches and carrot sticks (not miniature carrots but actual
carrots cut into sticks) for lunch. Sunburn on my nose and shoulders. The
pass-throughs in backyards used as secret short-cuts from block to block. Packs
of kids on bikes—all without helmets. Zinc oxide on those sunburned noses. A
summer breeze floating sheer curtains as I curled up with Nancy Drew after a
day in the sun. Halcyon days.
I also remember gas lines, my parents complaining about a 55
miles per hour speed limit, and how jealous I was that my friend Elizabeth’s
parents bought a turquoise AMC Pacer. I remember School House Rock, getting up
with the farm report on Saturday mornings because I wanted to watch cartoons, “You’ve
Come a Long Way, Baby” (but not that far
– the woman is still called Baby), Archie Bunker, Sanford and Son (you mean
being a junk dealer is a real job?), and Kid Dy-No-Mite. I remember driving
across Kansas with the back of the station turned down so my sister and I could
nap (need I add we didn’t wear seat belts? Or, that when you’re seven, Kansas is
infinite). I remember bickering with my sister on those trips (Mom, she’s touching my side), my mother singing
show tunes when we’d passed the point of radio reception, and begging my father
to stop at a gas station pleeease.

I wouldn’t trade a single memory.

I hope your summer is filled with memories. You never know
how you’ll use them.
Julie Mulhern is a USA TODAY bestselling author and Kansas City native. She spends her time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean and she s got an active imagination. Truth is she s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. 

Her latest mystery, Clouds in my Coffee, is available now. 

Some Mystery Related Influences from my Childhood

Many mystery authors attribute reading Nancy Drew mysteries for the writing they do now. I also read Nancy Drew, but looking back, I believe many other things from my childhood had a greater influence on what I do today.

Most of you know I’m much older than all the rest of the contributors to this blog. I grew up during World War II–and when I was about 10 I was convinced I would be asked to be a spy if the enemy landed on our shores. I lived in Los Angeles and we had black-outs, air raid drills at school, and I was highly influenced by the newsreels at the movies.

As for movies, we went every Friday night and stayed for both features. The 2nd one was always a B movie usually about gangsters, but often a mystery. My parents never questioned whether anyting was appropriate for their daughter or her 5 year younger sister.

At home, I listened to the radio faithfully. Having my own radio (a Christmas present) in my room meant I heard nearly every episode of all the mystery shows: The Whistler, Suspense Theater, The Adventures of Sam Spade, The Shadow, Inner Sanctum.

My little Philco radio also picked up police calls–which I was forbidden to listen to, once my mom found out about them. However, I still listened to them at night–and I heard the reports when the Black Dahlia’s body was found. Gave me nightmares for weeks.

My family subscribed to three newspapers: The L.A. Times, The Herald Examiner and The Daily News. I don’t think my dad ever read them–but my mother did. The Daily News had the most gossip and “best” photos. The articles I remember most were about the Black Dahlia murder and also the murder of Lana Turner’s boyfriend–by her daughter. Any death reported in their pages always carried the lurid details and graphic photographs. I didn’t pay much attention to the other news, but devoured all the reports about murder.

And one last memory. One of my mother’s church friends murdered her husband. While he slept on the couch, she hit in in the head with an axe. I was young and don’t remember many details though I do know she was put into a mental institution. One more thing, I heard one of my mother’s friends say, “He was the most boring man I ever met. If I’d been married to him, I might have done the same thing.”

Okay, you other authors, any similar childhood memories influence you?

And readers, what happened in your childhood that might have influenced you to read mysteries?


P.S. Yes, I do use some of what I remember in my books–old and newer memories.

Happy Easter!

by Maria Geraci

I love Easter weekend! When I was kid, growing up in central Florida, Easter was one of the most anticipated holidays at my house. My parents, being strict Catholics, always emphasized the importance of the holiday over all the other religious holidays and made a huge deal of the entire weekend.
As a kid, the best part of Easter was that Lent was over. We didn’t have to go to church on Fridays for Stations of the Cross and we could eat meat again any time we wanted. Plus, we could resume eating/doing whatever it was we’d “given up” for Lent.

One Lent I gave up chocolate and candy of any kind. Pretty tough for an 8 year-old. That Easter Sunday I woke up and promptly gorged on all the goodies in my Easter basket. I remember feeling sick all during Easter mass and vowed I’d never give up candy again. After all, if I hadn’t deprived myself, then I wouldn’t have felt the need to overindulge, right? (at least that kind of logic seemed to work for me at that age!).

The other best parts of Easter? Egg hunts, warm spring weather, pretty pink dresses, gloves (yes, white gloves!), white frilly anklet socks, and Easter hats. Aw, the joys of growing up in the 60s and 70s. I remember sitting in the pew, alongside my sister and parents, feeling very important in my Easter finery.  I don’t think little girls wear white gloves on Easter anymore, but they should. If only to have the experience just once.

What are you fondest Easter memories?