I've been watching "The Roosevelts" on PBS and I remembered almost meeting Mrs. Roosevelt many years ago. I thought I might write my blog about it, so I called my mother to see if she remembered what happened.
My mother is one of those very rare people who can remember almost everything in her past history exactly as it happened no matter how long ago. There's a TV show on about that now, "Unforgettable," about a police woman detective who can visually recall everything she's seen. Wikipedia calls this "Hyperthymesia," but also describes it as being a constant stream of memories in the brain and recollections for specific days of the week.
I'm not sure if mother remembers what happened on a specific day or date of a past year, but she can remember a lot of past events in great detail. I told her I was watching the series on the Roosevelts and she immediately described the incident I was calling about before I asked her.
She said, "Do you remember when we were at a concert at Carnegie Hall? You were about 9 years old. We were in the balcony, and Eleanor Roosevelt came in and sat in the Orchestra. I asked you to go downstairs to see if that was her."
I kept trying to tell her I didn't know who Eleanor Roosevelt was at that time, but mother kept on talking, which she tends to do regardless of what I'm trying to say. I did go downstairs and over to the row the woman was in and asked the man next to her "Is that?" and pointed to the lady. She looked very old to me.
Mother told me to ask if she is Mrs. Roosevelt, but I don't remember if I said her name because I didn't know who she was. The man said "Yes, she is, but she doesn't want to be disturbed now." So I went back up to the balcony where mother was sitting and told her what the man said.
Mother said I was 9 but I thought I was 11 or 12. Leonard Bernstein was conducting the concert and he was young and handsome then. I looked up Bernstein and he conducted the debut of Charles Ives' Symphony #2 at the New York Philharmonic in 1951. I would have been 9 years old in 1951. He did not conduct the New York Philharmonic again until 1957 when he was named the principal conductor. So I guess mother remembers it better than I do.
Lest you think she recalled the incident because she was an adult at the time, she also told me a story about how she walked a mile to Kindergarten in the Bronx when she was 5 years old. She described her difficulty getting around construction work and the cold weather, so she used her nickel milk money to take the bus. That was 93 years ago!