Stathis Family History
First Childhood Memory by Tim Stathis  

My First Childhood Memory

The common question (to oneself) or that which comes-up in conversation at times of reminisces: “What is one’s earliest recollection, earliest memory from childhood?” has been responded by me with the story of me at Otisco Lake at age 4. There is much in the depth of the forging of my identity associated with Summers throughout my childhood at The Lake, and this one, the earliest, doesn’t seem to be so much in forging identity, so much as it is actually descriptive of my place among others, though it certainly does have some psychological implications related to emotions experienced in a situation of desperation, helplessness, or relief found in being “saved.”


That I was 9th among the 10 children of my parents, and that it happened at a time being 4 years old, when my little brother and I were certainly the babies of the family, and that I was yet old enough to be running around, and old enough to not have every step watched, as would be the case with my younger sibling at 2; and that all the other siblings and age corresponding cousins were likely all around at the same time among whom I was running around in carefree frolic, all creates the sense of my place within the event.


In the sunshine, and all gathered in and around the water, the joyful shouts and games being played in and around the water, I with a life-preserver bandied about my neck and body, in my world on the shore, suddenly found myself with no connection to the muddied clay-like earth underfoot, as I began to float out into the beyond. Out that way there was a diving raft of which numerous of my siblings and cousins were jumping off of and climbing anew, and jumping again in the constant splashing in their fun, and I recall floating in that proximity, yet not to it, but coursing by it, perhaps heading past it. I recall my own voice, and my own mind having enough knowledge to know that to utter the word “Help!” was appropriate in such circumstances, and the image impressed from the event is one of legs coursing out to me from the raft, bodies going airborne into the water and being securely grabbed. My sister, Hari, 5th of the ten, recalls being my rescuer.


I remember the concluding scene, I recall it as cousin Stevie, though it could have been another, explaining to my Mother that the life jacket strap that is meant to hold the jacket to the body had come loose, thus floating parallel to the water surface, thus lifting me off my feet and sending me on my adventure.


When I think of this event, I think of how my head might have slipped through the life-preserver and who knows what from there, that my life could have been that short with nothing beyond ever experienced, and my mother’s and siblings forever burdened by the tragic loss, and how that wasn’t the result, and I have been gifted a long life, and that my mother lived to her last day having never lost any of her own. I think about how connected one sibling is to the others, so naturally, looking-out for one another, as being a part of life inherently the nature of families, and that families do shape our lives, and are part of the early emotions we experience as being alive and what it means to be alive and live among others.



Above: An Early photo at Otisco Lake. c. 1968 Captures the feelings of Mother watching her children in their childhood frolics by the water. This at "Gross's Camp" or the camp next to it which we had prior. Though we number the different Summer Camps that changed from year-to-year beginning with the first camp in 1964 when the above early childhood memory is taken, eventually we settled into being regulars at Gross's, which began as 2-week stays and over the years extended to 3 weeks, then 4 weeks, and sometimes 5 weeks, we always hoping Mom would get Dad to extend, to which he could never say 'No.' Eventually, in later years, Billy pitched-in to pay for camp extensions. Rob eventually bought Gross's Camp, had it torn down and rebuilt in similar style. Billy and David both started with buying Summer Camps of their own on Otisco Lake, and later made their permanent homes there. Pictured above: Maria Stathis. Tim standing with Fishing Rod. Rob on the dock with family dog, Princess. Girl at end of dock likely Hari or possibly Barbie. Photo by Demo Stathis, Jr.