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Paul Burri: Memories of Childhood Home Leave Lasting Mark

Boy's fall and subsequent 'stonehead' a small part of a long history

For the first six years of my life, I lived in a small town in New Jersey. Our house was very small by today’s standards, but my parents were very proud of it and I, of course, didn’t know any better. Today, more than 75 years later, I can still draw an accurate floor plan of that house.

Several years ago, on a trip back East to New York City, I insisted that my wife and I drive back to the town to see if we could find the house. Finding the town was easy. Finding the house wasn’t much harder because I still have a mental picture of the main street, the kindergarten that I attended (still there) and a pretty clear mental picture of where the house is relative to those two landmarks. And of course, I still remember the address because in those days it was drummed into your little head, “In case you get lost you can tell the policeman where you live.”

So after not too much trouble we pulled up in front of the old house. As I started to get out of the car, my wife asked me in a slightly alarmed voice, “Where are you going?”

I replied, “I want to see the inside. Come with me.”

A young woman with a small child in tow answered the door. I’m sure having my wife with me made it look a lot less suspicious than if I had been standing there alone. I introduced myself and explained that I had spent my first few years in the house and had come back to see it after all these years. Knowing the inside layout of the house — the stairs to the second floor are just to the left of the front door, my tiny bedroom was immediately over the front door, the kitchen was in the back of the house just beyond the stairs — soon convinced her that we were “legitimate,” and after her husband came to the door, too, they soon invited us in. We spent only about a half-hour with them, but I remembered things about the early history of the house that they had not known.

One story I told them was an incident that happened back when the driveway was all gravel instead of paved as it is today. I was playing and running in that driveway when, as kids often do, I fell down. As I pitched face-forward onto the gravel, my forehead hit the ground and a tiny piece of gravel embedded itself into my forehead.

To this day I remember my screams of pain as my father came out to pick me up and carry me into the house. It turned out that the tiny stone was shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, and unfortunately, it had embedded itself base down into my forehead. This meant that my dad couldn’t grab it with his tweezers and had to use a sterilized needle to try to work it loose. Of course my memory is that it took hours and hours and a lot of screaming before he got it out.

See this tiny scar right here in the center of my forehead? That’s it.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous Paul Burri columns. Follow Paul Burri on Twitter: @BronxPaul

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