Memories and Forgetteries


I use “To Do” lists, and sticky notes, and Post-its, and a string tied around my finger to remember things. I even ask my friends to remind me of stuff so that when they forget to remind me, I can blame them!

The problem is a simple one. Some days my memory isn’t quite as good as my forgettery.

I admire people who have trained their memory for phenomenal feats of recall. Their brains are so strong they could probably lift a full-grown Guernsey cow with mental power alone, or so it seems. Consider these Olympic level feats of memory:

  • According to the website Grunge, “The current record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records is India’s Rajveer Meena, who spent 10 hours on March 21, 2015, saying number after number until he got to the 70,000th digit of pi…the previous record of 67,890 had held for 10 years.”
  • Then there’s Chess Grand Master Timur Gareyev who, on December 4, 2016 played 48 simultaneous chess games over 19 hours while he, not his opponents, wore a blindfold. He had memorized every move and won 37 matches, tied 6 and lost only 6.
  • Or how about the real person who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of Raymond in the 1988 movie Rain Man? Kim Peek had perfectly memorized 12,000 books and could recall in perfect detail 98% of everything he ever experienced by the time he died in 2009. Fortunately, he considered it cheating to use his photographic memory for gambling.

But I wonder if any of them still forgot to turn down the stove, or unplug the iron, or feed their goldfish.

For most of us, the ordinary distractions of everyday life and the simple passage of time become powerful switches that turn on our forgettery. For our children, one of the worst distractions that can cause forgetfulness is called “Summer Vacation.”

We have a cure this week. It’s intended to help local students forget less and remember more.

This week’s contributing cover story writer, Joni Blackman, is here to introduce our readers to Jamestown’s LEAP – Learning Enrichment & Academic Progress – program.

According to a recent study published by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a non-profit organization that regularly assesses millions of students in 50 states and 49 foreign countries,

“In the summer following third grade, students lose nearly 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math. By the summer after seventh grade, students lose on average 36 percent of their school-year gains in reading and a whopping 50 percent of their school-year gains in math. In other words, summer learning loss increases with age through elementary and middle school – a troubling trend…”

Some students are at greater risk than others. A summer on the streets or thumbing hours of video games is likely to foster forgetfulness.

LEAP says a summer of exposure to exciting adventures, thrilling reading, and eye-opening travel experiences will do more to empower young minds and build young memory muscles.

Summer vacation does have a value that is hard to ignore. It is a valuable tradition for enjoying fresh air and sunshine, family fun, bonding with friends, and building resilient neighborhoods. But such a summer vacation is not available for every child.

For some, summer learning loss is a real danger. Please learn about and support a giant LEAP forward for our most important, young citizens.

And also, please don’t let your forgettery stop you from remembering to enjoy the read in your Jamestown Gazette.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.