“I Remember” – Reading to Inspire Writing

This engaging piece of writing can motivate writers to reminisce and think through possible topics to develop into longer pieces of writing. After reading the following excerpts from I Remember by Joe Brainard, writers can write their own “I Remember” ideas.


I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.

I remember pink dress shirts. And bola ties.

I remember when a kid told me that those sour clover-like leaves we used to eat (with little yellow flowers) tasted so sour because

dogs peed on them. I remember that didn’t stop me from eating them.

I remember the only time I saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much in high school, I wanted to be handsome and popular.

I remember a dream I have had often of being able to fly (without an airplane).

I remember throwing my eye glasses into the ocean off Staten Island ferry one black night in a fit of drama and depression.

I remember the first time I saw television. Lucille Ball was taking ballet lessons.

I remember the song “Tennessee Waltz”.

I remember when I worked in an antique junk shop and I sold everything cheaper than I was supposed to.

I remember the day John Kennedy was shot.

I remember a red car coat.

I remember liver.

I remember when I was a “Demolay”. I wish I could remember the secret handshake so I could reveal it to you.

I remember many first days of school and that empty feeling.

I remember the clock from three to three-thirty.

I remember many Sunday afternoon dinners of fried chicken or pot roast.

I remember one day in gym class when my name was called out. I just couldn’t say “here”. I stuttered so badly that sometimes the
words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth at all. I had to run around the field many times.

I remember selling blood every three months on Second Avenue.

I remember when I thought anything old was very valuable.

I remember when I thought I was a great artist.

I remember when I wanted to be rich and famous (and I still do).

I remember a very poor boy who had to wear his sister’s blouses to school.

I remember reading once about a lady who choked to death eating a piece of chicken.

I remember rubbing my hand under restaurant tables and feeling all the gum.

I remember very old people when I was very young. Their houses smelled funny.

I remember the street corner where I waited for the bus to go to the dentist to get my braces adjusted.

I remember daydreams of being a movie star.

I remember daydreams of being a singer all alone on a big stage with no scenery, just one spotlight on me,singing my heart out, and
moving my audience to total tears of love and affection.

I remember the sound of the ice cream man coming.

I remember once losing my quarter in the grass before he made it to my house.

I remember not looking at crippled people.

I remember stories of what hot dogs are made of.

I remember not understanding why people on the other side of the earth didn’t fall off.

I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now.

–Joe Brainard (March 11, 1942 – May 25, 1994) was an American artist and writer best known for his memoir I Remember That constructs the story of his life through a series of brief entries, each beginning with the words “I remember.”