February 26th, 2013

mad hatter

An odd bit of remembering

In the early 1960s, there was a Saturday morning cartoon show called, King Leonardo and his Short Subjects, which featured the dim-witted title character (a lion), and his Prime Minister of sorts, a noble skunk named Odie Colonie. The show debuted as I was turning seven and showed up on Saturday morning in various forms for five or six years.

Now, Odie Colonie's name is obviously a fragrant pun on eau de cologne. At some point, that became obvious to me, even as a pre-teen. But even stranger, I seem to recall that before the show went off the air, I had also realized that Odie's name was a (perhaps unconscious) allusion to Odo Colonna, who became Pope Martin V in 1417.

Not that I knew who Odo Colonna was, or that he became Martin V, or under what circumstances. But I seem to recall recognizing the name as something out of history even as I watched the little skunk's doings on TV. In fact, I seem to recall wondering whether the inventors of the cartoon character might have had Odo Colonna in mind rather than the perfume.

Did I really recognize the name Odo Colonna from some stray history book at age 10 or 11? I mean, I was precocious in some ways, but that's a really odd bit of knowledge to have filed away for even the little history buff that I was. Or did I later edit my memories, putting the datum Odo Colonna back into earlier experience? People can do that, you know.

Memory is a tricky thing. We don't actually file them away somewhere, say the scientists, but rather we create them anew every time we recall them. That means that a memory is like a recording of a recording of a recording. It also means that the more we recall something, the more we edit it, adding later understandings and values to it.

For what it's worth, I think that I really did associate Odie Colonie with Odo Colonna sometime in my pre-teen years, though I couldn't have told you who the historical person was at that time. But the conviction comes only after weighing the evidence and considering my doubts and deciding only by the preponderance of the evidence.