How Good Is Your Memory?

When I worked at Tomart Publications as a book and magazine editor, one of our specialties was radio-premium collectibles — those prizes people sent in for during the Golden Age of radio.  For awhile, the Illustrated Radio Premium Catalog and Price Guide was one of our best-selling books.  Many collectors fondly remembered special treasurers they had as a kid.

Except sometimes they never really existed.  What they remembered had never been made, at least in their recalled form.

I was thinking of this when I heard about Brian Williams of NBC News and his memory problems.  I’m not passing judgment on Brian, but I can sympatheize.  As a Disney collector, I’ve discovered memory glitches are actually quite common.

For example, where did Peter Pan and the Lost Boys live? Many people speak of “Never-Never Land”, but officially, it’s “Never Land”, as in “off to Never Land”. Note also that it’s two words. (By the Way, Tinker Bell is also two words, because at one point Captain Hook addresses her as “Miss Bell”.)

Another example: how many times have you heard “Mirror, mirror on the wall….”? In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Wicked Queen actually calls on the “Magic Mirror on the wall…” And then there are the people who don’t know how to spell “Geppetto” and “Aladdin”.

Of course, these are pretty harmless confusions. But it’s insidious how errors can creep in, especially in publishing (see my earlier post on dictionary mistakes).  That’s why proofreading never ends…

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