Can the past form of the verb "think" imply a single instance of thinking rather than a habitual way of thinking about something or someone?
I mean this, many times I heard such phrases like "In those days we thought that...", "For years humans thought that...", "I had always thought of him as of..." etc. In all these cases a certain way of thinking that has or had been there for a quite a lengthy period of time consisting of many days is implied. So, it's not like "it suddenly occurred to me", "then it dawned on me that", "at that moment it crossed my mind that...".
I know that such structure like "suddenly" + "thought" is quite common. For example, "Suddenly, I thought of Mary", but in this case it is more an act of recalling someone rather than thinking of someone in some new way.
So, would something like "When we first met and he said to me that he didn't like animals, I thought of him as of a tough guy" be idiomatic?