The Smell of Memories

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Today as I was washing the dishes, I got three distinct odors wafting under my nose; dish soap, Mexican seasonings and chlorine bleach.  It was quite a combination I can assure you, but it brought to mind my Gramma Lou. That got me thinking about how smells trigger memories.

The smell of chlorine bleach brings thoughts of all the times spent at my Gramma Lou’s house because she always seemed to have her white’s hanging on a line down in the basement.  To this day, the smell of wet, bleached clothing is my favorite smell.

The smell of grilled hot dogs brings camping memories of dear friends, laughter around the campfires, and my daughter’s childhood.

Freshly cut wood makes me think of my husband since he loves to work with wood.

Cinnamon, cranberry, praline, and caramel scented candles remind me of the wonderful days I spent working at my favorite shop years ago and the woman who owned the shop and how I was privileged to help her walk down that pine needle path to her forever home.

The smell of gasoline, tires, and oil takes me back to when my dad worked a second job in a full-service gas station and how he would take my sister and I there when he wanted to wash his car using their equipment and how if we were lucky enough to get a candy bar from the candy machine in the office, how it tasted like gasoline.

The inexplicable smells that came from certain stores like Woolworth’s (it had to do with the lunch counter space, probably the grill and the oil….but I can still smell it in my mind) or Glass Block (once you got in through those revolving doors, you could smell “class”.

The old beautiful musty smell of the libraries of my childhood, the dust sparkling around in the late afternoon sunshine, the quietness…almost a reverence.  I miss that and the ease of use of the 3×5 index cards in the card catalogue cabinets.

The odd smell that would permeate the West End of Duluth (way before the waste transfer system was there), I never knew if it was from the two bread making companies or the Arco Coffee company roasting their coffee beans.

The smell of the girl’s shower room at the old Goodfellowship Club, which by the time I used it was at least 50 plus years old.  The dankness of the  past lingered in those old peeling cement walls.

The overwhelming scent of hairspray and perm solution in the beauty salons where I would wait for my mother and once had my own hair done and they put glittery sparkles in my hair (little did they know they would spark a life-long passion of having unusual stuff/colors in my hair!).

The smell of sweetness and tobacco and old building at the liquor store my grandfather used to bring us to in Oliver, WI.

The awful smell of alcohol and disinfectant at the hospital and doctor’s office.  Just walking in there would make me sick to my stomach.

The feminine scent of talcum powder brings my darling Aunt Mayme to memory.  A beautiful soul who spent most of her life looking after everyone else and had the first place of her own at the ripe age of 81.

The smell of leather recalls the old man at the shoe store who always made me feel a bit uncomfortable for reasons I don’t think I could articulate back then.

The scent that has never gone away of the girl’s bathroom in the catholic grade school I attended and has not been used as a school since 1969 but all through the years I have attended functions there and have used the bathroom, that same smell is there.

The smell of iron in water teleports me back to my aunt and uncle’s house out in the country (I always hated to have to have a drink of their water since it tasted “funny” to this city kid).

Those are just some of my memory smells, the odors that transport me back to the 1950’s and 60’s.

Today’s smells that will take me back to this time in the future are the smell of my grandchildren; the unpleasant smell of decay in my old dog, Maxx; the smell of Mod Podge and chalk paint; and smells that I encounter now that I do not place any value in, once smelled in the future may bring back a memory of just this exact day.

Care to share any Smell Memory with me?  I am sure we all have them but perhaps they come and go and most folks never pay them any mind.

My sense of smell is acute (that is why my nose is bigger!) and my mind is always active so I am more sensitive to “Smell triggers” than many people.

So are you taken down Memory Lane when you smell a certain smell?  Please share.

Until the next thought pops up here,

I remain your smelly Queen

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About thelumberjackandthegypsy

The lumberjack is my husband and he owns Arrowhead Wood Products; Arrowhead Toboggan and Snowshoe; and Lake Superior Furniture Co. and is the exclusive manufacturer of wood shutters for Summit Hill Shutter Co. The gypsy is me, and I have a passion for teaching people to tap into their creative side, even when they think they don't have one! I did not grow up creative or artsy and I was in my thirties before I started sewing and creating things. I am a rug hooker; artisan teddy bear maker; painter (from pictures to large pieces of furniture!); knitter; doll maker; needle-felter, repurposer; sewer; decorator; blogger; glamper; reader; vintage jewelry maker; junker; and now a shop owner. But the lumberjack and I feel our greatest gifts in this world are our four grandkids and our daughter and her husband and our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have been married for more than 33 years and most of that time we have lived out in the country on a hobby farm where we have raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, pigs and beef cattle. We also homeschooled our only child for her entire school years. We lived out our dream of being like the The Little House on the Prairie and they were great times. I also have a personal blog: rantingsofamadqueen.wordpress.com where I tell stories of what life on the farm has been like and other things that pop up in my very weird mind. I prefer "quirky or eccentric" instead of weird (sounds more fascinating and less creepy)!

2 responses »

  1. The smell of manure always reminds me of school, where the gardener piled it on to the rosebush beds, and it permeated every classroom.
    The smell of ozone reminds me of a man I used to know, who wore a scent that smelled like a forest after it had rained, I always find the smell comforting and reassuring.
    The smell of lilacs brings my grandmother to mind, and a smile to my face. She loved me like no other, and the scent of lilacs always makes me feel comforted and safe.
    Beeswax reminds me of my partner, who uses a beard wax made from beeswax, coconut and lanolin. It’s got a kind of smoky scent to it, and it’s one I always associate with him.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment! The manure smell must have been awful…I live on a hobby farm and we have had cows and pigs and so I know that smell first hand!
      And as a grandmother of four, I don’t know if there is a smell that my grands will connect with me but wild-colored hair and furniture will surely bring me to mind!! And mannequins and heads….I have an obsession with heads and body parts and often use them in my home decorating. Oh, ya, my grands are going to remember me as one crazy lady!!!

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