I believe that as we age, we become accustomed to smells and odors. Sure, many things still smell good – like flowers and colognes. Or they can smell bad, like a trashcan in August the day before pickup. But looking back – way back – this Boomer can recall the vivid scents of youth. It was as if I had discovered the sense of smell for the first time. Here are some of the fragrances I recall.
Well I remember the smell of my first baseball mitt. It was an infielders glove, signed by Chico Carrasquel, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. The mitt cost about $9 and I had to beg Daddy to spend that much. When I brought it home, I held the glove close to my face and inhaled deeply. It’s a wonder I didn’t suck all of the new leather smell from the mitt, but it retained that enticing aroma for a good while – until I left it out in the rain.
Another similar smell was that of a new baseball. New baseballs were rare commodities for Boomers. They cost $1.75 each and they had to last almost all summer. But fresh out of the Rawlings box, the smell of a new ball was most distinct.
Another smell that stands out from my youth was that of honeysuckle. As a Little Leaguer in Lewisburg, WV, we played at the local diamond, and in May, there were honeysuckle vines climbing up the backstop. On our first game of the season, the honeysuckle was in full bloom and the enchanting fragrance of sweet nectar overwhelmed the entire ballpark. I remember that day well, as I almost hit a home run. My line drive hit the center field wall. It was a great day in my life and each time I smell honeysuckle, I think back to that May afternoon in 1956.
Another smell I recall was that of a fresh loaf of bread. We ate mostly Sunbeam bread back then and Daddy generally did the weekly shopping on Saturday mornings at A & P. When he came home, Mom made sandwiches from that new loaf of Sunbeam. I can’t recall a more enticing aroma than when she first opened that fresh loaf of bread.
I also think back to the many wonderful smells permeating Mom’s kitchen, but one that clearly stands out was fried chicken on a Sunday afternoon. Just home from church and ravished by hunger, my sense of smell was simply overwhelmed when Mom fired up the stove top and introduced a cut-up chicken, dusted in Martha White flour, into a skillet of Crisco oil. Wow! What an intense smell! No food – to this Boomer, anyway – ever smells as good as fried chicken. But as a 10-year old boy, it smelled even better.
Denim was another memorable scent. For back to school, and sometimes in spring, Mom took all the kids shopping and we bought new jeans. Not ones that had been pre-washed or ones that had holes in the knees before you bought them, but new stiff, denim jeans. They smelled heavenly. I doubt kids today even know what denim smells like, but I sure remember. It was intense and a reminder of a new school year, a new teacher and new friends.
These are some of the smells I remember.
How about you?