Smells of the Past

Does the past have an odor? To me it definitely does. Certain things I smell always remind me scenes from my childhood.

The most prevalent one is the smell of freshly mown grass. I played a lot of golf when I was growing up, and from late spring until early fall, mowers were always at work somewhere on the course. I guess the cutting of the blades of grass must release some chemical into the air or something, because the smell was pervasive—and pleasant.

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So much of my childhood and teenage years involved golf courses that any such memory gives me warm feelings. They take me back to a time when my biggest worry in life was getting home from school in time to be able to play football with the neighbor kids or getting home on Friday or Saturday night early enough not to get into trouble with my parents. And, of course, there’s the smell itself. Such a sweet, pungent odor. I still love what it does to my senses.

What gave me the idea for this post was a smell I encountered on the way to meet a friend for breakfast this morning. I don’t know how this smell came to me with the car windows rolled up and the heater on, but I caught the smell of clothes being ironed. Weird, I know, but it was there somehow.

Ironing

When I was a kid, before the day of all the synthetic no-iron fabrics, most clothes had to be ironed. I have wonderful memories of walking through the room when my mother was ironing and smelling the fresh smell made by the iron on the shirts or whatever she happened to be ironing.

Baking smells remind me of my maternal grandmother. She was a wonderful baker, and I have sweet memories of the odor of her cinnamon rolls or homemade yeast rolls wafting from the oven.

What smells take you back to treasured days of your childhood?

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We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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22 Responses to Smells of the Past

  1. Rachel Tice says:

    There are several scents which remind me of my childhood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. However, my favorite scent as a young girl was the smell of my mother’s cherry tree. Whenever I stepped outside my house, I would take in the beautiful aroma of the cherry blossoms. And not to brag, but my mother’s cherry pie was the best in town!

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    • You probably have fonder memories of that area than I do, Rachel. I spent my college years in a dungeon a few miles north of Chapel Hill, and my only fond memories involve the basketball team which played in the final four two of the three years I was there. That was back in the early ’60’s.

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    • Judith Dinsmore says:

      Oh my goodness! Hello, Rachel! I haven’t seen you since high school! How are you? And I must agree with you, your mother’s cherry pie was simply outstanding! I always looked forward to coming over to your house after school to eat pie and play with our barbies, in middle school of course. Anyway, my favorite scent was the smell of the mint leaves and basil in my mother’s garden. I always would go out in the garden and pick leaves to keep them in my pockets because of the wonderful, fresh smell.

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      • Thanks, Judith. I remember loving the smell of mint leaves, too, although I can’t recall where I would encounter them.

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      • Rachel Tice says:

        Hi Rachel! I can’t believe it’s actually you! I still recall the time we were part of that music video years ago. Good times, I am still laughing at the thought.

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        • Rachel Tice says:

          My goodness, my mind is giving in, I called you Rachel. I’m sorry Judith.

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        • Judith Dinsmore says:

          Yes, I still remember that. It was old school technology so of course, it was quite horrible. Are you still living in Kansas?

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        • Rachel Tice says:

          No, after getting married, I had 6 children so I decided to move to California. And I am loving it, We have such beautiful weather. What about you?

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  2. Simone Walker says:

    Sometimes after I get undressed, I smell my socks because they remind of the cheese I ate as a child.

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  3. David Walker says:

    Whenever I smell my own armpit, it reminds me of growing up and never showering.

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  4. ramonawray says:

    Lavander. My mom would have these lavender satchels spread about the linen closet. Our sheets smelled beautiful!

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    • Thanks, Ramona. My grandmother loved lavender, so it always reminds me of her. The smell, to some extent, but just the color lavender even more. Her bathroom and bedroom were both heavy with that color.

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  5. Barb Estinson says:

    All the smells you mentioned bring good memories to me, too, David. Except my memories of freshly mown grass are from our lawn (probably mown by you), not the golf course. And bacon cooking was a pleasant wake up smell while Mom cooked breakfast. And then of course, freshly baking bread reminds me of Mrs. Bairds bakery.

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  6. Johnny Hackney says:

    Smell is probably my most highly developed sense.
    A whiff of odor from the past will immediately transport me back in time.
    Smell that immediately come to mind–A 1959 Impala. I can be inside of one that has been abandoned for years in a junkyard–Blindfolded and still know I’m in a 1959 Impala.
    A trip with my grandmother to Monnig’s Department Store and the smell of (para dichlorobenzene)–Moth Crystals–not mothballs! Remember smoking was allowed in the dress departments in the 1950’s.
    I grew up on a dairy farm–Not the smell of the cow’s elimination–but the smell of soured milk.
    The smell of Aramis–I bathed in the soap in 1965 and I still can’t get the odor out of memory.
    The smell of Aqua-Velva in years past–reminds me of Glen Lake Methodist Camp and my happy summers.
    And last but not least the smell of standing rib roast cooking for family Christmas dinners.

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  7. dmswriter says:

    This definitely takes me back. I can identify with the smell of mowed grass, which always says “spring” to me. And I know the smell of clothes being ironed, along with the wonderful baking aromas from my mom’s and grandma’s kitchen. Just the other day I was telling our daughter about another childhood smell – I was 10 when my grandma died, and there’s this strange, undefinable smell I get every so often that immediately takes me back to the funeral home grandma was at. Smells are definitely a powerful reminder of the past!

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  8. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Can’t think of any memorable aromas from my childhood days – just think the sense of smell brings a lot of pleasure (and some displeasure) throughout life. The last 25 years or so I’ve loved my husband’s Polo scent.

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