Saturday, April 14, 2018

Smells like childhood

In The New York Times, Sofija Stefanovic’s essay on the smells of her childhood prompts readers to recall smells from their own childhoods.

Me: bus exhaust, bubble gum, Camel cigarettes, caps for toy guns, my elementary school’s basement, laundry air-dried in my grandparents’ basement. I think it’s odd that three of these six smells are the result of combustion. Or maybe four: the school basement’s smell was due at least in part to cooking for school lunches. I always thought of the smell as years of spilled soup.

See also David Owens’s essay on the smells of his childhood. Also this post about fresh cookies and fresh ironing, and this one about revisiting my elementary school, whose basement still had the same smell.

[I am well aware that childhood can also smell like burning buildings and chemical weapons.]

comments: 3

Fresca said...

Neat question---must think more on it.
What immediately popped to mind is the line in Robert Altman's Nashville:
"Does Christmas smell like oranges to you?"

Remember, it's a line from the campaign of a politician? (!)
At the time, a new kind of politician... [What a great movie about America.]

I'm with the news reporter in the movie who answers,
"As a matter of fact, Christmas has always smelled like oranges to me."

Oranges and the smell of the fresh cut on the pine Xmas tree. That's part of the answer of childhood smells anyway.

Michael Leddy said...

Oranges, yes: I’ve read stories of kids getting an orange at Christmas, back when fresh fruit didn’t grow on trees, so to speak.

zzi said...

Mine is fresh tar on the road. I know, I know it's supposed to be baby powder and Ivory.