Sunday, August 21, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week #34 - Smells

Week #34 – Smells

Week 34: Smells. Describe any smells that take you back to childhood. These could be from meals, fragrant gardens, musty basements, or something entirely different.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.

I am so happy about this challenge! It is one that I simply love! The idea that a smell, an aroma, can take us back to a place or a time that means something to us. Good or bad.

I suppose the number one smell that can take me right back to my childhood is the smell of bacon frying in a pan on a woodstove.

If you've ever smelled that distinct aroma, you'll know what I mean! It simply isn't the same smell when it is being cooked on an electric range!

As a youngster, both of my Grandmother's cooked on a woodstove. As I got a little older, Grandma Dreher got a gas, and then an electric stove. But at Grandma Beane's house, the smell of bacon frying was always on a woodstove!

As a teenager, we moved from the city to the country, and one of the first things Mama bought was a wood-burning cookstove. How well I remember the smell of bacon frying on a Saturday morning! [Mama didn't cook breakfast except on weekends, as we ate cold cereal the rest of the time. And Sunday mornings were a busy time at our house. Everyone getting ready for Sunday school and church!]

So, those smells take me back to slow, lazy Saturday mornings, when breakfast was more of a brunch than an early morning thing. There would be crispty fried bacon, eggs fried to perfection, biscuits hot from the oven, fresh churned butter, grape or damson plum preserves, or if we were lucky - apple butter with lots of cinnamon! And of course, at Grandma's house, there was always ice cold milk! [My Mama raised us on powdered milk - something I despise to this day! Yuck!]

Occasionally we'd take a trip to my Aunt Veda's in Bumpass, Virginia. Aunt Veda was a "gourmet" of country cooking. [She was the Paula Deen of the time to her community and family!] She made the best breakfast's in the world! She had the bacon, but also sausage, and ham slices! And for the menfolks, there were also ham steaks, big ol' thick slabs of ham cut into steaks! And instead of the regular brown or cream gravy most of us usually got at home, Aunt Veda made red-eye gravy from the ham. [You have to have eaten red-eye gravy to know it's allure! But it's a delicacy , especially in the south. And Aunt Veda and Uncle Melvin lived right in the heart of the pre-Civil War plantations!] To sit down at a breakfast at Aunt Veda's table, was equivalent to sitting down to a breakfast at a big ol' southern plantation prior to the Civil War. The table literally groaning with food, you simply wouldn't know where to start first when it came to eating!

Another smell that can take me back...the smell of laundry hanging on a breezy spring day on the clothesline! A little bit pungent from the use of bleach, but fresh and clean as only linens can smell when hanging on the line! Oh, I used to take great pride in hanging the laundry for my Mama. It was one of the first grown up chores I got to do! I was tall for my age, and could easily hang the sheets and towels without letting them touch the ground! Mama taught me to fold the wet things from the washing machine just so, so that when I went to hang them on the line they would go up without any problems. And living in the city, Mama had a certain way about hanging those delicate items that ladies didn't want seen by all the neighbors! Since we had neighbors to the sides and behind us, underclothes and lingerie was to be hanged between the rows of other longer garments or sheets! So brassieres, panties, undershorts, petticoats and slips, as well as nighties, were hung in the center lines, while sheets always went to the outer lines to hide what was behind them. [It was a bit more of a genteel time!]

And one last smell for this assignment. That of yeast rolls rising! Neither of my Grandmother's, nor my Mama made yeast rolls. But my Aunt Mildred did [Aunt Mildred is my Daddy's brother's wife.] Aunt Mildred, thankfully, is still with us, although she is now 87 years young! Although it's been years since I have seen her make yeast rolls, the ones she used to make were out of this world! And that scent was pure heaven to me! Before the raised dough ever went into the oven my mouth was watering, and my tummy grumbling!!! We recently had a family reunion, and although she didn't make yeast rolls, Aunt Mildred graced our tables with homemade coconut cream pie! [It's a secret recipe that you couldn't pry from her mind! She absolutely refuses to reveal it! We've even sat in front of her and tried to write it down as she makes it, but somehow... something remains elusive and we can't duplicate it!]

So, here are three of my favorite smells that can transport me back to another time and place. There are of course many more!

The smell of rain coming down in the spring; a cherrywood cigar burning; White Shoulders cologne; spray starch; roasting peanuts; and oh so many more!

What scents can transport you to another time and place?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Aunt Mildred needs to leave her pie recipe to someone in her will or it'll be lost forever! Thanks for the memories -I hadn't thought of the smell of washing -for me the sheets in the copper and then being blued before hanging up...a particular smell. Thanks!