4 Apr

It’s funny how something like a smell, a taste, or a sound can bring memories just flooding back.

You know, like orange and vanilla = push up pops from the ice cream truck as a kid, or hearing a Foo Fighters song takes you back to high school… or whatever school you were in then.

When my dad came and fixed our mailbox, he brought me a pair of post hole diggers.  Post hole diggers, you say, what do they have to do with anything?  Well, it’s not the tool itself, but rather the smell that came along with it.  You see, they were my grandfather’s post hole diggers.  My Pop Pop.  My dad handed me those things and as soon as I smelled them, I was transported back to his basement in Cheraw, SC.  You see, there were two different smells in that house – cigarettes upstairs, and then the basement.

That basement was filled with history.  His WWII Army uniform.  Wood bodies and metal strings on his fiddles, guitars, and banjos.  The kind of dank earthiness that basements have.  Fishing reels, lures, hooks.  His old typewriter.  A world map from back when there was a USSR.  Thousands of receipts.  His tax returns from the first time he ever paid taxes.  Empty coffee cans and boxes – a product of growing up during the great depression in the Green Swamp of Brunswick County.  Oh yes, there was history in that basement.

And it had a certain smell.  I’m not sure I could describe it to you, but if you want to smell it, I now have some post hole diggers that smell just like it.

I could almost see him, holding that fiddle with his frail, old hands, but still playing it skillfully – always by ear, because he never read music.  I could almost hear those old bluegrass songs, the old hymns that he used to play.  And him calling me his “chanteuse” or telling me to give him his cough back whenever I was sick.  The Sunday paper on those old linoleum countertops, open to the crossword puzzle, dictionary nearby, and usually already complete.  The smell of fried shrimp or roasted oysters or fried flounder cooking.

Oh, it’s amazing what a smell can do.  That smell takes me right back to the middle of nowhere, rural Sakerlina, where I saw my first snow, learned to eat seafood, and learned my first guitar chords.  Mmm… I do love that smell.

Those are good memories.

3 Responses to “Memories”

  1. Rachel April 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. My violin used to smell of the basement, the smell is gone now, but every time I pick it up I think of Pop Pop and the basement where he taught me to play “Shortnin’ Bread.”

    Wonderful memories…great pictures, too!
    Love you!

  2. Joye April 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    I’m right there with you, Rebecca! I was home this past weekend and went through a cedar chest at my mama’s house. In there was an opened bag of the tobacco that my Grandpa used in his pipe. One whiff, and I was flooded with memories and tears.

    Glad you have such great memories … and pictures!

  3. casey chappell April 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    So true. I went to visit my grandparents house for the last time this past weekend before they sell it. It smells exactly the way I remember growing up… something about walking in with the screen door creaking and the wiff of the house surrounding you, you knew you were at grandaddy and grandmothers house!! mmm…

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