May 11, 2006

A rose by any other name…

Would still probably not smell like a paper mill. Or something. I was trying to come up with a good introduction for today’s “Smells Like Home” Version of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, and, well, that’s about the best I could do.

ANYWAY, prompted by Monday’s reminiscence about the comforting smells of childhood, Jim Smith (an alias, I’m certain of it) suggested that this week’s T3 deal with not only the smells, but also with the sights and sounds that you remember from your youth.

SO, take a moment and open up your memory vault, then answer these three questions:

1. What smells do you most closely associate with your childhood home or hometown?

2. What landmark do you remember about your hometown that no longer exists?

3. What sounds do you recall distinctly from your childhood?

Take a moment to think about those and either leave a comment below, or a link to your blog.

As for my answers--

1. Well, Monday I noted that the smell of coke plants is one I really remember from growing up, but I also remember the smell of the cedar chest we donated to charity a couple of weeks ago. When I was little, that chest stayed out in the utility room behind the house, where we also had our washer and dryer. I remember going in there and always being slightly afraid that if I opened the chest up, I’d find a dead body in there. It was just old clothes, though.

I also have a very strong remembrance of a particular smell that was in the closet of my second grade teacher’s classroom. I have mentioned it on here before--it was an odd vegetative smell, something like old pumpkin vines. Every once in a while, I will catch a whiff of that smell driving through the country in the fall, and it never fails to take me back to the time when I was 7 years old and just about to open that closet door, and Mrs. Bryant told me to stop doing that.

2. Oh, I have to say the old ice house on Arkadelphia Road. At the Highway 78 exit off of I-59/20, where the road went underneath a couple of concrete train trestles before looping up over the railroad tracks at the Frisco yards in East Thomas, there used to be an old ice house there. It probably got torn down sometime before 1970, but for some reason it really made an impression on me, and to this day I still think of that spot as where the ice house used to be.

The two old trestles got torn down a few years ago, and it’s still disconcerting to drive by and expect to see them and they not be there, but the icehouse is still a stronger memory.

3. Sounds. Well, I remember back when I was little, Air National Guard jets could go supersonic pretty much with no restrictions, so it was cool to hear a house-shaking sonic boom every once in a while. Of course, with the Cold War and stuff going on, that odd Emergency Broadcast System warning tone was always pretty much the way I figured the Earth would end. In my mind, I figured something like the Three Stooges would be on, and then they would run the warning tone, and there would be one of those NBC Special Report cards, and David Brinkley would announce World War III. Lileks had a post on that sound and on tornado (that is, air raid) sirens (or “sireens” as we used to call them) the other day (sorry can’t find which day) and he recounted the exact same weird feeling I still get when I hear stuff like this nowadays. I mean, it’s bad if you’re a kid and you hear stuff like this now--it means REALLY bad weather, but when I was young, it meant the end of everything.

Or not.

I mean, I AM still here, after all.

So, there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 11, 2006 08:00 AM

I'm up and it's still early!

Posted by: Sarah G. at May 11, 2006 08:42 AM

I'm Up.

Posted by: jim at May 11, 2006 09:34 AM

1. Smells -- the Proctor and Gamble plant's effluvium on the Trinity River, Mrs. Baird's bakery in the evening, hot tar on the street in front of the house, my mother's Tabu solid stick perfume.

2. Missing landmark -- The Commerce Street News stand downtown, where my father used to buy the London Observer on Sundays.

3. Crickets in the floor furnace.

Posted by: Janis at May 11, 2006 09:56 AM

I'm back from my trip down memory lane!

Posted by: Diane at May 11, 2006 10:24 AM

I'm a Navy brat, so my "hometown" is basically the Norfolk, Va Beach area.
1. South of the resort area in Va Beach, there's a risk of getting caught behind a hog truck on a 2-lane road. There's a smell to remember.
My mother's from Decatur, IL. When visiting my grandparents, the (not unpleasant) smell of the AE Staley plant in Decatur spread well into the country side. In googling Staley, I learned that they're not an Archer-Danils-Midland subsidiary as I'd thought, but are part of Tate & Lyle ( The other thing I learned was that the Chicago Bears started out as the Decatur Staleys.

Posted by: Steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at May 11, 2006 12:21 PM

2. Well, my (and Dr Weevil's, and Larry Sabato's, and a few other people) high school moved its campus, so the original building is gone.
3. When we lived in Va Beach, we were under the flight path for the Ocean Naval Air Station. I do recall the sound of a couple of F-4s taking off under full afterburner in the middle of the night.

Posted by: Steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at May 11, 2006 12:25 PM

As the bumper stickers say--"Jet Noise--the Sound of Freedom."

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 11, 2006 12:34 PM

I'm in.

Posted by: Skinnydan at May 11, 2006 01:13 PM

enjoyed your trip down memory lane

Smells - fresh cut grass and honeysuckle coming in through an open window

Missing Landmarks - Cobb's General Store on the corner of Main St & Cullman Road. It's been somewhat 'modernized'.

Sounds - Sonic Booms from flights into and out of the Arsenal. Or maybe the sound of the football practice (whistle, playcalls, crunching shoulder pads) in the late evenings.

Posted by: tm at May 11, 2006 02:17 PM

Thanks for dropping by, TM. Are you by chance up in the Huntsville area? I'm guessing "Arsenal" refers to Redstone, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 11, 2006 02:28 PM

1. What smells do you most closely associate with your childhood home or hometown?
My sense of smell is almost non-existent. Something has to really have a pong to it before I notice, so I don't really notice smell that much.

But, tm's comment about honesuckle reminds me of my first apartment in Birmingham, just a few blocks from Five Points. It had honeysuckle growing outside my bedroom window. For about five or six months a year, I'd wake up every morning to the smell of honeysuckle. Heaven.

2. What landmark do you remember about your hometown that no longer exists?
Huntsville is my hometown, and I can remember back in junior high school when they built The Mall (that was its name, honest!), the city's first fully enclosed shopping mall. Many afterschool and evening hours wasted there, I can tell you. My mother even has pictures of us as kids standing outside The Knight's Table restaurant (across the street), with the empty lot in the background. It died in the early Nineties and was torn down a few years later.

3. What sounds do you recall distinctly from your childhood?
The rumble of Saturn V rocket engine tests at the Marshall Space Flight Center! The ground would start to shake and rumble, like an earthquake, and all the glass and china in the house would rattle and clink. Then a few moments later would come the low rolling thunder of the engines, miles away mind you, which would go on for several minutes sometimes. Like God himself striding the earth.

Posted by: mike hollihan at May 11, 2006 11:40 PM

I wonder if guys have some kind of hardwired love of loud thunderous noises. I love thunderstorms and rockets and jets and drum corps competitions and steam engines, and I KNOW I'm not alone.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 12, 2006 08:11 AM