Smells From Childhood


I reintroduced myself to black licorice the other week.  I was shopping, and suddenly I had a craving for something in the sweets isle.  However, I did not want my normal candy of choice, peanut M&M’s.  Noticing a box of Panda Licorice, childhood memories came flooding back to me! 


Grandpa’s red pickup permeated the smell of licorice!  Even his carport reeked with the smell of licorice, of which I could never understand because it was exposed to the open air. I thought the air would sweep the smell away.  I just convinced myself that Grandpa bought stockpiles of licorice, and hid it in every nook and cranny that he could find.  I absolutely love the smell and taste of licorice, because it was Grandpa’s smell. 


When the box of Panda Licorice was opened, and I smelled that unique oder tinkling my nose, I was back in the safety of my Grandpa’s lap, and  watching his his favorite show, wrestling.  It certainly was not my favorite show to watch, but in the name of love I was able to tolerate that one insane love of his!    


While I am writing about the smells I associate with Grandpa, I have to mention this.  Grandpa was a rockhound.  Mom often has  said that they couldn’t go to the beach without both of her parents butts ending  up in the air, as they were always on the hunt for agates. 


Grandpa had a barn full of rocks and equipment that he turned rocks into gems with.  There were saws, sanders, buffers, Polishers, and everything else that could be needed that kept his hobby running.  I loved sitting in the corner of the barn, and watching him work with his rocks; making some into jewelry.  It was his element and his passion.  I loved the pure earthy smell of the rocks being grinded!  Grandpa never went anywhere without a small handfull of rocks rattling in his pockets, just waiting for his grandchildren to find a unique stone that we had to have.  


What smells instantly transport you back into your childhood? 

Posted at 9:03 AM by

3 Responses

  1. Star Crunch!
    When I was a kid growing up in Miami, my dad would often drive us to his mother’s house to spend the day. He would always ask us, “do you want to go the city way, or the country way?” Of course, there isn’t much of a “country way” on suburban Miami, but you did pass some orange groves and maybe a horse or two in a field. Grandma lived in a large mobile home park with manicured lawns and a huge swimming pool. My brother and sister and I would pick our favorite beach towel from Grandma’s huge stack of towels, change into our swimsuits and head out the door. There was a little pond on the way to the pool and Grandma would always give us some stale bread to feed the ducks. When we got to the pool a few blocks away, Grandma would show us off a bit and then settle onto a lounge chair to watch us swim. After a few hours of pool time, we’d wrap ourselves up and sit by Grandma, tired and usually a little sunburned. That’s when she’s pass out the Star Crunches. Chocolate, rice crispies and caramel? Warmed up from sitting in Grandma’s bag all afternoon? Best. Snack. Ever.

    But perhaps the smell that instantly transports me back to childhood more than any other is the smell of rain on hot concrete. Miami is famous for thunderstorms in the summertime and there were weeks when we had a 4pm thunderstorm every single day. It would be 95 degrees, we’d be playing outside with our friends, and then BOOM! Clouds filled the sky, fat raindrops hammered down and we’d be soaked. Sometimes we’d just lie down on the sidewalk to feel the heat of the concrete on our backs and the cool of the rain on our fronts. Then, after about ten minutes, the blazing sun would come back out and we’d go right back to climbing trees and building forts and playing house.
    Amy Cline at 10/21/2008 9:42 AM

  2. The smell that can instantly take me back to my childhood is one I associate with my Uncle Albert. He was a white haired curmedgeon with an English accent, suspenders holding up pants over a large belly and a love of cigars.

    The smell of his cigars permeated his car and every square inch of his Chicago brownstone. I was born in the ’50’s when smoking was chic, a rite of passage and no one then could have imagined that one day it would be de riguer to step outside to smoke. Uncle Albert smoked those stogies in the house with windows that were rarely opened. That sweet-spicy smell drifted into my baby nose and was with me as I learned to walk and talk. All the kids would watch the ash grow and grow on the end of that burning tip and I can still hear our childish voices telling him to “tap it” seemingly seconds before it would have fallen in his lap.

    I adored Uncle Albert and that feeling was returned to me a thousand times over.
    Fifty years later the rare scent of that delicious ashy, spicy aroma is a time machine and I am flooded by primal feelings of protection, love and belonging from a grumpy, old uncle who pretended to bite my baby fingers and never imagined that the smell of his beloved cigars would haunt me for the rest of my life.

  3. Hi Jan, I just shared your “licorice” story with my 100 yr old friend, Kay. The smell she mentioned first was that of “corned beef and cabbage being cooked by my Mother.” After reading the reply about the cigar smoking Uncle, she shared that her Dad also smoked cigars and their smell too brings back many memories. Thanks again for sharing your life!!! Luv, -K-

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