Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Disappearing Smells of Childhood

Can smells disappear, never to be smelled by anyone again?

Apparently so.

Do you have a special smell of childhood?  Think about it - does that smell still exist?

I remember the scent of the lobby of the apartment in the Bronx where my mother's mother and father lived.   I remember the smells of cooking food.

The building still exists (it was built in 1930, and was converted to co-op housing many years ago) so perhaps those smells still exist.

The other is the smell of overcooked cabbage. Forgive me, blog readers from England, but that is one smell I hope never to have to smell ever again.  We had war brides from England living in my childhood apartment building, and when they decided to cook cabbage, it was an all day affair.  (I must have a thing about the smell of cooking food....)

Please, someone from England, tell me you don't cook cabbage all day any more.

But the smell my spouse associates with fall - the smell of burning leaves - is a smell that exists in fewer and fewer places, as the practice has been banned in many United States municipalities.

Those aren't the only smells that are disappearing, either.

It's doubful that teens or those in their twenties remember the smell that vacumn tubes made when they were in the warming up process make - except, perhaps, for my son.  Old technology fascinates him.

How many people, as another example, remember the scent of mimeograph (ditto) sheets? And, while we are at it, have you ever wondered why someone on an email is "cc"d" (as in carbon copied)?.

Now you know.

Is there a smell from your childhood that no longer exists?


  1. Good question Alana, though I would have to ponder that one. I think of baby powder as a familiar childhood smell, but not sure if it is used anymore. I am rather sensitive to chemical toxins and hope that chemical bleach is banned, at least from household cleaning including laundry use as well as swimming pools! ;) <3

  2. Ahh interesting questions...I do remember the smell associated with vacum cleaners...There is that particular scent that I associate with living in Shillong when I was a child..I don't think I can smell it anymore...Makes one ponder

    Random Thoughts Naba..Memories of School and Some More...

  3. i miss the smell of baby powder and vanilla essence. I miss the smell of burning tobacco leaves that people used as a tooth cleaner( yes they do that in India) I miss the smell of boiling milk ( since most people use tetrapacks they don't need to boil).
    I miss the smell of wet earth( There's hardly any non-concretised space left!) I can go on and on.....


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