Black Cat firecrackers

Top 25 Scents of My Childhood & Youth

They come in clusters, of course, and even when I remember one of these scents today, they often bring the others with them.

I began with the very first scents I can remember—ones which go with my my earliest memory—and went from there.

I thought it would be a top ten list, but it evolved and grew. I’m guessing that many people my age share some of these (mimeograph ink!), because they are specific to someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s.

This list begins for me at age four with a camping trip, includes my father (#8, #9), mother (#10, #11, #13), grandparents (#14), great-grandmother (#15), and my first jobs (volunteering in the library #18, and teaching swimming #23). I decided to end at age 16, when I met the boy (#25) who is now my husband of 30-something years.

  1. River water, pine needles, & campfire
  2. Diaper pail deodorizer in my new baby sister’s room
  3. Pink erasers, pencil shavings, Elmer’s paste
  4. St. Joseph’s baby aspirin
  5. Mimeographed worksheets
  6. Silly Putty & Sunday comics, wooden alphabet blocks
  7. Shag carpet & wood paneling
  8. Cherry pipe tobacco & Old Spice
  9. Machine oil, shop rags, garage dust, gasoline
  10. Summer sausage, Wint-O-Green Lifesavers
  11. Home-baked bread & real butter
  12. Hot asphalt, Bermuda grass, the mosquito truck
  13. Clean laundry, Ajax, Lemon Pledge, Clorox bleach
  14. Air-curing tobacco, flea markets, hot biscuits, & country ham
  15. Tiny gherkins & cosmetic powder
  16. Firecrackers & pistol cap rolls
  17. Pixie Stix & Tang
  18. Card catalogs (clean wood and old paper)
  19. Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, roller rinks (chalk and shoes)
  20. Cigarette smoke, Aqua Net, Love’s Baby Soft, new perms
  21. Cat litter, linoleum, Dawn dish soap
  22. Vinyl record albums & the ink, glossy paper, and perfume card samples and inserts of Seventeen Magazine
  23. Swimming pool chlorine
  24. The state fair: hot oil, cotton candy, woodsmoke, and barn animals
  25. My boyfriend’s Members Only jacket (and Chaps cologne)

Thanks for reading! And if you’re willing to leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear some of the scents YOU remember of your childhood and youth…

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